|Earl William Klapperich|
OROVILLE - Sentencing was delayed Wednesday for a former Butte County sheriff's deputy convicted of soliciting a minor for sex.
The Butte County Superior Court judge ordered defendant Earl William Klapperich, 28, to undergo a diagnostic and evaluation in state prison, deputy district attorney Stacy Edwards said.
Sentencing will resume when the state prison returns its results, which can take up to 90 days.
Edwards noted outside of court the Probation Department recommended a middle-term sentence. She told the judge she didn't believe the diagnostic was necessary, but the judge made his order.
On Aug. 1, a jury found Klapperich guilty of felony counts of meeting a minor for lewd purposes and possessing material depicting sexual conduct of a minor. The defendant had faced two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but they were dismissed during the trial.
Klapperich was arrested as he was entering the parking lot of a Chico restaurant where he and a girl had arranged to meet on May 11, 2012.
The "girl" was district attorney's Lt. Juan Diaz, who posed as a teenager Klapperich encountered during an April 2012 call in Berry Creek. The Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office investigated after receiving a complaint about how the deputy handled that call with two girls, ages 14 and 16, reported as runaways.
During the hours prior to the deputy's arrest, Diaz and Klapperich exchanged text messages, including ones where Klapperich asked for more explicit photos.
Following his arrest, Klapperich repeatedly told investigators that he intended to only counsel the girl. He said he masturbated before meeting the girl to prevent his body from having an involuntary reaction.
However, Klapperich testified at trial that he panicked during the interview because he didn't want his fellow deputies and others to know he is gay. He said he had no intention of committing a sexual act with the teen because of his orientation. The former deputy also said he believed the text messages were from fellow deputies pranking him.
The material depicting a minor were two photos of a former girlfriend taken when she was underage. They were on Klapperich's iPhone, associated with a third-party application geared to keep photos private.
The defendant remains in custody.