By Alexander Pleitez and Nadia Ramos
SACRAMENTO, CA – In a preliminary hearing here in Sacramento County Superior Court late last week, a former substitute teacher charged with six counts of sexual assault, and allegedly in possession of child pornography, was placed under heavy surveillance and released on $250,000 bail.
Defendant Steven Kester appeared in court in front of Judge Boulware Eurie to discuss bail and the level of surveillance the defendant should be placed under and whether or not to set bail, considering the charges.
Steven Kester, 75, is a father and retired teacher from the Rancho Cordova Unified School District after teaching for approximately 45 years. The recent proceedings indicate two victims pressing charges.
A student has reported a total of three incidents where Kester had touched her inappropriately in a bathroom, another time on a playground, and again in the back of a classroom while the other students were distracted while watching a movie.
Defense Attorney Isaac Choy said “a school’s investigation found no evidence to substantiate the claims made by that particular student” even though the investigation was pending but not unsubstantiated. In addition, Choy stated that the student “had a history of lying and making things up.”
In his statement, Deputy District Attorney Bruce Chang would argue that “with all bail decisions, the charges are assumed to be true,” meaning anything stating otherwise is irrelevant. He charged the defendant had a “[d]emonstrated history of sexual behaviors towards children dating back over 20 years.”
In 2011, police conducted an investigation online searching for people who may attempt to obtain such illicit content from specific websites. A search of IP addresses of those who viewed and downloaded content from such websites lead to the defendant’s residents.
However, when law enforcement arrived at the defendant’s residence, he did not answer the door at first. When Kester opened the door, he had stated that he was just coming out of the shower despite being “bone dry” in a police report.
Most notably, however, the police did find a smashed hard drive in the defendant’s closet that was presumably destroyed with a nearby hammer. He was later linked to other child porn sites, said Chang.
When the DDA became very specific in describing the alleged crimes, Judge Eurie remarked, “If they’re going to be too graphic, the court understands what you’re saying but I’d like to remind council that we are live on YouTube”
DDA Chang did note, then, the defendant’s alleged history of violence against his wife and children.
In response to Chang’s references to these allegations that are not yet charged, defense attorney Choy said, “If the court must presume that the charges are true, then I would think that the court would presume that things that have not been charged are not true.”
Furthermore, defense counsel said the defendant’s children have “come forth and said a lot of false things about him to make him look bad” because the children “don’t like Mr. Kester for whatever reason.”
Lastly, as a counter to Chang’s argument, in light that the defendant did not have a criminal record, defender Choy said, “There’s nothing in his history that would require more than just typical, regular, and the lowest level of supervision”
In light of both arguments and points, Judge Eurie agreed with the prosecution that the defendant is a significant threat to the public and must be placed under heavy surveillance due to the severity of the charges, describing them as “very serious in nature.”
The judge’s restrictions on the defendant in order to be released include to avoid any contact with any individual under 18, avoid contact with the victims, stay more than 200 yards away from any school or park where children congregate, GPS monitoring, and subject to search and seizure whenever needed by a police officer with or without a warrant during the pretrial stage.
Kester’s bail is $250,000. His possible maximum sentence, if convicted, is 48 years in prison. Proceedings will resume July 22.