Former ROTC Instructor Pleads 'Guilty' To Sex Charges

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, May 3 2013 at 4:08 PM, Updated: Fri, May 3 2013 at 4:18 PM

A former ROTC instructor at a high school in Klamath Falls is headed to prison for two years for sexually abusing one of his female students.

64 year old Kenneth Gardner entered his plea as the victim sat just a few feet away in the courtroom...

"Guilty, your honor."

A former ROTC instructor at Henley High School, Gardner was arrested by Oregon State Police in April of last year.

Klamath County District Attorney Rob Patridge explains:  "This investigation came to light as the result of bad text messages being put across this young lady's phone."

"I got involved with what we called, what I called 'bedtime stories'."  Kenneth Gardner noted during sentencing.  "They were told in fiction, and not personal in any manner - but they did have a sexual theme."

Initially charged with multiple counts, Gardner plead 'guilty' to charges of second-degree sexual abuse, and luring a minor as part of a negotiated agreement.

"I engaged in inappropriate touching."  Stated Gardner.  "There was never any sexual intercourse.  We hugged each other daily in a non-sexual way, however, I changed this to be sexual touching."

Family members of the victim made statements to the court, including the victim's mother...

"I honestly don't think that Kenneth Gardner nearly got what he deserved."

Gardner will be placed on three years of post-prison supervision, and must register as a sex offender.

Gardner's change of plea this afternoon came just a few days before his trial was scheduled to begin...Gardner's trial was scheduled to start on Wednesday of next week.

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About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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