A visibly nervous Ralph Cameron Lakin II (pictured) stood out this morning in Superior Court Judge Steven Bromberg's courtroom not just because he wore a natty suit (tan slacks, green coat and floral-patterned tie), but also because the other criminal defendants awaiting attention were hoodlums or drug addicts while he served as a veteran cop in the Los Angeles Police Department.
On May 26, 2007, Lakin was captured at the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival secretly filming the crotch areas of eight unwitting, underaged girls, as he confessed today in a pretrial guilty plea, "with the intent to sexually gratify" himself.
At the time, the incident appeared on numerous LA-based television news broadcasts because Lakin had the misfortune of selecting as one of his victims the daughter of Mark Dornan, son of one of Southern California's most famous politicians, retired Congressman Robert K. Dornan. Even the OC Register featured the crime. Lakin quickly retired in the aftermath.
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The younger Dornan, a schoolteacher and man not known for fence-straddling or meekness, chased Lakin down, wrestled away the cop's gun and camera, and held him for local police. The sensational citizen's arrest prompted the Weekly to name Dornan "Father of the Year" in 2008.
Assistant District Attorney James Laird, who heads the DA's West Court prosecution efforts, said he agreed to a plea deal that required Lakin to confess to eight misdemeanors. After the dismissal of a child-porn possession count, punishment includes no jail time, but four years of formal, supervised probation, 100 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine and professional counseling.
It's pathetic that a 55-year-old man finds himself banned from all future Strawberry Festivals and "any/all festival activities such as parades." Although he escaped sex-crime charges, the La Palma resident also will have to register with local police agencies as a sex offender for four years. If he violates probation, he faces up to four years in the Orange County Jail, according to Bromberg.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly