Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Roy, Utah City Attorney Andrew Blackburn Sandbagging Ex-Teacher Kamron Klitgaard's Attempt To Get Reinstated By The Weber School District

On October 1st, 2008, the Salt Lake Tribune published a story which gets to the heart of the struggle by former Roy High School teacher Kamron Klitgaard to get reinstated as a teacher by the Weber School District. It appears that Andrew Blackburn, the city attorney for Roy, Utah, is responsible for sandbagging Klitgaard's efforts at full rehabilitation. Watch KSTU Channel 13 video interview with Klitgaard HERE.

Blackburn isn't doing it malevolently. He states, "Because of the complexity of this case, it's taken longer than typical. We are researching all aspects of this case before making a decision to prosecute". But the longer he takes, the longer Klitgaard's life remains in limbo, and, by extension, the lives of his family members.

Klitgaard's case is described in greater detail in this previous post on September 12th. In summary, after problems occurred on a laptop computer used by Klitgaard, he took the computer to the school's technician to resolve the issue. On January 25th, 2008, he was arrested for possession of child pornography, and was subsequently charged with two second-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation against a minor and 10 misemeanor counts of distributing pornographic material. Klitgaard's desktop computer at home was found to contain pornographic images, but they were time-stamped prior to the date Klitgaard took possesssion of it. Klitgaard denied all charges, and on July 21st, Weber County prosecuting attorney Gary R. Heward suddenly dismissed the felony charges "in the interests of justice" (although the Ogden Standard-Examiner reports that there was insufficient evidence that Klitgaard knowingly downloaded the material), instead relegating the case to Roy City Attorney Andrew Blackburn for a possible misdemeanor prosecution on charges of accessing adult pornography on a school computer. And Blackburn is still investigating.

And why specifically is Blackburn still investigating? Because yet another desktop computer controlled by Klitgaard, a Hewlett-Packard desktop computer at Roy High School, allegedly showed evidence of Google searches for inappropriate subject matter. And those alleged searches constitute the basis of Roy city's remaining misdemeanor case against him. Klitgaard denies the charge, stating he knew then and knows now that any use of a school computer to view or search for inappropriate material violates district policy. Apparently, authorities are attempting to determine if anyone else had accessed that computer during the time period in question.

Meanwhile, until that is resolved, he can't appeal the loss of his teaching job to the Weber School District, which terminated him early this year. But Klitgaard understands the District's position and is not bitter toward them.

A local groundswell of support arose on Klitgaard's behalf. Andrew Blake Boulton has launched an online petition campaign designed to help Klitgaard get reinstated, even though Nate Tagggart, a spokesman for the Weber School District, said the petition drive will have no impact on how district officials will proceed in any appeal. The petition is still active, and 320 people have signed as of this post. You don't have to live in Utah to sign the petition. Access the petition as follows:

Boulton questions why anyone who uses a computer to access criminal or inappropriate material would hand it over to a computer technician. He also cites Klitgaard's voluntary surrender of his other computers to law enforcement after his arrest, asking that they be examined for any pornographic files. He believes that if Klitgaard was really a porn addict, they would likely have thousands of footprints on their computer rather than just two. Klitgaard believes that the porn was deposited on his computers by "malware", which is software that, unknowingly to the user, downloads undesirable or destructive software into computers engaged in various Internet searches.

And how has this case personally impacted Kamron Klitgaard and his family? It's been tough, both emotionally and financially. He had to sell his home after losing histeaching job. Fortunately, family connections prevented him and hisfamily from bottoming out further. He was able to move himself, his wife and their four children into his mother-in-law's home in Brigham City. In addition, his brother-in-law owns a trucking company, and was willing to hire him. But if he didn't have the family connections, he would have had a much more difficult time getting a replacement job, since "child porn", regardless of outcome, is such a red flag.

The next teacher, or anyone else similarly victimized, may not have the same family connections to fall back upon.

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