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Former teacher pleads guilty to child porn, gun charges

Daniel Joseph Kludt

A former Northland schoolteacher who was convicted of child sexual abuse nearly 20 years ago has now admitted to child pornography and firearms charges.

St. Louis County Sheriff's Office investigators said they removed nearly three dozen firearms from Daniel Joseph Kludt's Saginaw property in September after being called there for a domestic disturbance.

A subsequent forensic examination of a number of electronic devices seized the same day turned up "thousands of images and video of child erotica, as well as suspected child pornography," according to additional charges filed last month.

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, 56, pleaded guilty Friday in State District Court in Duluth to two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Dale Harris ordered him to undergo a presentence investigation and psychosexual evaluation ahead of sentencing on Feb. 28.

Kludt faces between three and 15 years in prison on the firearms conviction. The child pornography charges carry five-year maximums.

According to court documents, deputies were 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.

A woman in the home broke up the altercation, and the younger man reported to deputies that he was scared at the time of the incident and believed Kludt was capable of hurting or killing him. The victim then told deputies about approximately 25 guns stored on the property. Children in the residence confirmed that fact, and the woman gave consent to search 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 total firearms.

Searches of a garage attachment and pole building elicited a second vault containing another 9mm Beretta and other guns. Multiple other firearms were found throughout the property, including muzzleloaders and antique firearms.

Not all firearms were seized; several were secured on the residence after a family member claimed possession and ownership of them.

Kludt was barred from possessing firearms as a result of his earlier sex crime conviction. A judge in 2014 denied his petition to reinstate those rights.

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.

Kludt once taught at the private Lakeview Christian Academy in Duluth and at Superior public schools. He was set to begin a new job teaching first grade in Silver Bay when police began investigating him in 1997.

He admitted in court to fondling a 13-year-old boy 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. He was sentenced to 10 years of probation and required to undergo treatment.

He had also been charged with improperly touching an 11-year-old boy in his truck while employed at Lake Superior Elementary School in Superior during the summer of 1994. That charge was dropped when a judge ruled that evidence from other possible victims couldn't be introduced at trial.

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