NEW ORLEANS – Kenny Klein, well known pagan musician and an amateur photographer, has been arrested in New Orleans on 25 counts of child pornography, involving images found on his computer of children under the age of 13 engaging in explicit sexual activity, according to this news story from the Times-Picayune.
Klein has recorded a number of albums, both on his own and with other musicians, including his ex-wife Tziporah, with whom he used to tour the country playing pagan-themed original folk songs and traditional music at festivals and other venues. Klein had moved to New Orleans several years ago and more recent songs reflected that cultural change. In recent months Klein had also begun writing articles for the Huffington Post, covering events such as Mardi Gras.
Klein’s author bio for HuffPo mentions several of his books: “Kenny is the author of several books including Through the Faerie Glass, Fairy Tale Rituals and the upcoming Fairy Tale Magic, all on Llewellyn Worldwide.” Klein also wrote The Flowering Rod: Men and Their Role in Paganism.
I spoke with my friend and fellow Patheos blogger Lilith Dorsey this morning about this news and she said, “I had several heated discussions with him about appropriating various elements of my religion, New Orleans Voodoo, while he was not an initiated member of the tradition. Perhaps this is just the tip of the iceberg of his bad behavior.”
Klein was also a member of the well-known Blue Star coven tradition for many years.
What difference does it make? The guy was a dirty old man and anyone who came into contact with him who didn't know that was either blind or stupid. I've heard that some of the garbage in his fairy books is close to pornographic, for example, the way he described young girls just reaching puberty. Why is anyone surprised? The whole Wiccan thing was created by Gerald Gardner, another dirty old man, who came up with the skyclad crap to satisfy his voyeurism. Kline also calls himself a photographer, but his favorite subject was always half-naked girls, most of whom weren't legal. Even so, some delusional pagans are already trying to excuse what he did by claiming that the photos on his computer could have been nothing more than kids dancing skyclad at pagan meetings. What kind of parents allow their children to dance around naked?!
Children just entering puberty shouldn't be allowed to dance around skyclad. I know it's all about freedom of religion, but kids that age aren't up to handling seeing the opposite sex naked. I don't think that these groups that practice skyclad should allow members under the age of 21.
I don't know much about Wicca, but do some of them really dance around naked and let their children dance naked? Has anyone in the group ever been to a meeting where they took off their clothes? I had always thought that going sky-clad was just something that people said, but didn't do.
Wiccan High Priest/Author Convicted of Possessing Child Pornography
On April 6, 2017, s New Orleans jury convicted nationally known Wiccan high priest and folk musician Kenneth “Kenny” Klein of 20 counts of possessing child pornography following a three-day trial that included a viewing of video evidence that appeared to repulse jurors. Klein, 62, of New Orleans, was convicted of all counts in the bill of information that included one count of pornography involving a juvenile under the age 13, and 19 counts of possession with intent to distribute pornography involving juveniles under the age 17. The jury voted 11 to 1 to convict Klein.
Klein remained standing for several moments after the verdict was read, eventually sitting down and turning in his chair to look at his fiancée. His eyes welling, he whispered softly to her, minutes before being placed in handcuffs.
“Though we respect the verdict of the jury, we maintain Mr. Klein’s innocence in this matter. There were serious deficiencies in the State Police Investigation,” defense attorney Bradley Phillips said late Thursday. Phillips said state police investigators admitted in their testimony that a full forensic analysis was not conducted on Klein’s computer and the partial analysis may have missed evidence of hacking or tampering. He also expressed frustration that unlike most states, Louisiana does not require unanimous verdicts for criminal convictions. “In almost any other state, Mr. Klein would not have been convicted tonight,” he maintained. “We will be looking at all legal remedies available to him moving forward.”
Orleans Parish prosecutors declined to comment on the verdict Thursday night.
Jurors watched about 35 minutes of excerpts from child pornography videos authorities said were seized from Klein’s computer. The viewing marked the first time in the eight-plus years of District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s tenure that illicit images of children engaging in sexual activity have been shown to a trier of fact in Orleans Parish, be it a judge or a jury. Security was tight. Discs containing the contraband videos were hand-carried to and from the courthouse by a DA’s office investigator in a locked case and following conclusion of the trial, were placed into court custody under seal. The panel of nine women and three men deciding the case appeared agonized, with tears welling in the eyes of several jurors, while others clutched their chests. Some ultimately closed or averted their eyes after viewing just a few seconds of each new exhibit.
The videos displayed in the darkened courtroom of Criminal District Judge Byron C. Williams comprised only part of the jury’s difficult duties. Assistant district attorneys Zack Popovich and Arthur Mitchell also presented wrenching testimony from two Arizona adults, now in their 30s, who described being repeatedly molested as children while sometimes in Klein’s care, and being directed by the defendant to engage in sex acts with each other while he watched. The alleged acts of molestation from the 1980s and 1990s took place in other states and are not among the crimes for which Klein was tried, but prosecutors were permitted to introduce the testimony as evidence of Klein’s predilection for viewing sexual activity involving juveniles.
Klein was arrested at his apartment in the 2800 block of Carondelet Street, near the Garden District, March 25, 2014. Agents of the Louisiana State Police Special Victims Unit, who said they tracked online activities linked to Klein’s internet protocol address, executed a search warrant at his residence and seized a Toshiba laptop computer that contained 20 videos showing minor children engaged in sexually explicit activities, authorities said. During the trial, state police investigator Christopher Treadaway testified that the IP address registered to Klein was noticed by police popping up several times searching for “PTHC” videos, an acronym for “pre-teen hardcore.” A second computer and external thumb drive seized at the scene contained no child pornography, Treadaway testified, but the illicit files on the Toshiba were found manually moved and deeply hidden inside a file tree.
Phillips acknowledged the videos constituted child pornography and were found on his client’s laptop. But he argued that the state failed to prove his client knew the files were there and suggested Klein was framed by an embittered ex-wife jealous of his musical success who hacked into his computer remotely from out of state. “I could say anybody hacked his computer, but that wouldn’t be reasonable,” Phillips asserted. “We identified a possible alternative suspect that they didn’t want you to know about. Somebody else out there could have committed this crime. ... It’s not open and shut. It’s not that simple.”
State Police trooper Christopher Treadaway countered Phillips’ claims, testifying that the internet protocol address registered to Klein was noticed by undercover investigators popping up several times in early 2014 searching for PTHC videos.
Prosecutors also presented two recorded jailhouse phone calls between Klein and his 31-year-old fiancée, Lauren DeVoe, a former Tulane University librarian, who asked why he was arrested. Klein replied, “For having underage pornography on my computer, which you warned me about. ... I feel ashamed because I love you and I screwed things up.” In a second call, DeVoe informs Klein of the allegations against him and Klein said, “I was downloading a bunch of stuff and some of it apparently had teens in it.” DeVoe testified she warned Klein only about the dangers of downloading possibly pirated material from peer-to-peer, file-sharing websites, but denied she was unaware of the content of Klein’s downloads.
Klein's defense focused on the theory that the illegal videos were placed on his computer remotely, likely by, or at the behest of, Klein’s former wife ,Dr. Tzipora Katz, a former high priestess who co-founded the Blue Star tradition of Wicca that Klein discovered and joined during the 1980s in New York. The couple left New York in 1988, beginning a four-year odyssey in which they performed music at Pagan festivals and Renaissance fairs around the country while primarily living out of a van. The couple split in 1992 and only afterward, Phillips said, did Katz begin making claims that Klein had abused her and two children sometimes in his care.
Katz refuted Phillips’ timeline. “He was abusive long before we hit the road,” Katz insisted. “I was told by Mr. Klein, repeatedly, that I was fat, stupid and ugly. I later learned that this is consistent with survivors of domestic violence.” Katz said Klein was handcuffed once in Florida for domestic battery until she told police she didn’t want to press charges. She also said Klein was investigated for child abuse allegations in Pennsylvania in 1992, but that a district attorney decided not to bring the case to trial. “That does not mitigate the fact that (the child) was abused,” Katz avowed. No documentation was provided for these investigations, nor for another by a child services agency in Plano, Texas, that Katz claimed stalled when they fled across state lines to Oklahoma.
“This is how Tzipora Katz does things,” Phillips explained in his closing. “She twists and she manipulates.”
Katz testified that after her marriage to Klein ended, she dropped out of the Pagan community for nearly two decades and earned undergraduate, master’s and doctorate degrees in digital communications and education. She told Phillips she was employed for a time as a software instructor, but that her training and expertise were limited to the Microsoft Office and Adobe suites.
Phillips pressed Katz on whether she knew any “white hat hackers,” computer experts often hired by the government or corporations to infiltrate network systems in search of security flaws. “I do know people who have that label in their profession,” Katz admitted. “I have friends that work in software, and friends who sell Tupperware, and friends who crochet sweaters for a living.”
Prosecutors recalled Lisa Maher, special agent from the Louisiana Department of Justice, as a rebuttal witness. Maher performed the forensic preview on Klein’s computer on behalf of the state Attorney General’s office that discovered the video files. Maher again told jurors she found no evidence of remote hacking, viruses or malware on Klein’s computer that would account for the videos.
* * *
On Friday, May 12, Klein was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison. Judge Williams imposed the sentence after denying Klein’s motion for a new trial. The judge said he had never before received so many letters both in support of and opposed to leniency for a defendant before a sentencing decision. “Your partner talks about your kindness and others say you don’t pose a threat to society,” Williams said. “But just as many have negative things to say about you, calling you an objectionable human being, and a lot of people contend you are a monster. Healing and redemption are available to you right now, but will have to begin in the custody of the Department of Corrections. The unsuspecting victims of juvenile pornography also must be able to heal.”
Williams imposed a 20-year sentence on the more severe count and five-year sentences on each of the remaining 19 counts. He ordered the sentences be served concurrently. He also fined Klein $2,500 and ordered that, upon release, he wear an electronic ankle monitor for the remainder of his life.
“The court notes that you are a renowned artist, teacher and leader – a high priest in the Wiccan community,” Williams added. “And there are a number of people concerned because of your age and health. This was indeed a difficult case. Any type of incidents involving juveniles, particularly as it relates to child pornography, are not good.”
Sources: Laura McKnight, The Times-Picayune, April 10, 2017, and Ken Daley, The Times-Picayune, May 12, 2017.