Steve Klein, founding guitarist of pop-punk band New Found Glory, has been convicted in a child pornography case after pleading guilty to indecent exposure. The musician had faced additional charges, but those were dismissed after he accepted the plea agreement last month in California’s San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
Klein entered his plea during a trial-hearing conference on February 9th, but it was first reported by the San Luis Obispo Tribune on Monday (March 1st). According to the Tribune, the guitarist was originally charged in late 2013 with “five felony counts of lewd acts on a child, as well as a count each of contact with intent to commit a sex offense and possession of child pornography, stemming from sexual two-way chat room videos involving underage girls found on an external hard drive at Klein’s home.”
Specifically, the incidents occurred online from 2010 to 2012 with underage girls who were between the ages of 14 and 15. No physical contact was reported to have taken place.
The case had lingered for more than six years, until last month, when all of those charges were dropped as Klein agreed to plead guilty to the added charge of indecent exposure. Per the terms of the plea agreement, Klein will serve two years’ probation without prison time when he is formally sentenced on March 9th. In addition, he will be required to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years.
According to Klein’s attorney, if the musician complies with the terms of his probation for one year, his felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor and thereby his probation will be terminated.
Klein was a founding member of New Found Glory when they formed in 1997 and remained with the band until he was dismissed in 2013 when the aforementioned charges were first levied against the guitarist. He was a primary songwriter on the band’s first seven albums, two of which went gold and one (2002’s Sticks and Stones) that was certified platinum. Some of their best-known songs include “Hit or Miss”, “My Friends Over You”, and “All Downhill From Here”.
A few months after Klein was originally arraigned in late 2013, his attorney released a statement to Alternative Press, saying in part, “Steve is devastated by these accusations. He has lost his band, his livelihood, and his ex-wife continues to push for full custody of his children using this case as her pawn while he literally fights for his life.”
In announcing Klein’s departure from the band, New Found Glory stated at the time, “Upon our return from Warped Tour Australia, Steve made us aware of possible allegations that might be made against him. At that point, not knowing all the details, we made the decision to part ways in order for him to deal with these personal issues. Us 4 members of New Found Glory have given our entire lives to this band and will continue to do so.”