Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Former teacher sentenced to 5 years on child porn, gun charges

Daniel Joseph Kludt

A former Twin Ports schoolteacher who admitted to child sexual abuse in the 1990s has been sentenced to five years in prison — this time on child pornography and firearms charges.

Daniel Joseph Kludt, 56, received the sentence Thursday from Judge Dale Harris in State District Court in Duluth after pleading guilty in January to two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Authorities said they discovered thousands of images of child erotica and pornography on digital devices seized from Kludt's Saginaw home last fall, as well as approximately three dozen firearms that he was barred from possessing due to his earlier felony conviction.

A former elementary school teacher in Duluth and Superior, Kludt was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1998 after admitting to fondling a 13-year-old boy.

Kludt, who once taught at the private Lakeview Christian Academy in Duluth and at Superior public schools, admitted nearly two decades ago that he fondled the teen, who he had met in church and later had as a student. In a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a second charge involving a 10-year-old boy.

Kludt completed 10 years of supervised probation and underwent treatment in that case. However, he was again on probation for a driving while impaired conviction when the new charges were filed.

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office was called to Kludt's residence on the 7400 block of Kolenda Road regarding a domestic disturbance on Sept. 13. Kludt had reportedly physically confronted a 19-year-old man in the home, dragging him from the residence and assaulting him.

The alleged victim told deputies that he was afraid Kludt could hurt or kill him and reported that there were firearms on the property. Deputies seized two pistols from Kludt's home office — a .45-caliber Glock and a 9mm Beretta — before locating a gun vault in Kludt's garage that contained 32 additional firearms.

While executing a search warrant that same day, investigators also seized 38 digital devices, including computers, cellphones, cameras and flash drives from the residence. Authorities said they located a "significant amount of child exploitation material," including six images that investigators were able to tie to identified children through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Defense attorney Brent Olson asked Harris to sentence his client to probation, with some period of local confinement at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center and treatment.

Olson said Kludt is ready and willing to undergo more treatment for mental health and alcoholism, which he described as contributing factors. In seeking to avoid a prison term, the attorney also noted that Kludt had no issues during his previous 10 years of probation.

"He was able to get his depression under control," Olson said. "He was accountable and did everything that was expected of him."

But St. Louis County prosecutor Jessica Fralich expressed concern. She cited the abundance of child pornography seized from Kludt's residence, and noted that he was on probation for the DWI conviction at the time of the new offenses.

Fralich also pointed out that a judge in 2014 denied Kludt's petition to reinstate his firearm rights.

"Mr. Kludt knew he was not supposed to have those firearms," she said. "The fact that he so blatantly disregarded the laws and rules of this court make him a significant danger to public safety."

Kludt gave a lengthy statement before receiving his statement — with topics ranging from his torn rotator cuff to his vegetable garden to his hobbies with his children. He spoke little of his crimes, but did say: "I am sorry for the mistakes I have made. I am regretful for what I have done. I know I can change that."

The judge said he was concerned about Kludt's apparent lack of remorse and disregard for the law.

"You're following your own rules," Harris told Kludt in imposing the prison term. "Not the rules of this court, probation or the state."

Harris also ordered Kludt to pay a $1,000 fine. He must serve at least two-thirds of his sentence in prison, and will be subject to five years of conditional release afterward.

Advertisement
randomness