Judge jails former Kitsap deputy

After nearly an hour of passionate pleas from his victim to put him in prison and his wife to keep him out, Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Leila Mills on Friday rejected home monitoring for former Kitsap County Deputy Michael Kleinfelder and sentenced him to two years in prison for having sex with his babysitter.

“I find there are substantial and compelling reasons to justify an exceptional sentence in this case,” Mills said, explaining that Kleinfelder’s actions constituted breaches of public and private trust grave enough to warrant exceeding the prosecutor’s recommendation that the former deputy only serve a six-month sentence at home.

Her ruling was met with only stunned silence Friday afternoon as the overflowing courtoom packed with plain-clothed deputies watched their former co-worker mouth “I love you” to his wife before being led away in handcuffs.

Kleinfelder, 33, pleaded guilty last month to third-degree child molestation shortly after resigning his position with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office following his trial last summer on first-degree child rape charges.

His original trial ended in a hung jury.

Deputy Prosecutor Tim Drury said his office planned to retry Kleinfelder, but accepted a plea agreement because the conviction was a felony sex offense that would require the former deputy to register as a sex offender and ban him from working in law enforcement.

“The sex offense was what was important to the prosecutor’s office,” Drury said. “We did not recommend jail time, and we recommended the low end of the sentencing range — six months — and that it would be home-monitoring.”

Defense attorney Cliff Morey tried to persuade the judge to discount a corrections officer’s report recommending a stronger sentence for Kleinfelder, and urged her to respect the plea agreement he claimed his client had accepted only on his strong recommendation.

“He hadn’t done anything wrong, but if it meant he could have been put away for 50 years, the risk was worth the avoidance,” Morey said. “On my advice, he accepted this opportunity to resolve this case.”

Morey added that jail time was not necessary for the former deputy, whom he said had found work as a doorman and was training to be a commercial diver, where he would not be in contact with nor have authority over juveniles.

“He is humiliated,” Morey continued. “You can tell just by the look on his face and the color of his skin. He will be scorned and ridiculed by society.”

When given his chance to speak, Kleinfelder asked to face the victim, but the judge advised him to address his comments to her instead.

“I wanted to tell (the victim) that I was sorry I didn’t keep my promise,” he said. “I didn’t stick to my word.”

Kleinfelder only lost his stiff composure when he began to speak of his wife and son, choking on his words and leaning on the bench with both hands previously clasped behind his back.

“I have a family, your honor —” he said. “This is a nightmare I’ll have to deal with .... my family is my priority.”

Kleinfelder’s wife admitted to the judge that when the victim and her family first came forward last February, she did not know what to think or whom to believe. But, she said, her husband was in counseling and still very much needed at home.

“I have a 4-year-old son who worships the ground he walks on, and bills I can’t pay on my own,” she said. “The only person who will suffer if he goes to jail is my son.”

In stark contrast, the victim and her parents argued vehemently that Kleinfelder be given jail time.

“If he gets home monitoring, I can guarantee you he will do it again,” said his victim, a former neighbor and family friend. “He should pay for what he did by being behind bars.”

The teenager, who had dreams of becoming a police officer herself, said she idolized the former deputy and “put him on a pedestal.

“I was willing to give up everything to be with him, but he used me for his own selfish needs,” she said. “He is a child molester and a sexual predator. He fooled me, he fooled my family, and fooled his family and friends.”

The victim’s mother said Kleinfelder — who began having sex with her daughter in 2001 when she was 13 and continued to molest her for 12 months — “groomed” her daughter for a relationship and abused his authority as an officer.

“He stole two years of our daughter’s childhood and her innocence,” she said. “He is selfish, self-centered and has showed no remorse for what he did. And to all these deputies — shame on you for behaving like teenagers, and mocking our daughter. We want justice, and for you to punish this man to the fullest extent the law allows.”

The victim’s father said Kleinfelder was “a child predator in a police officer’s uniform.

“Having him out should scare the community — he’s very good at playing the good guy,” he said. “I beg you, please protect the girls in our community by giving him jail time.”

After both sides were allowed to speak, Mills addressed the defendant. “This is a sad day by anybody’s account — it doesn’t matter what side you are on,” she said. “But your victim, more than anyone else, will have to live with the consequences of your actions.”

She then sentenced a mute Kleinfelder to 24 months in prison followed by 36 to 48 months probation, ordered him to cover various court fees such as DNA testing and expert witnesses and to have no contact with the victim or the victim’s family for five years.

Kitsap County Chief of Corrections Larry Bertholf said due to safety concerns Kleinfelder is not being held in his facility while he waits for another hearing Friday.

After those proceedings, Bertholf said Kleinfelder will be transported to the Washington State Corrections Facility in Shelton, and it will be up to officials there where the former deputy will serve his sentence.

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