General Crime

* East Bay Professor Kenneth Kyle Accused of Alleged Child Pornography and Rape Agrees to Remain In Custody

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An East Bay professor who faces federal child pornography charges and Missouri state charges of raping a 1-year-old girl agreed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco today to remain in custody for the time being. Kenneth Kyle, 47, of San Francisco, an assistant professor at California State University, East Bay, is accused in federal court in San Francisco of international transportation of child pornography. Kyle was arrested at San Francisco International Airport on March 15 as he arrived on a flight from Germany. Federal investigators allege they found at least 529 child pornography photos and 33 videos on a laptop computer he was carrying. Kyle was separately charged on March 24 by prosecutors in St. Louis County, Mo., with rape, sodomy and promoting child pornography of a 13-month-old girl. The child’s mother, Tessa Vanvlerah, 20, of the city of Ballwin in St. Louis County, is accused of the same three charges as well as of incest. Vanvlerah is in custody in St. Louis County with a $2 million cash bail requirement and is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing May 10, according to court records. Kyle also faces an arrest warrant and $2 million bail requirement in St. Louis County. At a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Edward Chen in San Francisco today, Kyle waived his right to have a hearing on whether he should remain in federal custody for the time being. Chen scheduled Kyle’s arraignment on the federal charge for April 5. Defense attorney David Bigeleisen said after the hearing that he is “still gathering information” on the federal case and could not comment. He said he had not seen the charges in the Missouri case. If Kyle is convicted, the pornography transportation charge would carry a minimum sentence of five years in prison and maximum of 20 years. Kyle is an assistant professor in CSUEB’s department of public affairs and administration. Asked about Kyle’s current status, CSUEB spokeswoman Monique Beeler said the university is “actively pursuing disciplinary actions” and noted that in the meantime, Kyle is not teaching because he is in custody. Beeler said, “An allegation of criminal misconduct is taken very seriously by the university.” According to a biography from the university’s Web site, Kyle has published a book on homelessness and taught courses on political theory, social theory, ethics and public policy. He holds a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. The biography said his research interests have included homelessness, sexual deviance, family, mandatory computer ownership for university students and chemical castration for sex offenders. An affidavit filed in the federal case by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Michael Shan on March 19 said Kyle was investigated in an FBI undercover probe of people distributing child pornography through peer-to-peer file-sharing Internet networks. After more than 100 shared images were allegedly traced to a user at Kyle’s address on Natoma Street in San Francisco, San Francisco police executed a search warrant on March 10, seized several computers and learned that Kyle was out of the country. FBI agents then alerted customs agents that Kyle might be returning to the United States in the near future, and he was flagged for a secondary inspection on his return, according to the affidavit. St. Louis County police announced on March 25 that they were in turn contacted by federal prosecutors on March 23 and told that Kyle had met Vanvlerah on the Internet and may have traveled to Missouri to contact her and her daughter. The investigation then led to the arrest warrants and state charges against Kyle and Vanvlerah on March 24, police said.  St. Louis County Police Lt. Col Terry Roberds said last week, “I commend our detectives and the federal agents for their quick apprehension of the suspects.” Roberds said, “The 13-month-old victim was rescued from this horrific situation and placed in the care of the state, where she will receive proper attention.”  St. Louis County encompasses the western suburbs of the city of St. Louis.

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