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Jury Awards Woman $1.27 Million in Sex Assault Lawsuit

By Josh Farley, The Kitsap Sun

A Pierce County jury last week awarded a woman $1.27 million following a civil trial of a former Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy convicted of third-degree child molestation in 2003, according to court documents in the case.

Michael L. Kleinfelder, 38, was found financially liable May 27 for the sexual assault of “CMJ,” now a 20-year-old woman who baby-sat Kleinfelder’s children in South Kitsap while he was a deputy. She was between 13 and 15 years old when a sexual relationship with Kleinfelder occurred, court documents in the 2003 criminal case said.

Kleinfelder, who was hired as a deputy in 1999, took the girl on ride-alongs in his patrol car, the documents said. He served a two-year sentence for the molestation charge.

“It was a great day for my client,” Raymond J. Dearie Jr., the 20 year-old’s attorney, said of the jury’s decision following a two-week trial in Pierce County Superior Court. ” She’s been through so much.”

Edward S. Winskill, Kleinfelder’s attorney, said he’s made no decisions yet about “further steps” or legal avenues to pursue.

“We’re disappointed in the jury’s verdict and we disagree with it,” he said, “But we respect the jury’s role in the civil justice system.”

Dearie said suits were also filed against Kitsap County for several claims of negligence related to training and supervising employees, and against Kleinfelder’s wife, for negligence of supervising during the sexual incidents. He said a settlement in both cases, upward of about $300,000, was reached before trial.

Kleinfelder was originally charged with six counts of rape of a child and child molestation. After a hung jury, he pleaded guilty to the single molestation charge. During his term in prison, Kleinfelder continued to deny his guilt and was therefore found “not amenable to treatment,” according to a notice distributed by the Seattle Police in 2005 after he registered as a sex offender there.

Published in The Kitsap Sun, June 02, 2008

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