The former guitarist of the pop-punk band New Found Glory, an Atascadero resident, was back in San Luis Obispo Superior Court this week as a prosecutor fought a defense motion to suppress some of the evidence in the case.
Steven Lee Klein, 34, is facing five counts of lewd acts on a child, as well as one count of contact with intent to commit a sex offense and possession of child pornography, stemming from sexual two-way chat room videos allegedly involving underage girls found on an external hard drive at Klein’s home.
Prosecutors have not alleged that any physical contact occurred, and the supposedly underage girls have never been identified by investigators.
Klein has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
On Thursday, Deputy District Attorney Julie Antos played five videos in the courtroom for Superior Court Judge John Trice, Klein and his attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu that allegedly showed audio-less, screen-captured video of Klein carrying on sexually explicit activity with girls on the stranger-based chat website Omegle.
The videos supposedly showed Klein masturbating and encouraging the females to remove clothes and touch themselves. The videos were not shown to the rest of the courtroom because of the estimated ages of the females.
Dr. Nisha Abdul Cader, a pediatrician with San Luis Obispo County and the prosecution’s expert witness on sexual maturity, said she estimated their ages between 9 and 16 years old based on their physical development.
On Monday, Funke-Bilu cross-examined Scott Sarmento, a computer forensic technician with the Sheriff’s Office who retrieved the videos from the hard drive for investigators.
The attorney asked Sarmento whether it was technically possible the videos could have been altered. “Anything’s possible — but it’s highly unlikely,” Sarmento said.
Left unresolved Monday was an outstanding motion by Funke-Bilu to suppress some evidence against his client that came from discussions with the ex-wife, communications he argued were made in confidence between spouses and shouldn’t be admissible.
Klein’s ex-wife testified in April that she alerted police after finding the videos on an external hard drive as Klein was out of town just a few days after she filed for divorce.
Due to Klein’s high profile, his former attorney asked Trice in April to issue a gag order on the case, which was promptly rejected.
Klein, rhythm guitarist and founding member of the Florida-based band New Found Glory, which formed in 1997, left the band in 2013.
He is due back in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Tuesday morning.