Family of Teen Facing Underage Sex, Child Pornography Charges Speaks Out

Family members of 18-year-old Zack Kuhl, the Sonora teen charged with nearly 40 criminal counts, all related to the production and possession of child pornography, are breaking their silence and speaking out in defense of the teen.

Sunday night, Kuhl sat inside of a Tuolumne County jail cell, charged with 11 counts of unlawful sex with a minor, eight counts of producing/possessing child pornography, eight counts of unlawful communication with a minor to engage in sexual activity, one count of arranging a meeting with a minor for the purpose of unlawful sex and 11 counts of first degree burglary for unlawful entry into a home with the intent of having sex with a minor.

County officials say for someone accused so young, the laundry list of charges is unprecedented.

"No. Some of the things they're saying. There's no way,” said Sandra Lattin, when asked if the charges fit the Zack she knows.

Lattin, Kuhl’s aunt, helped raise him alongside his grandmother since he was a baby. Lattin was home Wednesday when deputies came to arrest her nephew.

"I just think he's a good kid, and he doesn't deserve the stigma of 'oh now all of the sudden this good kid isn't a good kid anymore. He's a pedophile, sex addict...' I mean everybody's got an opinion. It's ridiculous,” said Lattin.

"We are talking about a case where he has targeted multiple minor, underage victims,” said Laura Krieg, Tuolumne County District Attorney.

Krieg says at least eight girls, some potentially younger than 15 years of age, came forward saying they were coerced into sexual acts with Kuhl.

Krieg says in some cases Kuhl threatened to harm himself if the girls didn’t go along.

"Law enforcement has seized his phone, has found hundreds of images that qualify as child pornography from multiple victims,” said Krieg.

But Lattin says she doesn’t believe Kuhl forced underage girls to do anything.

"That's the part I don't buy. I don't buy that they were unwilling or coerced. I think they're 14, 15, 16, 17, and they don't want to get in trouble. So if you don't want to get in trouble for something, you're going to go along with whatever's being said,” said Lattin.

Investigators disagree. They're moving forward with the case against Kuhl, and the serious charges against the teen.