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Former Solon band director Edward L. Kline pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of sexual offenses in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Oct. 14, and his bond will remain at $50,000 cash, surety.
Kline, who is free on bond, was indicted on the charges Sept. 29 by the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury.
At the Oct. 14 arraignment, Judge Nancy Fuerst listened to three of the seven alleged victims who asked to have Kline’s bond raised from the $50,000 set by Judge Michelle Paris in Bedford Municipal Court.
None of the victims said Kline had tried to contact them.
“I believe the bond has been properly set. … No contact with the victims,” Fuerst told Kline. “You understand, sir?”
She assigned Timothy McCormick as judge and the first pretrial date for 11 a.m. Oct. 28.
“The judge correctly analyzed the applicable criminal rules as to the setting of bond,” Kline’s lawyer, Ian Friedman, founding attorney at Friedman & Nemecek, LLC, of Cleveland, told the CJN in an emailed statement following the arraignment. “This was the same analysis that a previous judge at Bedford Municipal Court gave when setting bond. The continuation of the bond we have always felt was appropriate as did the judge today.”
Kline, 50, of Stow, was first charged with a single count of third-degree felony gross sexual imposition Sept. 23. That victim, who was 12 years old at the time of the offense in 2010, said Kline groped the back of her thigh.
The grand jury indictment added 16 counts of fourth-degree felony gross sexual imposition and a single count of third-degree misdemeanor sexual imposition, Solon Lt. Jamey Hofmann told the CJN on Sept. 30.
The charges involve seven female victims, only two of whom were adults at the time of the alleged incidents, Hofmann said.
The indictment said Kline touched the breasts or buttocks of some victims, labeled Jane Doe #1 through Jane Doe #7, and compelled others to touch his genitals.
Hofmann said two detectives have been working on this case 15 to 20 hours a week since the investigation opened in June and they have interviewed 20 or 21 people.
He said two additional people have come forward since Kline was charged on Sept. 23, and they have made arrangements to be interviewed.
Kline, who is married, worked with students from eighth to 12th grades in Solon from 2004 until his resignation in 2018. He resigned from Solon schools before his employment could be terminated, according to a report then-Superintendent Joseph Regano filed with the Ohio Department of Education in 2018.
A message posted on The Solon Soundboard on Facebook accusing a former Solon City Schools band director of misconduct caught the attention of local law enforcement in June and brought to light details surrounding his resignation from the school system two years ago. Other alleged victims came forward in light of that post.
“It is in clear contravention of our constitutional principles to infer any guilt from mere allegations,” Friedman wrote. “After all, anyone can make a claim. Mr. Kline’s not guilty plea today is a complete denial of each and every accusation. We now have officially begun the process that will for the first time, test the credibility of the accusers. Mr. Kline, his supporters and his legal team look forward to finally being able to commence the defense.”