Teacher Charged With Kiddie Porn Had Federal Friends, School Says
(CN) - The Justice Department must share its records on a teacher charged with lewd acts upon a child, the school district that hired him says in Federal Court.
Chula Vista Elementary School District says it hired John Raymond Kinloch as a teacher in 2000 "after administering all statutorily required background checks."
Kinloch has been on unpaid leave from his first-grade teaching position since November 2012, however, as he faces several felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 and one felony count of possession of child pornography, according to the complaint in the Southern District of California.
Chula Vista says it has reason to believe that Kinloch was also involved in an "illegal child pornography ring located in Great Britain in 1998," but that the Justice Department gave him immunity in exchange for his testimony about the ring.
The background check Chula Vista ran on Kinloch did not turn up anything about his participation in that ring because of the immunity agreement, according to the complaint.
Chula Vista notes that Kinloch began substitute teaching since at least as early as 1999.
It asked the Justice Department in December to release any records it has on Kinloch under the Freedom of Information Act, but that the feds allegedly neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such records.
Such an answer is known as a Glomar response, named after the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a ship used in a classified CIA project to raise a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean.
Chula Vista filed suit after the DOJ denied its administrative appeal. The department allegedly says it would "constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy," to speak about the alleged records without consent, proof of death, official acknowledgment of an investigation or an overriding public interest.
As noted in Chula Vista's request, however, public interest favors disclosure, the school district says.
"Specifically, the district explained that the subject matter associated with the request had become a topic of exceptional media and public interest resulting in, among other things, possible questions about the government's integrity," according to the complaint. "The district explained that its request was in the public interest and that the public's interest far outweighed any individual's right to privacy. In addition, the district explained that the requested information would assist it in assessing procedures that do and do not exist concerning background checks of potential teachers in the state of California, including identifying potential legislative revisions to adequately analyze the backgrounds of teaching candidates. Further, the district explained that the requested information would be helpful in assessing, among other things, the dangers posed to the district's students and staff by individuals who are or have been the subject of DOJ investigation."
In its administrative appeal, the district had noted that that Justice Department may have given immunity to "Kinloch - knowing he was sexually attracted to 'only teenage boys and younger' and 'exchanged pictures of boys as young as five' - at the same time it knew Mr. Kinloch was seeking a teaching credential in California."
That "is unquestionably in the public interest of 'knowing what the government is up to,'" Chula Vista had said.
Speculation of Kinloch's immunity agreement stems from a June 1998 article in the San Diego Reader, according to the complaint.
That article allegedly quotes the DOJ as stating that it offered Kinloch immunity to testify against a "clearly more dangerous" man named Wrigley.
Chula Vista is represented by Dean Adams with Fagan Friedman & Fulfrost in San Marcos, Calif.