my coworker is a registered sex offender

A reader writes:

I inadvertently found out while doing a search of local registered sex offenders in my area that a very friendly and polite older gentlemen who recently began to work at my company is a registered sex offender for possession of child pornography. He admitted his guilt, is on probation, and lost his former job working for the court system, according to a newspaper article I dug up. He’s now using his middle name instead of his first name, but without a doubt is my co-worker. I can’t believe that my company would hire such a person. Our department of 85 are, for the most part, a very family-centered group of proud parents and grandparents that would have this gentlemen’s head if they ever found out.

With all of this said… I honestly don’t think my company knows this information. I work for a very large company that has multiple offices in nearly every state that outsources all preemployment paperwork and background checks to an outside firm on the other side of the U.S. I was hired about three months ago and know for a fact that none of my references or former companies were contacted. (All that was done was a credit check and The Work Number reports.) Is this any of my business or should I just let it go? I believe it’s definitely something that management should know, but I would also never want to begrudge someone the chance to make a living. Do I inform management or keep this information to myself?

I’ve been sitting on this question because I can’t come up with an answer I’m fully comfortable with. Ultimately, I don’t think you should say anything, but I can understand why you’re struggling with this.

On one hand, I firmly believe that refusing to hire people with criminal convictions in their past is a good way to ensure that those people never get assimilated back into society, increasing the chances that they’ll offend again. On the other hand, some crimes say something about someone’s character and judgment, and that doesn’t necessarily change after they’ve served their time. And pedophilia is notorious for being something that doesn’t simply go away after you punish someone for it.  On a third hand, this man’s current job is presumably not one that brings him into contact with children. On a fourth hand, I can totally understand why you and your coworkers would be uncomfortable anyway, especially if there are company picnics that people bring their families to, or if people sometimes bring their kids by the office, and so forth.

If your company does criminal background checks, they presumably know about this man’s past and hired him anyway. It’s possible that they discussed it with him and that conversation was convincing to them that he was safe to hire. It’s also possible that the background check doesn’t include criminal records and so your company’s management doesn’t know anything about it. And it’s also possible that the circumstances of this man’s crime were less than the charge would imply (after all, there are people on the sex offender registry because of sexting they did when they were teenagers; while this guy’s age would seem to preclude that particular explanation, it’s possible there’s another one that would lessen the situation in your mind).

It’s also possible that you live in one of the small number of states that prohibit employers from not hiring someone because of a criminal record unless there’s a direct correlation between the crime and the job.

There are a ton of factors here, but ultimately, unless you have reason to think that someone is in danger, I don’t think it’s your place to say anything. The guy has been dealt with by the criminal justice system and is now trying to resume his life. Until/unless you have reason to think he presents a danger, I wouldn’t interfere. But ugh. This is a tough situation for everyone (including him, I’d imagine), and one where you want everyone involved to keep a cool head.

You can read an update to this post here.

{ 386 comments… read them below }

  1. JoAnna*

    I would not say anything. He’s been given due process and punished for his crime; it’s possible that he’s in therapy now to help him manage his issues. Unless you have proof that he lied on his application or in his interview, I’d let it alone.

    1. Anonymous*

      Are you a parent? I am and I would raise holy hell if a pedo was hired in my workplace.

      1. Mike C.*

        Ah yes, because you can’t care about children unless you have one of your own. Thanks for the contribution.

        1. Piper*

          This. I was trying to refrain from saying anything, but the “are you a parent” argument pisses me off every time I hear it. It just comes across as so self-righteous and a total put-down to anyone who isn’t a parent, as if they are lesser contributors to society because they have not OMG procreated.

          1. Anonymous*

            The vast majority of people are parents. It’s just bad business to employ someone with a child porn history.

              1. Christal R.*

                For the record, it is illegal at the federal level to discriminate against this. Although you have government agencies with strict rules not to hire sexual offenders, HUD is not allowed to give them housing assistance, etc. Even the simple possession of child porn (in most cases the person was viewing what they thought regular porn ) pretty much sentences these people to a lifetime of poverty, ridicule, and keeps them with a threat of constant danger, not because of the seriousness of the offense (I am referring to the child porn possession not an actual violent predator offense), but because of the hysteria this topic generates.

              1. Anonymous*

                My understanding is that the people in this office bring their kids in to visit, hence the danger.

              2. Anonymous*

                Exactly! And if you are uncomfortable with it – don’t bring your kids to work… AND if you still want to bring your kids to work… hows about don’t let your kids hang out with him… not exactly rocket science.

              3. Anon*

                Well, this is the point isn’t it? People who use this parentage argument are these “morally outraged”, bored 45 year olds who never really got what they wanted out of life. It’s a meaningless argument. If he’s been rightly punished for what he’s done and is on probation, most likely with the aid of mandated therapy, there is no reason to not keep him employed.

            1. Roger*

              You could have such a history, all someone has to do is point the finger at you and you are going down. If you have never been grilled by cops and prosecutors you have no idea what can happen to innocent people.
              An estimated 10,000 innocent people are convicted in this country every year. LOOK IT UP! Look up these stories. The Infallible Prosecutor and Scalia’s lunacy.

            2. John T*

              Its idiots like this that don’t get. People with felony’s are more then likely re-commit a crime if there not able to be put back into society and work. Besides Like that person said. A “sex offender” could be a teenage who sent a lewd picture. And lastly, self proclaimed Christians who seem that My bible teaches “he without sin cast the first stone” nice there’s so many Jesus out there without sin.

        2. Christal R.*

          I am a parent of 3, and I will tell you you are way off base. A person charged with a simple possession charge(a misdemeanor offense) normally poses no threat to anyone but themselves. In this day in age, the way we treat “sexual offenders” is the equivalent of the Salem With Trials. Some states prosecute a person under these broad reaching (and some very unconstitutional laws) on heresy alone. The burden of proof is not even needed, all one would have to do is call in to a local police department anonymously, just as you just posted, and this person is convicted of a sex crime without proof (see Virginia state laws for an example).
          The paranoia over this is trumping any sort of rationale when it comes to respect to these laws.
          Example: Soldiers who have served their entire adults lives, never committing any more serious of an offense than to “bounce a check” in their lives, are being found with porn in the war zones, and an automatic child porn charge is brought up on them. With the military’s conviction rates being roughly 94-98%, these individuals are being uniformly charged with possession of child pornography ( a misdemeanor offense), that in essence wrecks their entire life, and like in it’s civilian counterpart, the military court system leaves the burden of proof to fall on the defense, not the prosecution. Anyone who has ever viewed porn in any manner is subject to “possession of child pornography” now out of pure hysteria created by ignorance. And here you have you calling this man you do not know, do not know the circumstances around his case, a pedo. You are part of the growing problem on this issue, not the answer.

          1. Anonymous*

            im a registered sex offender, here is my crime. I was 21 and picking up my brother from Jr high school. I got out of my car to go and pick him up from the front office. As I was walking to the office some kid came up behind me and yanked my basket ball shorts down. Because it was on school property and he was under 18, I now have to register every year as a sex offender, for a crime that I was falsely accused of.

              1. Ruined Life*

                I too am a registered sex offender. My crime…being a loving husband/father who was challenged by an unfit mother in a divorce/child custody battle. Because I put DSS on her and the environment she placed our three daughters in, she turns around and accuses me of inappropriately touching one of the three. She is allowed to leave the state, a high bond is placed on me and I sit in county for almost three years waiting on a trial I never got. After so much stress I plead guilty to one count of Attempting to commit a lewd act on a minor and was awarded 15 years in prison for this lie! When I though the nightmare was over after my released, I again am pick up under yet a new law Sexually Violent Predator Act in this state. I am forced to sit in county jail again for a mandatory trial to determine if I am a predator! Because of the nature… the jury’s verdict said I was a predator based solely on the allegations made by my ex who is enjoying her life to the fullest 5 states away without having to face charges of false allegations. Even with proof that I couldn’t have ever committed the offense charged, the civil courts says tough! There’s nothing you can do! Now I have all defendants in the appellate level court, but I’m still listed on the registry and can not get a job, am in constant fear for mine and my family’s life. This can happen to you too. As for this gentleman at this work place; perhaps he has done as I have, made good of a bad situation and only wants to move on with his life. However, if he is some sicko child molester as you fear, then I suggest keep a keen eye on him, just to be safe. Act normal and decent to him (he must be trying to be a positive productive member of society) and remember, that recidivism with sex offenders are only 5% where as all other crimes are recommitted 85%. Also, most crimes of sex offenses are committed by someone the victim knows, which also makes it become very easy to accuse a family member. Let the guy start his life again. Oh, and having been with the department of mental health with my alleged offense, having become a paralegal while incarcerated and now in my Junior year of college earning my BS in Advanced Legal Studies, I can tell you about child porn viewers. As for the DSM IV (Diagnostics and Statistics Manual) child porn viewers are most likely not to touch a child, to view to them is a paraphilia which is shown to be a disorder by the activity continuing for more than 6 months. If a paraphilia is strong enough, then there exist a mental abnormality where the person is incapable of controlling the urge. If this is present, then you have someone who will re-offend. If not, then there is no chance at all the person will re-offend even viewing the child porn. As for me, I never offended to begin with, however, being released from the department of mental health with the chief psychologist declaring in court that I was “at least risk to re-offend than the typical sex offender who is presently registering”. I wonder how I went from an alleged predator, civilly committed after my prison sentence to “least likely to re-offend than the typical”??? I’ll let everyone do the math on this one, and if you figure it out, please contact your congressperson and tell them they need to seriously revamp this whole “sex offender” business….it is destroying lives of innocent children sure, but also innocence who have been falsely accused by malevolent spouses too!

      2. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady*

        Because you bring your children into the office, and send them off with people who then take them into their offices and shut the door?

        Wouldn’t you rather have this guy working in an office with adults then being unemployed, which will make him more likely to re-offend?

          1. tired of people commenting on things they think they read in an OP post.*

            There is no where in the OP’s letter that says people bring their children into the office. Reread it.

            1. tired of people commenting on things they think they read in an OP post.*

              sorry, this should have posted at the very top of the thread – was responding to Anonymous.

            2. The OP*

              You are correct; I have yet to see any children in our office. We are a very busy, deadline-oriented business. That doesn’t mean that no body does; I just haven’t seen any children present.

          2. Vicki*

            I feel the need to point out that “possession of child pornography” is a far cry from harming an actual physical child. And as for “locked up forever” there are people in prison who really like violence. Lots of gray areas; lots of levels.
            The guy shouldn’t be in an Elementary school. And your kids shouldn’t be in the workplace (or, when they are (rarely) there should be under tight supervision in any case.))

            1. Anonymous*

              >> “possession of child pornography” is a far cry from harming an actual physical child.

              I would say that the portrayed child was significantly harmed.

              1. Noneya*

                But not by the person viewing the picture, if you wanna lock someone up, better to lock up the person taking the picture.

              2. Hey Now*

                So what if they bring there children the guy used to work fir the goverment and anybody that has ever worked for the goverment know that people always bring there kids around. If someone has adult pornography does it mean adults are not safe.most pedos want to believe there in a relationship with a child that’s why 90 percent are commited within the family then you have a rapist, whether its child or adult they are the most dangerous, but your average pedo is not going to just grab a kid upjust like a guy who likes adult women, but the rapist is the one to watch, I study this stuff and when ever I deal with one I judge him on the type of crime. I have a buddy that had sex with a 15 year old he thought they were in love but this guy grew up in the bahammas and was raised in a child sex prositution ring that has been going on for years, I wonder does he deserve a chance, most of these guys used to be that kid getting molested and I understand that they should know bettet but being molested everyday for most of your childhood realy screws you up, so instead of focusing on. SO’s we need to allow men and women to get help for these feelings before they make another victom, most men I do therapy with said they wanted help but the stigma that we put on that behavior keeps them from reaching out. This behavior is a cycle and we just got serious about it and the best thing we came up with is putting a name on a computer and hating that person for the rest of there lives, and we call that keeping children safe and we don’t discuss prevention, because most men can qualify as a sex offender especialy in that time period between teenager and manhood.

          3. Anonymous*

            If they are locked up, guess who will support them? You, when you pay your taxes. How about we let them work and pay their own way.

          4. Ruined Life*

            So do I wish for the same for under-educated individuals like yourself there..Mr./Mrs. Anonymous dated input at March 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm.

      3. Anonymous*

        What is it with people like yourself and the guy who shot his daughter’s laptop all about the “if you don’t have a child, then you have no right to an opinion?”

        1. Anonymous*

          I will say – if this article was all about children being around this man, the argument would be different but with regard to the OP’s letter – parent status is moot.

          HOWEVER – there is nothing that pisses me off quite as much as someone WITHOUT kids who tells me “If I had kids, I wouldn’t do that.” WTH. My brother does this all the time – honestly I feel sorry for his future kids. Ha!

          1. Anonymous*

            I definitely get there are certain things that people don’t understand until they are parents because while I’m not a parent, there are incidents in life I can equate it to (the idea that I don’t fully grasp something until I have done it). But people are going to have opinions. And sometimes, even though parents might hate it, those opinions have validity (including your brother, depending on what you are talking about…).

            1. so what*

              before i had kids and my neighbor was a pedo i didn’t care after i did have kids i still didn’t care cuz there was nothing to care about i mean i did a background check and turns out where i checked the police reports stated he was drunk and was caught peeing at an elementary school play ground this could be a similar case i mean have you read about any one who did get locked up from a misunderstanding no cuz the cops don’t want you but if you look then there you have it to they usually get let out and there lives are ruined for something stupid what if a kid runs the site he was on huh and she/he wanted money what better way than to charge them for viewing the site ? there are millions of scenarios that are in play think

              1. Anonymous*

                Agreed! For all we know, he could have bought the computer on eBay and those pictures could have already been stored into the hard drive. Being a parent myself I have one sold piece of advice to all parents out there. “WATCH YOUR F**ING KIDS, KNOW WHERE THEY ARE AND WHO THEY ARE WITH AT ALL TIMES AND MAKE SURE YOU CHECK UP ON THEM TO SEE IF THEY ARE TELLING THE TRUTH.” My kids know, that they are better off telling me the truth at first, because if they don’t, I WILL FIND OUT!

      4. Tanya*

        I’m a parent and I also worked as a counseling aid at a forensic institution with sex offenders. Unless OP works at a preschool or she sees him behaving suspiciously while in direct contact with a child she should stay out of it. Be thankful he’s on probation and there’s at least some form of observation on him. We come in contact with dangerous weirdos everyday who haven’t been caught yet.

      5. JoAnna*

        I have 4 children – ages 7, 4, 2, and 3 months. I also work full-time outside the home, in an office that children rarely (if ever) visit. I the rare occasions that employees have their kids around, they’re in a public area and accompanied by their parent(s). So, I can’t see this guy posing a threat in a similar office environment unless the parents are wholly irresponsible and let their kids run wild with no supervision for hours on end at their office.

      6. Elizabeth*

        I teach elementary school and so take children’s safety *very* seriously. However, I think “holy hell” is not in the least bit warranted by a person attracted to minors working in an office with no children in it. If he were working at a school or day care, yes, absolutely – but working among adults, no.

        This man has the misfortune to be attracted to children. He did not choose to be attracted to children any more than most men choose to be attracted to adult females. He *did* do wrong by indulging in that attraction in the past, as children (unlike adult females) are not capable of consenting to sexual activity, including making porn. However, there is no reason to believe that he continues to view child porn, and, indeed, reason to believe he does not (he is on probation, so someone is checking on him). He is not currently harming anyone. Do you want to punish people for thought crimes?

        1. anon*

          This response is disgusting. He is not “minor attracted” (which is a phrase used by NAMBLA and the like to minimize what they do), he is a pedophile. Child pornography fuels child abuse. He was convicted for a crime so please save your sympathy for someone else.

          I’m sad that you are a teacher.

          1. Gayle*

            I can’t speak for Elizabeth, but I’m using the expression “attraction to children” because some people use “pedophile” to mean “child molester.” It’s confusing to be using a word that can have two different meanings.

            But rather than just writing off someone’s comments as being “disgusting,” try to actually respond to the comments made.

            (1) Do you think that people choose to be attracted to children?
            (2) Do you think that people can “unchoose” this attraction?
            (3) Do you think that by having sympathy for someone who is “bad,” you’ll use up all your sympathy such that you won’t have enough to have sympathy for non-criminals?
            (4) Do you think that once someone is a criminal they are undeserving of sympathy?

            I believe that therapists who understand these conditions would tell you that (1) and (2) are definitely false. And as for (3) and (4), well, I find that sympathy is generally a good thing.

            1. Long time Admin*

              Gayle, there has never been any evidence offered up that shows pedophiles ever change. I would never allow someone convicted of that kind of crime to be around any child. (Personally, I don’t care what happens to them because they are a danger to society.)

              In this instance, the man is not a threat to his work place, and I don’t think the OP should blow the whistle on him.

              And I have no sympathy for predators. Like the Walking Dead, THEY’RE DANGEROUS!

              1. Gayle*

                I agree that pedophiles (which means people attracted to children) cannot change their attraction, and I 100% agree with you that they should not be around children.

                In this case, I see no reason to believe that this man is actually a predator.
                Predator: has or does seek out children to molest.
                Pedophile: is attracted to children.

                There is a difference between the two – a HUGE one. Predators can control being predators; pedophiles cannot control being pedophiles.

                Why would a pedophile not be a predator? Because they have a moral code. If you believe – as I do – that pedophiles did not choose to be pedophiles, then there’s no reason to assume that they do not have the same exact moral code that tells them DON’T RAPE KIDS that we do. I suspect, in fact, the vast, vast majority of pedophiles are deeply ashamed and scared of their urges (as they should be).

                Of course, they still shouldn’t be around children – regardless of their moral code, dangerous urges are dangerous – but this doesn’t mean you should be lumping pedophiles together with predators.

              2. Anonymous*

                The fact that this man has already purchased child porn (and in a serious enough way to be convicted to it) to me proves that he has already crossed the line from pedophile to predator. Child porn cannot be compared to regular adult porn. Also the fact that he has actively sought out child porn suggests that he is very much not trying to control his urges, but in fact the opposite. If you consume child porn you are responsible for child rape and child sexual exploitation. Period. – A former victim of the child porn industry.

              3. Gayle*

                As most of us seem to agree here, pedophiles cannot control their thoughts, but they can control their actions. So, yes, the man did cross a moral boundary as a result of uncontrollable thoughts that caused him to – albeit to relatively small extent – contribute to the rape of a child. And that is a terrible, terrible thing.

                But it is not the same thing though as actually raping a child. Had he not purchase the child pornography, in all likelihood, the exact same (very very terrible things) would have happened to those children. I presume that each “film” is purchased by tens or hundreds of thousands of people, after it’s “produced” of course. Saying that OP’s coworker caused the rape of a child is far from accurate.

                This guy is responsible for succumbing to urges which resulted in subsidizing to a tiny degree a terrible industry.

                Many would argue that we all do similar things in purchasing blood diamonds and other things produced through unethical means.

                My engagement ring is, most likely, a blood diamond (aren’t most diamonds?). If purchasing child pornography makes someone a child rapist, then I am a murderer, because I have unintentionally subsidized brutal wars in Africa. And we also have all probably been child slave owners too.

                While we may ALL have subsidized, to a very very limited extent, murders, slavery, and exploitation, hopefully very few of us are going to go out and actually do these things ourselves. The same is probably true for OP’s coworker.

                He subsidized the terrible and evil child pornography industry to a very limited extent when he succumbed to urges that he can’t control. But this does not mean that he’s going to go out and rape a child. Both are very wrong, but there’s a world of difference between the two.

                1. Holly*

                  Excellent point, Gayle, about the degree to which we all unintentionally subsidize world horrors by participating in them in small ways. You are brave to observe that you do it yourself. And viewing an image on a screen of someone you’ve never met is simply NOT the same as physically raping a child.

                  I know a guy who was convicted of possession of child porn a few years ago. He never had any interest in sex with children. He had a great life, and the local news mercilessly raked him over the coals when he was arrested, broadcasting his home address and interviewing all his neighbors. His friends understand he’s not a bad person, but his marriage is over and he has to deal with raging, emotional reactions to his arrest every time a new person finds out. His ability to earn a living is completely compromised, and this will continue until his dying day.

                  Nobody wants to admit it, but police are often lazy and go for low-hanging fruit. The fact that someone was arrested for having “child porn” could mean they were looking at amateur self-shots of teenagers, not old men raping kids, or anything resembling it. Everyone has voyeuristic impulses, and the internet makes us feel like we are anonymous and unaccountable. Just look at all the mean comments people write. The police and the news won’t tell you it was one small aspect of his life; they will portray the man as 100% monster and you will believe it because it’s easier to be scared and angry than to learn the details and draw your own conclusions.

                  All men who look at child porn are not pedophiles. A pedophile is a person who is attracted to pre-pubescent children. A hebophile is a person who is attracted to teenagers. Look it up. Sex offender specialists and therapists will tell you it’s perfectly normal for a grown man to be sexually attracted to a developed 15 yr old.

              4. Roger*

                All registered sex offenders, are not pedophiles, I think people need to look up what can get a person on a sex offender registry. A tuck driver or any person with a weak bladder can drive down a deserted country road in the middle of the night and take a leak in the seclusion of darkness and the absent of others, but should a cop happen by and although he did not see the act, but sees a wet spot, he can and probably will arrest that person and charge them with indecent public exposure, which is now a sex crime!

          2. Elizabeth*

            I didn’t actually use the phrase “minor attracted,” and I don’t think I’m minimizing what he did. He deserved punishment for his past actions, and he got it.

            My general point of view (regarding crimes of all sort) is that the criminal justice system’s main goal should be to prevent future crime. I don’t believe that making someone who viewed child porn a permanent social pariah with no way to earn a living prevents future crime. In fact, I believe it will make future crime more likely, because what would the offender have to lose? Rather, I think that the focus should be on rehabilitation.

            I actually think that my sympathy for people who have done wrong in the past and are trying to do right now is something that helps me as a teacher.

            1. Susan*

              This is definitely shaky territory. Although I initially thought, “Oh God, a sex offender in the office, ugh”, you do have a point that rehabilitation can help prevent future crime or repeat offenses.

          3. Ruined Life*

            anon… I know this is an old post, but a new perspective about your answer. By now you surely have educated yourself on the nature of sex offenses, what they are, what causes them, treatment, civil commitment, registry and the likes. The guy IS NOT a pedophile. At worst he has a sick fetish also known as a paraphilia according to the DSM IV (Diagnostics and Statistics Manual). There are many, myriads of military personnel who view porn daily, surely and hopefully not child porn, but adult porn and it in no way “fuels” (anon, 2012) abuse. What are you saying? Check and recheck….don’t give your own thoughts about anti-social behaviors when you don’t know what they are about. Thanks for educating yourself!

      7. Anonymous*

        Is your kid going to be hanging round your workplace or exposed to this guy and left alone with him?

        If so then you should know. If not… none of your business!

      8. Anonymous*

        They are not around YOUR kid and he didn’t rape a child, he was looking at child pornography – for all we know it was a 17 year old girl and he didn’t KNOW that.

        I just agree with the due process fact. I’m a parent of two little girls and I would never let a person like this socialize with my children but last time I checked, my kids don’t go to work with me.

        I think AAM’s advice was spot on.

        1. Anonymous*

          They don’t send people to prison for looking at pics of 17 year old girls, and anyone who buys child porn is directly responsible for child sexual abuse. You should educate yourself on the realities of the child porn industry.

          1. Anonymous*

            They absolutely do send people to jail for looking at pictures of 16 and 17 year old girls, that unless they are labeled as such, look exactly like 18 and 19 year old girls… you should educate yourself on the US legal system.

      9. Mishsmom*

        I am a parent and think it’s ok for him to work there. Just because we think we know our co-workers doesn’t make them any safer… I exercise that safety no matter who it is.

      10. so what*

        would you rather him be dead or doing somthing to anothers kid or have a job where you worked

      11. Roger*

        What you don’t understand is that most sex offenders are innocent. Many registered sex offenders did nothing more than look a a picture of child porn or maybe it wasn even child porn but the police and prosecutors coerced and threatened the alleged violator with multitudes of time unless they plead guilty and many of these people are poor, don’t know the law or their rights and must depend on a public defender that works for the court system. This is why an estimated 10,000 innocent people are convicted every year plus the police and prosecutors can lie and even manufacture evidence. Go to GOOGLE and type in THE INFALLAIBLE PROSECUTOR and read that story, then type 10,000 innocent people convicted annually and read that story. You need to educate yourself on the U.S. Constitution and the constitution of your own state. Don’t forget this BIBLE quote Judge ye not lest ye be judged! These pedos as you call them may actually be innocent. Now think about this, if you think you can’t be convicted of a crime of any nature, you had better think again. If you say no I can’t, I obey the law, you missed something
        in 10,000 innocent people convicted, they obeyed the law. All it takes is for someone to point the finger and you will be fighting for your freedom. Stop condemning people that you know nothing about except what you heard or read, this is hearsay even when it comes from the courts and you have no facts to support it. You need to educate yourself on the law and it’s corrupt practices. You need to help change stupid laws like declaring a person a sex offender because they looked at what the law calls child porn even though it may not hav e been child porn at all and even if it was a law, calling that a sex offense is absolutely stupid and no sane person could agree that it is!
        email me if you like, I can tell you many more horror stories!
        Like how a virus can put child porn on your computer!

      12. Q*

        The facts of the matter, for all you naively concerned parents, is that a child is at far greater risk of being molested by YOU than some guy in your office. Crimes against children, statistically speaking, are crimes of opportunity and trust–committed by relatives, guardians, and people within an entrusted custodial capacity.

        Human Rights Watch, an organization NOTORIOUS for caring about the well-being of children, suggests scrapping the registry as we know it. They issued a long report regarding it, so I recommend interested parties check it out.

        As a student studying criminal justice and psychology, I am impressed with the number of surprisingly rational posts from people on here. Considering it’s very difficult for even people with non-sexual felonies to get decent jobs demonstrates the harsh reality that society has constructed for people wishing to rebuild their lives. It’s bad enough what well-intentioned ex-offenders must contend with, but registered sex offenders have become the untouchables in an newly emerging social caste. It is a pity. No one does it like the USA does it, that’s for sure.

      13. Beth*

        I am a parent of one 10 yr old. My husband is a registered sex offender. He was chatting with two girls online 15 yrs ago that claimed to be 20 yrs old, they were 14. No discriminating pics were exchanged. He never met these girls in person. He spent 5 yrs in prison and has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He is the best guy I have ever known. We have spent all of our money appealing his case and have got the worst of the offenses appealed and taken off his record, but we have no money left to keep fighting. The piece of paper they pass out to our neighbors still has his worst crimes listed on it that were appealed, the sheriffs dept will not remove it. Our lawyers says for more money he can make them take it off. Our sweet daughter is the greatest kid in the world in my husband the best father ever and such a great guy. It is unreal how people treat us that know about his past compared to those that don’t. He can not get regular employement anywhere and no one wants to rent us a home anywhere. He did not plead guilty to anything (even though they tried thier best to make him) and had more than 30 people come forward to testify about his character and how he is a good person, even ex-girlfriends from years back. They had no one testify against him in court. The judge alone made the decision to give him the full punishment for everything that he was accused of where the burden of proof did not apply. Even his prc officer that he had to report to for the first 5 years after he was released told him that he had never seen anyone get screwed so bad. I prayed for so long as my daughter grew up that we would meet good people that would not be so quick to judge us and that we would find somewhere to fit in. We have not. Our current neighbors are terrible, they will not even have a conversation with me about it and let me explain anything. My daughter just wants friends that don’t judge her. Her friends at school do not know and that is probably where she gets her most normal interaction with other kids. There is one girl on our street that loves to play with my daughter, they live next door, but she rarely is allowed to and they are not even allowed to walk in our yard. My husband works at a car dealership now and is gone 90% of the daytime including weekends, but they don’t care. I have read more comments on here from decent people on this subject than I have seen in so long, so thank you to everyone on here that says anything in support of those done wrong by our system and thank you for not standing in instant judgement of people period :)

        1. Job seeker*

          I am so sorry for your little girl. I am a mom and I hate for any child to have to be punished for things that involve their parents. I do not believe in judging people but you as a parent do understand how other parents are concerned. As a mother my first concern is for the safety of my children. I would be concerned if I thought any man (father or not) was a registered sex-offender. I am really sorry you and your little girl are caught in this situation.

    2. Anonymous*

      I’m a parent. I would have been upset to find a coworker was a pedophile before I had kids. But, now that I have them, I have to admit that I would be absolutely livid beyond belief. I would really lose it with HR. Having kids does change things. I am not saying that only parents can care about kids, just that it does change how you view issues like this.

      1. Anonymous*

        Overreact much?

        Do you kids come to work with you?

        We all work with ppl with backgrounds – and you don’t know anything about them – are you going to get a full background check on everyone you work with? I saw some pretty crazy sh*t in Baghdad – saw a 7 year old boy ran over by a convoy (they could not stop for children b/c the enemy would put them in the road ON PURPOSE as a way to get convoys to stop and then they’d attack the convoy). I shot and killed ppl. I have no hard feelings and frankly am incredibly proud of my service – ppl might not enjoy hearing the gorey details but I kick ass at my job regardless of how I got to this point in my life. His child porno background may have consisted of one picture from an email forward. WHo is to say – if you are going to run around freaking out about everything – you should probably go home and helicopter parent your children 24-7.

        1. Dan*

          LOL! Thanks for the reality check. I don’t understand why some people fly off the handle like that.

      2. Emily*

        I just can’t wrap my head around this. I understand personal distaste for the guy, but anger at HR for hiring him? Presumably he was the most skilled person for the job, and there are no children in the workplace. What’s the big deal? Just leave him to do his job in peace and don’t try to become friends with him.

  2. Anna*

    Just so you know, sex offenders may be “notorious” for reoffending, but that notoriety is undeserved. In fact, people convicted of sex offenses are several times less likely to be rearrested for any crime, much less for a sex crime, than are people convicted of most other types of offenses. In other words, you should be more worried that some of your coworkers have likely been arrested for getting into bar fights or for stealing than you should be about this coworker who, whatever his crimes, should not have the rest of his life ruined by a single offense.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know about the stats on their reoffending, but it does seem to be acknowledged that it’s very difficult for someone who has an attraction to children to just get over it (although whether or not they act on it is an entirely different matter).

      That said, I was actually just coming back here to say that in a department of 85 people, you can be confident that there are a number of disturbing things in your coworkers’ pasts that you don’t know about, some of them potentially criminal or even violent (even if they didn’t result in a conviction). This guy isn’t the only one.

      1. Anonymous*

        I just posted a similar response a couple posts up. A coworker could’ve murdered a child when he was 14 and been released at the age of 18 or NEVER BEEN CAUGHT… your coworker (not this guy but someone else) could be actively looking at child porno everyday and never been caught – it is a risk you run when dealing with people in general.

    2. moe*

      Sure, but consider how under-reported child sexual abuse is. Sex crimes in general, actually. Of course they’re not getting rearrested! Very few get arrested in the first place.

      And I think AAM is pretty accurate about the difficulty of rehabilitating someone from an attraction to children, which is a separate issue entirely.

    3. Anonymous*

      Wrong. Sex offenders (with child molesters included) were found to be 4 times more likely to reoffend than other types of criminals according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics :

      While I’m not 100% convinced released offenders shouldn’t be able to work in a field where there’s a low likelihood of reoffending on the job, I’m torn. I was in a somewhat similar situation where I found (in a public, free way) that a coworker had a relevant criminal record. He had just been promoted and I was worried it would look like I had a case of jealous. After a lot of knashing of teeth, I decided that if I found it, my employer could too, and I kept my mouth shut. It worked itself out-he was fired and apparently it was ugly-but I still wonder sometimes if I would have forgiven myself if something bad happened. But in that case, the conviction was relevant to the job and people were hurt directly rather than indirectly by the crime, so maybe it’s different. Assume you don’t know the whole story, and do what lets you sleep at night. I think crimes against children are a big deal, but if it’s not relevant to this situation, his past is none of your business. He’s already served his time, and he hasn’t done anything wrong since his release that you know of, so I’d keep my personal feelings about his crime to myself.

      1. ThomasT*

        Thanks for the link. You’re mis-citing it, though. The highlighted point says “Compared to non-sex offenders released from State prisons, released sex offenders were 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime.” 4 times more likely to be arrested for a sex crime, not for any crime. Which is to say, someone who was in jail for sexual assault is four times more likely to reoffend sexually than someone who is in jail for burglary. The question of overall recidivism rates is not addressed in the summary.

        1. Ellie H.*

          Great clarification Thomas. Mis-stated or mis-interpreted (willfully or no) recidivism rates are one of my pet peeves. Though I do think that Anonymous 4:54 PM is right on that the OP should keep his or her feelings to him or herself.

      2. Anonymous*

        Just read the link. Maybe you should also. First, it states only 5.3% re-offend within 3 years. Second, the study was done on offenders released in 1993 (20 years ago!!!).

  3. Imran*

    Pedophilism is a sexual disorder and manager is right, it doesn’t go away just because you lock up some one.

    If a guy gets off at kids well into his mature age, it’s not going to change. Asker must keep a vigilant eye.

  4. Wilton Businessman*

    First of all, it’s none of your business. If you know this information and decide not to associate with him outside of work, that’s your choice.

    If your company does checks, they probably know. Heck, if you found it, I am sure they did. Lets say they do know it and you bring it up, what does that make you look like? (assuming you’re not in HR)

    Lastly, if the man has paid for his crime shouldn’t we give him the benefit of the doubt? I understand the likelihood of re-occurrence is greater, but you probably have just as much threat from one of your other coworkers that haven’t been caught yet.

    1. The OP*

      The sex offender and I both live in the same town, which is about an hour away from our job in a different county. Nearly everyone else is local to the job (at least in our department). He wouldn’t show up in a search of their city, but shows up in my Megan’s Law search because I put our specific town in.

      Needless to say, I would NEVER tell any of my co-workers this information. As I previously stated, they would have his head. Children and grandchildren are probably the number one topic of conversation at work.

      One thing I do know for sure: I won’t be carpooling with him to work.

      1. Anonymous*

        Gotta say – sounds like you might have another issue and this is not your true issue.

        Forgive and forget. This guy did a crime, is doing his time, he’s forever got his name on numerous websites telling the world he screwed up. God gets to judge him – not you. Other coworkers could be into Child porn, too, and just haven’t been caught – so you should probably avoid all ppl from here on out.

      2. Joey*

        This begs a more difficult situation in my opinion. What do you do when your co workers start talking about children and grand kids in his presence? Do you tell them anything then?

      3. Beth*

        The only way your workplace does not know about this guy is if you worked for an individual running a small business, but that is not the case where you are. They 100% know about it, I live with it (my husband is registered) you cannot hide from it. He probably works outside of his county to avoid harrassment from people like you and your co-workers. It is none of your business, you should 100% leave this guy alone. You do not even know his situation. Just imagine the worst things anyone has ever accused you of doing. Now imagine everytime before you met someone they were given a description of you based on these accusations. He probably loves coming to work at a place where he is not judged. That is what it is like for so many registered sex offenders regardless of what they are or are not guilty of. The title is placed very loosly on a long list of crimes and is automatically assumed to be the worst case scenario. Plus in many states the burden of proof does not apply in so many of these situations, so basically if you get accused of anything, they are going to convict you of something, in many situations there is nothing that can be done about it but try and fight it after the fact, if you can afford it. We won appeals to get the 2 worst crimes my husband was convicted of dropped off, but this is after 5 years in prison and 5 years on prc. We are broke and cannot afford attorneys any more and if we had any $ we would spend all of it fighting to get his name cleared. He is the best man I have ever known and has dealt with terrible circumstances. We and our 10 yr old daughter appreciate it when we meet a rare person that doesn not judge first, but rather gets to know us based on our character and values in life. We are good people and do not deserve to wear the scarlet letters we wear everyday.

  5. WebChick*

    Ugh. At a previous job, we had a similar situation.

    A young man (mid-20s) was hired on our team. From day one, there were some slight personality clashes with the rest of our team (those of us who had to work directly with him had no say in the interview process), but he did decent enough work, so no problem.

    About 6 months later, he mysteriously went out on paid leave (we found out via a cryptic email from his manager – no mention of a family issue or anything). After about a week, work was piling up, we had no answers of when he was returning, so we started to get curious. A quick Google search revealed the reason – he was currently on parole for an assault and battery conviction from 2 years prior. Turned out he had a history of violence against women and family members (including an incident where he pushed his own mother down the stairs as a minor), a 3-page rap sheet in another state… and none of this was disclosed when he was hired.

    The hiring manager had completely dropped the ball by not Googling him during the hiring process – this info was on the first page of results just from searching for his name. Someone else in the company had Googled him and brought it to HR’s attention, hence the paid leave while they followed up with his doctors/therapists/parole officers to determine whether he was a threat in the workplace.

    The crazy thing? Even with his history, the company allowed him to come back to work. A small group of us knew what had happened – everyone else was in the dark. It was very uncomfortable – the guy tended to stay late at work, while other women were still in the office. I stopped staying late if he was around. A male coworker who knew the situation was also uncomfortable because he felt compelled to stick around if this guy and any women were in the office late.

    I’m no longer with the company, but I have friends still there. The guy left recently for another job, and no one was unhappy about it (even those who were unaware of his past). I was curious where he ended up, so I searched… and came across a police log that showed that he got arrested again. While he was on that paid leave. For assault and battery. And they let him come back.

    I’m not sure how the company could have handled the situation better. But I can’t help feeling like it was handled very poorly, and it did factor into my decision to leave.

    1. khilde*

      I’m re-reading the Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker (it was talked about recently in a post here and it got me interested in reading it again). I’m to the part where he’s discussing workplace situations and yours that you described here sounds a LOT like the examples he’s used! Crazy! You should check it out at least to see how he suggests workplaces handle these situations. Very interesting stuff.

      1. Lils*

        Love this book…it’s helped me become the assertive person I am today. I don’t remember if it addresses children’s issues specifically, but I think that the OP would find value in DeBecker’s discussion of useful vs. less-useful fear.

  6. Aaron*

    I think AAM’s analysis is spot-on in terms of whether or not a company should have a policy of not hiring registered sex offenders, but is slightly beside the point since the letter-writer thinks her company doesn’t already know this information. This is the type of thing the company should be made aware of regardless of the letter-writer’s personal feelings about whether the sex offender should be kept on. The company probably wants to make sure they don’t ask this person to temporarily watch another co-worker’s child, give the person an office next to the daycare in the building, etc.

    If the letter-writer anticipates this will get the sex offender unfairly fired, I sympathize, but that’s not a great reason to keep this information from the company. Unless this workplace is somehow unusually well-insulated from any contact with children, I think there are so many scenarios where HR would quite legitimately want to know this information that it’s not really the employee’s call.

    1. Anonymous*

      If HR wants or needs to know, they need to get off they butt and find out on their own.

      No one should be put in the position of being the tattle-tale because HR is incompetent.

    2. Ellie H.*

      I find the idea that someone would accidentally ask an older, male, recently hired coworker to watch his or her kids, when the OP has offered that nobody ever brings his or her kids to work, laughable. She doesn’t even say there’s a daycare center where she works. I’m sure there’s not because she would have mentioned it. I can’t think of any scenario in which HR would legitimately want to know this information except for during an initial background check. I feel like you’re jumping to wild worst-case scenario conclusions.

  7. Joey*

    If he’s not working around kids or it doesn’t affect his job in any way why does it matter? It sounds like you dont make the hiring/firing decisions about this guy so whether or not he was a good hire based on what you found is irrelevant. And it’s very possible that the company does indeed know about it but determined it had no bearing on his ability to do the job.

    1. moe*

      It matters because it says something about his character and level of impulse control. He is (or was) willing to break the law and a number of social taboos, all for some brief sexual release. Not knowing the nature of the child pornography he viewed, he either considers (or considered) child abuse or exploitation to be a satisfactory price for someone else to pay in order for him to get off. Normal, ethical people–and ethical pedophiles, too, don’t forget–don’t do this. It’s scary the number of boundaries he crossed.

      It’s totally normal to be offended by this, even without trying to construct a scenario in which his employment could bring children into harm’s way.

      1. Mike C.*

        You’re really spewing a bunch of nonsense here that doesn’t at all fit with the body of literature on the issue.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          For those of us who aren’t familiar with the literature (including me), can you fill us in on where this kind of thinking seems wrong to you? Moe’s point seemed reasonable to me, even though it doesn’t change my overall answer. But I don’t know what the literature says on this kind of thing and would be really interested to know more!

          1. Elizabeth*

            Did you see the Human Rights Watch report from 2007 that Mike C. linked below? I haven’t read it all yet, but it’s very interesting.

        2. moe*

          Please point me to the literature suggesting that registered sex offenders are well-adjusted psychologically, with no impulse control problems.

          It doesn’t exist–quite the opposite, actually. But I know people like to toss around the “research says” thing whenever they find a disagreeable opinion, so I’ll extend you the opportunity to back up your assertions.

          1. moe*

            Sigh, probably stronger than I meant it to be. I realize there is a lot of research on this and not all of it agrees–but I do object to being told I’m “spewing nonsense” when this is something I have studied quite a bit with as much of an open mind as I could muster.

            In my reading, the consensus does seem to be that registered sex offenders differ from other people in various psychological traits. This is not to say that the sex offender registry doesn’t have its problems, or that all registered sex offenders are doomed for life… but there IS justification for what I stated.

            Apologies for contributing to the snark quotient.

            1. Mike C.*

              I was snarky too, so my bad as well.

              Be careful when you refer to”registered sex offenders”. There are tons of reasons why someone could be registered and many databases don’t make a distinction why. Rob Lowe famously picked up an underage women at a bar for instance, and many states would have had him register even though he though he was going home with a women much closer to his own age.

          2. Mike C.*

            This I mostly agree with, but when you start talking about “ethical pedophiles” you seem to indicate that people choose whether they act on these impulses like someone choses a Big Mac over a Whooper for dinner. They don’t. They’re fundamentally sick. The DSM-IV-TR and the ICD-10 both list diagnostic criteria. Their actions are harmful just the same, but it’s not an issue of a simple choice.

            If I misread you in that then I take it back, but no one choses to be this way, and many were victims themselves!

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              There’s actually a very interesting letter in Dan Savage’s most recent column, from a guy who has struggled with this sort of problem his whole life but has never acted on it and desperately wants help for it. He wrote to Dan Savage to ask about whether there’s a way for him to seek help without opening himself to legal problems. It was very sad.

              1. Lils*

                I immediately thought of Dan’s column when I read the OP’s letter. Dan’s answer indicated that people who’ve gotten in trouble with the law might be the *only* people able to get professional help in some places. While that worked against the man in Dan’s column, perhaps it means the offender in the OP’s letter has gotten the help he needs.

            2. moe*

              I’m a bit confused, since earlier you seemed to take issue with my assertion that registered sex offenders have a demonstrated problem with impulse control, and have various other psychological traits that are of concern.

              The argument that there’s *no* choice in acting on one’s urges goes too far, imo. It may be a matter of personal philosophy/responsibility to me… but if we’re actually dealing with a situation in which there’s a group of people who’ve lost all ability to control themselves? If that’s true, they shouldn’t be working, let alone walking the streets! That’s scary.

              I believe people do have more control over themselves than this. Not to choose *what* they’re attracted to, but whether they act on it, absolutely–barring addiction and extreme mental illness perhaps. I wouldn’t have a problem working with a pedophile or believing (s)he has a working moral compass until/unless I found out (s)he’d acted out before.

      2. Another Anon*

        Is it better that the man should be employed and somewhat supervised for eight hours a day, or unemployed? Maybe we’d like to lock him up forever or do away with him or magically make a wish come true that he had never been born. That’s not the option here. He can be hired or not. If he isn’t, maybe he would be hired elsewhere (perhaps employed, but Not In My Back Yard) or maybe he’d have a lot of free time on his hands as one chronically unemployed. Which is better or worse? Is the decision really different for a parent than for someone who doesn’t have his own children but who knows children, who loves children, or at least who was once a child?

      3. Joey*

        I’m not saying you don’t have the right to be offended, but unless you’re the manager your opinion doesn’t matter. And frankly it’s inappropriate to raise this kind of issue to your employer absent a business related reason. What you do have the right to is to quit if you don’t agree with the people the company hires.

  8. Anonymous*

    I would totally send an anon note to HR. There is NO CURE for pedophilia. What if someone’s kid visited (common at every office I have ever worked at) and this creep did something? How would you feel then?

      1. Jamie*

        There are instances where it could be a risk. My teenagers have worked at my place over school breaks and inventory weekends – it was a nice way for them to make some extra money and kind of get a glimpse into my work life.

        I trust no one, so my kids know about being careful, but there were certainly times they were out of my sight and alone with my co-workers. If one of them was a known pedophile and no one said a thing while they worked with my 13, 14, 15 year old kid I’d be livid…there are no words what my anger level would be.

        There are all kinds of unknown dangers out there. I’m not going to warn each of my co-workers not to walk in front of buses each time they leave work…but if I saw one barreling toward them I’d sure as hell scream a warning.

        I’m not saying it’s likely, but I have had my kids in working and I’ve worked in places where co-workers brought younger kids in and some would wander and I’ve been alone with their kids. Thankfully for them, I’m not dangerous.

        It’s not just the risk of the pedophile doing something at work, it’s allowing them to possibly develop an acquaintanceship with co-workers kids where a child could see them as “someone safe who works with mommy/daddy.”

        Sex offenders need to earn a living, but in my mind that will never trump the right of a parent to protect their child. If it’s all adults all the time – the OP doesn’t have an issue. If people bring their kids in, or they have family oriented company picnics, etc – it’s a huge burden for them to be aware of the danger alone.

        1. Anonymous*

          Pedophiles aren’t interested in people who’ve gone through puberty. It’s right there in the definition of the word. A grown adult who is interested in a 15 year-old is definitely skeevy and I wouldn’t want them near my child, but they’re not a pedophile.

          1. Jamie*

            I was referring to the ages of my kids when I mentioned teenagers, and while the vernacular may be different I would still be furious.

            Most offices I’ve worked in have had people bring in very young children though – and whether it’s right or not there’s seems to be a level of trust where there is less direct supervision than one would have at a park or the mall.

            This post is an excellent reminder that all adults need to be vigilant everywhere on behalf of the little ones who can’t protect themselves.

            1. Anon*

              It’s important to note, though, that most people who are sexually assaulted (children or adults) are victimized by someone they know. It’s a very uncomfortable truth, but it is the truth.

          2. fposte*

            They would nonetheless be sexual offenders, and they would appear in the category that this man does. Child pornography laws don’t articulate a difference between pre- and post-pubescent.

            1. Anonymous*

              True, but there’s almost no post-pubescent child porn out there; there’s just no market for it. You’ve got people (mostly male, mostly not sick or anything) who like “teen” porn, which is uniformly made with actresses above the age of consent, and then you have sick people who want pre-pubescent porn. 99% chance this guy was convicted for possession of porn involving young children.

              Now, as to what this says about what the letter writer should do, not sure. It’s probable that teenagers would be safe around this guy, but there’s no way to be completely sure. It really is a tough ethical dilemma, but I think AAM got it right.

        2. JT*

          ” it’s a huge burden for them to be aware of the danger alone.”

          The danger? For all we know this guy looked at kiddie porn. Gross, illegal, unethical, but what is the risk? Is he about to snatch kids the second no one else is around? Perhaps the OP should follow him on the street to make sure he doesn’t do that.

          Kids are at risk in all sorts of situations. People are at risk in all sorts of situations. To think that this guy is a particular danger has no basis in fact. We can speculate and let unknown fears grow to where they don’t seem remote. But I don’t think it’s wise to live in that sort of fear. And certainly not to advocate that other people take action based on it.

          1. Anonymous*

            He is sexually attracted to images or videos of (almost certainly) prepubescent children being raped, and has proven that he is willing to break the law and spend money in order to gain access to these materials. He has actively participated in activities that involved the sexual abuse/exploitation of actual real live children, in order to gain a sexual release.

            It’s certainly possible he may have gone through some kind of therapy program and be determined to be an “ethical pedophile.” But considering his past actions, it is not a huge stretch to at least wonder if there is a possibility his behavior might cross the line into directly sexually abusing a child.

            The attitude of, “well he probably won’t rape anyone and anyway parents shouldn’t let their kids out of their sight if they don’t want them to get raped” are pretty disturbing. It is incredibly easy for pedophiles to exploit any access to kids or to parents, even if they do not directly work with children.

            I do agree that this particular man should not suffer because of his past actions, and that the letter writer should not tell anyone. He has served his time and there is no evidence he is an active pedophile still. But people have every right not to be “yay pedophiles”.

            1. Gayle*

              No one here is “yay pedophiles.” Those who are more sympathetic (sympathetic is NOT the same thing as supportive though) are merely saying:
              (1) He didn’t choose to be attracted to children, so you should not fault him for this alone.
              (2) He did do something very wrong and illegal in purchasing child pornography.
              (3) And while it is definitely very wrong and illegal, it can also be somewhat understood. Many people – everyone, most likely – fails to have adequate willpower when our desire is great enough and the consequences (to ourselves and to others) seem small enough. I am NOT saying that a child is not very, very deeply harmed by being in child pornography. The child is – absolutely. However, the extent to which a *single person* who looks at child pornography participates / contributes to / sponsors the pornography is quite small. So, an otherwise reasonably ethical person might, if they had these urges which they cannot control, sometimes succumb to looking at it. It’s still very wrong, of course, but it’s also understandable.
              (4) Someone who looks at child pornography should be (and is, legally) regarded differently from someone who actually rapes children. Having a sexual attraction to children does NOT mean that you lost all sense of moral decency. Looking at child pornography is wrong, but nowhere near the extent of actually raping a child. Having a partial moral lapse when faces with attractions that you cannot control does NOT mean that you’ll have a much, much, much bigger moral lapse.

      2. Anonymous*

        It only take one moment for a sex predator to snatch a child. Most people think of work as a safe place. I have seen many coworkers visit with their children and leave them for a few moments to visit the bathroom, get a memo, etc. It is a bit victim blamey to imply that if a child is snatched and molested (or killed!) that it is because the parent willfully neglected them.

        1. Elizabeth*

          Child molestation is extremely unlikely to occur in the five minutes it takes for the parent to go to the bathroom. Statistically, the majority of such cases occur when the offender is someone trusted by the family and who has a relationship with the child – a babysitter, coach, older cousin, etc. The scenario where this man grabs a child and runs for the broom closet is quite unlikely to occur.

          1. fposte*

            Especially as there’s no indication he’s actually ever done that or wanted to. I’m not dismissing the significance of child porn, but it really isn’t the same as directly sexually molesting a human being.

            1. Jamie*

              I don’t draw the same distinction. For child porn featuring actual victims the molestation did happen. The purveyor supports this economically and socially thus ensuring more and more molestation will occur.

              Being one step removed doesn’t lessen the guilt, in my mind.

              You are guilty of first degree murder if you put out a hit on someone, even if you didn’t. Do the dirty work yourself. Would you still think it wasn’t the same if someone paid someone to do it while they watched in person? The media shouldn’t make a difference, IMO.

              I can see a lot of people have far more moderate views on this than I do.

              1. Gayle*

                “Being one step removed doesn’t lessen the guilt, in my mind.”

                Do you honestly believe this? Do you honestly believe that someone who looks at child porn (which only supports the industry if he paid for it, and only does so to a very small extent) is just as bad as a person as the one who actually molests a child?

                In my opinion, that’s looking at the world in a very black/white way.

              2. fposte*

                I can see where you’re going from a moral standpoint, but I don’t think your statement is true from a psychological/risk assessment standpoint, and I think those are valid here as well when considering the workplace implications. And the law does actually treat this differently from directly molesting a kid , so it’s different in law enforcement, too; the contract killing isn’t, I think, quite right as a parallel because this isn’t a direct order for a particular individual’s exploitation; it’s participating in an exploitation stream. And there really is a psychological difference between people who will abuse, hurt, and steal from people at a difference and those who will do it face to face; hell, I think most of us are probably living lives filled with items produced in working conditions that we’d never stand for if they were happening in front of us. I’m not trying to argue that your moral call is wrong–honestly, I’m still figuring out what mine would be here–I just think that the differentiation isn’t totally insignificant.

                A conversation like this is also a little complicated because we’re speaking both in general and in specifics. I can think of cases that would worry me more than the OP’s and those that would worry me less.

              3. anon*

                So you saying that by watching a video of, say,someone getting punched in the face on the news or on a tv show and being entertained by it, means that you are also guilty of assault just as much as the person doing the actual assaulting in the video. You are contributing to this type of behavior by watching it and should be charged with assault as well. This is just a mild example, this could be as extreme as watching the video of the sadam hussein hanging or someone being decapitated or a. dwi car crash caught on traffic camera that killed someone. Same principal. They put videos in the news of teenagers getting into brawls in a local McDonald’s in which the victim is severely injured. You watched it and whether you like it or not were entertained in some way by it, therefore you helpe contribute to this type of behavior. Doesn’t really work when you strip it down to its basic form, does it? These actions would take place whether you watched it or not just as with the original circumstance. Sometimes people can be blinded by taboo things but when you actually think about it, its not much different then viewing any other crime other than its stigma. Czech republic legalized the viewing of such material and found that sexual assaults in general actually went down significantly. Need I remind you that most of these materials are created in other countries where this is not only legal but expected. Girls become wives as young as 10,11,12, therefore people are making this material of themselves and their wives…. We call it child porn, they call it a homemade kardashian sex-tape.

                1. Holly*

                  Excellent point!

                  If you look at photos of the Manson Family’s killing sprees on E True Hollywood stories, does that mean that you should be locked in prison for murder?

            2. Anonymous*

              No, but child porn is the direct result of someone being abused. He paid for the porn, so he paid for the abuse to occur.

              1. Kimberlee*

                Child porn doesn’t *require* abuse of children… it can be made using digitally rendered images. The absurd thing is that that is illegal too, for some reason…. so (while its not likely), he could have been arrested and convicted in a scenario where absolutely no harm was done to anyone. Its totally possible.

            3. Anonymous*

              Yes, it absolutely, unquestionably is. – An actual victim of the child porn industry.

              1. anon*

                Please remember, anything you should be paying for on the internet can easily be found for free. You do not have to pay for this material in any way, shape, or form. For example, Adobe PhotoShop, $500-1000 program … Can be found for free within 2 minutes. So….. Therefore if they never paid are they still contributing?

        2. becky*

          People, he was arrested for PICTURES not doing anything. Skanky and scary? Absolutely. Possible a “gateway drug”? Maybe. But he is apparently a middle aged man who had pics, not actions. Anyone read the NYT article of the paranoid schizophrenic man who decided to ignore his voices, and does it without drugs? Or the Ace on Dan Savage’s column? Or you, who reads S&M/Laurel K Hamilton? We all have deviant crap in our thoughts. And most of us just ignore it. Savage’s shrink is right. We need a version of AA for people like that poor man.

          1. Anonymous*

            Actually there are 12 step groups for people with addictions to sexual behavior- Sex Addicts Anonymous and S-Anon.

      3. Bob G*

        What is the harm in contacting HR to “bring it to their attention” in case they are not aware”? No opinion either way but you make sure the company knows about this person’s past (which seems to be unclear) and you know you’ve done what you can do to make them aware.

        This issue always tears me in two directions because I believe someone who has “paid their debt to society” by going through the justice system should be given a chance to make a living or they are highly likely to re-offend. Having said that I can also see that the choices they made were their choices and there are consequences. People don’t get hired for posting “inappropriate” pictures on Facebook, but we shouldn’t consider this person’s possession of child porn? That doesn’t make sense either.

        Reporting it to HR (with all emotions removed) is not even telling them something that is not public record. There is a reason people get placed on a sex offender’s list, if the company knows and chooses to keep him employed then so be it, but at least make sure they are aware.

        1. Anonymous*

          The “harm” is that you might cost this guy his job and his ability to make a living.

    1. Mike C.*

      Folks need to understand that the vast, vast majority of these crimes involving children happen because the criminal is well known and trusted by the family of the children.

      So this means other family members, coaches, teachers, members of the clergy, etc. Your scenario seems highly unlikely, because if the sight of a kid made someone like this go nuts, they would have gone nuts already and would be sitting in prison.

      1. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady*

        Exactly. They guy at your office is probably the last person you need to worry about. Your kid is never alone with him. He’s with adults all day.

        I’d be far more concerned about a whole host of other crimes.

        1. Anonymous*


          What do you know about your kid’s teachers? His coaches? His babysitter? Your neighbor? How well do your REALLY know your best friend that you allow into your home?

          If you allow paranoia into your life and decide to live in fear, you will start to question everthing ane everyone.

          That’s no way to live.

          1. Bob G*

            But now you do know…that is the point. Once you know what is your obligation. It still hasn’t even been confirmed that the company is aware or not. What if something does happen and he re-offends and they find out you knew and didn’t tell them…doesn’t that sound a lot like the Penn State issue?

            1. Anonymous*

              No it doesn’t. Jerry Sandusky was witnessed abusing someone, and regularly had access to other potential victims. That is completely different from this scenario, where there may not have even been a victim (drawings of children have been used to convict people of child porn), the person was caught, punished, and isn’t even in an environment where recidivism is an issue.

            2. Gayle*

              Exactly. This is not the Penn State situation at all.

              (1) OP’s coworker is not (to the best of anyone’s knowledge) currently committing a crime. Sandusky was actively committing a crime.
              (2) Looking at child porn – while illegal and unethical – is not on the same level as raping children.
              (3) No children are in danger with the OP’s coworker. Children were in danger with Sandusky.

              To put it simply, Sandusky was a police matter where not reporting it meant more children would be raped. This is, at most, an HR matter (and, odds are, they couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything).

    2. Andrew*

      Why an anonymous note? If it is important enough to you, you should have the courage of your convictions and sign your name.

      If I were in HR and received an anonymous accusation such as this, I would be inclined to assume it was cheap office gossip and throw it out.

      1. Anonymous*

        Right. If you’re possibly going to get someone fired. Have the backbone to stand behind your actions or sit down and mind your own business.

        “Anonymous note”. SHM

  9. lexy*

    Ugh… what a tough situation. Agree w/ AAM mostly. I think a link to some of the information you found nonlinear to HR (not his manager) is in order. Unless you know all the details of his arrest (like AAM said, sometimes the charges don’t tell you the whole picture) or if you think he is in a position where children could be at risk, it’s best to not stir up what could end up being a mob-like situation that runs him out of town. He could be in intensive therapy, there are dozens of reasons that despite his arrest he isn’t a threat. Even sex-offenders deserve to make a living if they aren’t being put in a situation where they are likely to re-offend.

  10. Mike C.*

    This report by Human Rights Watch was released a few years ago and is a rather fascinating look at this and related issues:

    The link goes to the .pdf of the report. It’s 146 pages, but you can skip around to sections that might interest you. I don’t want to derail the topic at hand with this link, but I think many here would find it interesting so here it is.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Thank you for this. I don’t think it’s derailing the topic at hand – rather, it’s extremely relevant and has statistical data to inform the discussion. It is long, but fascinating!

  11. Anonymous*

    Just to bring up the point that sometimes what you are charged with in these cases far exceeds what actually happened. I went to high school with a guy that many years later I heard was on the sex offenders list. I looked him up, and sure enough he was on there for molesting minors. Like you I assumed the worst.

    A few years after that I was back home visiting and ran into a distant relative of mine, whose uncle was the chief of police in that town. She also knew the guy in question. The guy’s name came up and she told me what really happened.

    The guy was 18 years old in Port Aransas on Spring Break (think Mardi Gras in New Orleans but on the beach). He was drunk as Cooter Brown and two hot looking ladies in bikinis came walking by. He flashed them. Turns out they were sixteen. BAM, next thing you know the guy is a registered sex offender, on the list for molesting minors.

    What he did was stupid, gross, and offensive but in my mind I don’t think of him as a child molestor. So the point of this long narrative is that they guy in question could have had child pornography that consisted of naked photos 17 1/2 year old girls or boys. In the eyes of the law its the same thing as having pictures of very young children.

    1. Anonymous*

      Agree. I once worked in a role where we had to run police checks on people. One person was done for indecent exposure – which can cover sexually oriented crimes such as flashing. However, it can also cover streaking at a sports match, or in this person’s case, getting caught rather short – and complained about! It’s clearly not in the same bracket as paedophilia – but there are differing levels in every crime.

      1. ThatHRGirl*

        I run criminal background checks as well. Indecent exposure can also include urinating in public.

  12. Jamie*

    I’m not surprised the comments seem tense already – this is such a loaded topic.

    FWIW there are certainly many instances of people being unfairly branded with the sex offender label (which have been sited above), and there are also many instances of evil people doing horrific things to children.

    Assuming the offender doesn’t work with kids, then there probably isn’t much HR could do about it.

    I don’t blame the OP for being skeeved about this. I, like many people, put this in a special category of crime which isn’t washed away by doing some time.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, I was going to mention the tense comments thing — this is a really hard topic, but let’s try to keep the temperature low around here. Everyone means well, even if they disagree.

  13. AD*

    The OP does not really give any good reason that she thinks her company doesn’t know about this guy’s past. She says that none of her own references were checked, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t do a criminal background check. I have never heard of a company checking credit but not criminal background. Plus, if the guy was in jail at some point, he would have an employment gap to explain. Unless HR/the hiring managers are totally incompetent, they know.

    Also, I once worked somewhere that a former sex offender was very publicly outed. It was totally unnecessary and very sad for all involved.

    1. Aaron*

      I agree, there have been good points suggesting it’s entirely possible the company knows. But the letter-writer thinks the company doesn’t know, and would want to; isn’t this at least possible?
      If the company already knows, what’s the harm in passing it along to HR in a confidential way? If they don’t know, couldn’t there be legitimate reasons they would want to?
      Maybe the answer to the second question is no, there is no legitimate reason the company would care, but (as someone not in HR) I would think the employer would at least want to ask questions like those posted here before continuing to employ this person.

    2. Student*

      Look, a criminal background check is not some process where you type in a guy’s name and birth date into a magic box and find out about every conviction he’s ever had. I have no idea where people get this idea – maybe TV shows. Every single state in the US has their own database of criminals, their own laws for which crimes get reported and for how long. Some convictions are sealed or expunged, meaning that they are removed from official records. Additionally, computers are a very new invention that are only just now catching on. Older crimes were recorded on that old-fashioned medium, paper, which can be burned, flooded, lost, or misfiled. And, frankly, pedophilia was not considered a “serious” crime until much more recently in many states.

      This means that criminal background checks are not fool proof. They are not easy. They miss things. It’s not unusual to do a “criminal background check” in only one state. This means that Joe Coworker might have a “clean record” in Illinois, but a child molestation charge from when he lived in Indiana, or when he took a vacation to Wisconsin . It might mean he has a clean background in Illinois despite a prior conviction in Illinois, because a 2001 offense might’ve been printed on paper and lost in a basement flood of the courthouse, or simply mistyped into the Illinois computer database by a minimum-wage employee.

      The point is, the company may not know, even if they did run a decent criminal background check. My cousin had a heroin and domestic assault conviction, and still managed to slip past a criminal background check to work as a substitute teacher – the drug crime is supposed to exclude you from teaching in public schools in his state.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m going to assume that if the company runs a background check, they’d find this — even if only online. As Wilton said above, if the OP found it, it’s reasonable to assume the company would too.

        1. ThatHRGirl*

          It depends on the system/vendor they use, how far the records search goes back, and whether or not they are allowed to consider records past a certain time (as set by their legal dept). In my case, I am only able to consider things 7 years and newer. If I see something like this (or violent crime related) older than 7 years I have to consult with legal to determine whether or not I can consider it relevant.
          However in OP’s case, in my company it would be a big deal because we are a children’s clothing company – and have constant brand imaging & catalogs involving minors, as well as fit models coming in on a regular basis, and an image to uphold with our customer and their parents.
          But in OP’s post I got no sense that their business involved working with or around minors or images of minors at all.

  14. $.02*

    While taking an undergraduate statistics class, the professor was very friendly to female students — he was “touchy touchy.” Out of curiosity a group of us googled his name and came to find out he was a convicted sex offender — was convicted while coaching young girls soccer. Things changed from there on., it was just uncomfortable. You will be surprised what you will find if you search your co-workers. What you don’t know won’t kill you!

  15. ncd*

    Personally, I wouldn’t report this to the company. If the company has a policy against hiring, or a compelling reason not to hire, sex offenders, then they would already know about the situation and have worked it out with the person in question.

  16. Kimberlee*

    I think its also worth noting that he was convicted for looking at child pornography. Which can be generated without the use of any children (granted, most of it is probably not, but still). There’s no indication that he’s predatory in any way. Just because he’s attracted to children doesn’t mean he’s going to attack children.

    It’s an awkward situation, for sure. But I do really get sick of people who have a sexuality other than the standard straight constantly being portrayed as predatory… like how quickly characters that are gay or transsexual on TV get switched to being kinda rapey and skeevy (if not outright so).

    I agree that its bad that children get exploited and put into porn, and police should definitely discourage the making and distribution of that porn. But there’s nothing that this guy had done (so far) that indicates that he thinks its OK to have sex with children. So there’s no indication that anyone’s kid is in danger.

    1. Jamie*

      Being attracted to children is not in the same universe of having a sexuality other than straight. It’s being attracted to people who are by definition victims.

      It’s such a huge disservice to those who are gay or transgendered categorize them in the same “non-straight” group. Of course people who are gay or transgendered aren’t any more predatory than heterosexual people and I would be outraged if anyone was writing about being concerned with working with one.

      As far as how consenting adults choose to practice their sexuality I couldn’t care less. I do reserve my judgement for those whose sexual prediclictions require the victimization of another human being. And human beings who are little and can’t protect themselves? That’s not a difference in sexual preference. That is evil.

      To me anyone who is sexually gratified by child porn is a danger – their impulses and desires are inherently dangerous.

      If someone can look at images of children being victimized and not feel anything but revulsion and despair there is something really wrong with their hardwiring.

      1. Gayle*

        But it IS similar in the sense that it’s an orientation that someone didn’t choose to have. And just because someone’s turned on by it doesn’t mean that they will act on it. The vast, vast majority of people who are turned on by “bad things” (rape, etc) never act on it.

        But, yes, there’s something wrong with hardwiring. So have a little bit of sympathy for someone who was hardwired the wrong way and, as far as you know, has shown a lot of strength in not acting on it.

        1. Anonymous*

          Please stop comparing sexual predators to homosexuals. This is offensive. I get some of your points, but there must be better ways to make them.

          1. Gayle*

            I am not comparing sexual *predators.* Being attracted to children does NOT make someone a predator, any more than a guy who’s turned on by rape fantasies is a rapist.

            There is a huge difference between pedophilia (being attracted to children) and being a child molester (acting on those attraction). The vast majority of those who are attracted to children understand that to act on those desires would be incredibly wrong.

            Do you think that people who are attracted to children choose to have this desire? If not, how can you be so quick to condemn people who have desires that they didn’t choose?

            1. Anonymous*

              The OP says downthread that the coworker paid for child porn. He paid for children to be molested. Child porn isn’t a victimless crime and it is nothing to take lightly. This discussion is making me lose hope in humanity.

              1. Gayle*

                Me too. The amount of hatred people have for a group of people who didn’t choose this terrible affliction is very sad. Have some sympathy and understanding.

                Looking at, and especially purchasing it, isn’t right. But it’s also not fair to say that looking at child porn is the same thing as molesting children yourself. If a man looks at [adult] porn, is it the same thing as him hiring a prostitute (after all, in both cases, he’s “paid for people to have sex”)?

                I think that purchasing child porn is very, very wrong, because you are, even if to only a very very small degree, subsidizing an industry that is raping children. But, just because I think it’s very wrong doesn’t mean I can’t have some sympathy for what might drive a person to do that. It must be incredibly hard to have a sexual orientation that you can never truly fulfill. Since the US and Canada don’t really offer counseling programs to help, it shouldn’t be that shocking that someone would turn to [child] pornography to cope.

                I’m not saying that that makes it right – it doesn’t – but it should make it a bit more understandable.

          2. Lindsay H.*

            I agree wholeheartedly. A committed relationship between consenting adults of the same gender is nowhere near the same realm of child pornography/molestation. When it comes to the well-being of children some things are black and white. You shouldn’t get points for trying just because you’re attracted to children and don’t act upon those impulses. Seeing a child and smiling because they’re cute isn’t the same as paying to see them in sexually explicit photos.

            1. Gayle*


              I never said that homosexuality and pedophilia anywhere near the same thing. I only said that they shared similarities in that they are both sexual attractions. Do you disagree? Do you think that one is not a sexual attraction?

              And, I’m sorry, but you should get points if you have a sexual attraction to children but don’t act.

              Do you think people *choose* to be sexually attracted to children?

              If you agree that people don’t choose this, and it’s rather just a terrible condition that they have, why do you condemn someone as a terrible person because they have a condition that they can’t get rid of?

              Acting on such feelings may be a black and white issue. But simply having them is neither, because it’s not a choice.

              1. Lindsy H.*

                Yes, I do disagree. Sexual attraction to children is an illness; homosexuality isn’t. It isn’t a felony to fall in love with a consenting adult of the same gender. Looking at child pornogrpahy is.

                For the record, this co-worker did act, which is why he was convicted.

              2. Gayle*

                So, wait, you think that sexual attraction to children is not a sexual attraction? That seems contradictory. I assume what you really mean to say is that it *is* a sexual attraction, but that it’s also an illness. I basically agree with that (although I don’t know how you define “illness”). Obviously, there’s an enormous difference between pedophilia and homosexuality. NO ONE is equating them. (And, by the way, I am a huge advocate for 100% equal gay rights, gay marriage, etc. I am not, in any way whatsoever, anti-gay. Saying that sexual attraction to children and sexual attraction to the same sex and sexual attraction to the opposite sex and sexual attraction to your grandmother or whoever are all sexual attractions is not, at all, an anti-gay comment. It’s just true by definition.)

                But my bigger question was do you think people *choose* to be attracted to children? Or do you think they can be “cured” of this attraction?

      2. Kelly O*

        I have to agree with Jamie’s comment – “If someone can look at images of children being victimized and not feel anything but revulsion and despair there is something really wrong with their hardwiring.”

        I guess what bothers me on the deeper level is that you really don’t know what’s going on in someone’s head. Can he walk past the restaurant with families and kids eating lunch and be okay? Or is there something messed up in the brain that starts something going? Even if it’s something that can be pushed back, I just think those are people who need help.

        That’s where my moral/ethical quandry comes. While I think that person needs help, I don’t want him (or her, because it isn’t necessarily always men) around my kid, or my friends’ kids, or my relatives. But how do you help someone?

        Never mind the question of can the person actually be rehabilitated – there are studies about that that show results going either way, and no one seems 100% certain. Whether it’s “just images” or actual assault, it just seems… I don’t even know the word I’m looking for.

        I just cannot wrap my brain around the idea of seeing a child’s image in a sexual way. It’s one of those taboos that we still recognize in modern societies. (And it’s not related in any way to sexual orientation, or whatever kink you may participate in as a consenting adult. That does not bother me, so long as you’re talking about however many consenting adults of whatever gender.)

        I am going on way too long. I guess I just relate to what someone said in a previous comment – this makes the person look like a “safe” person. He works with Mom or Dad. You’ve seen him a few times. And a predator who decides they’re going to try it again just this once is going to exploit whatever is necessary to get the end result.

        1. fposte*

          But “again” in this case doesn’t have anything to do with kids he sees in real life, so even if he does reoffend, it’s not going to involve victimizing people he encounters at his workplace.

          I’m not claiming there’s no relationship between viewing child porn and sexually contacting the underage, but speaking strictly to the doing-what-he-did-again scenario, which is what you suggested, that’s not a workplace danger.

        2. Gayle*

          There is no evidence, at all, that he has preyed on children, and therefore it’s unfair to call him a predator.

          People do not choose to be attracted to children, and they certainly cannot “unchoose” it. It’s reasonable to believe, therefore, that they don’t necessarily think it’s okay to molest kids. So they will most likely never, ever act on it.

          In other words, just because someone is attracted to children (which they can’t control) does not mean they have no moral compass. I have no reason to believe that there’s any relationship between the two.

  17. Student*

    I disagree with AAM’s call on this. I’d suggest that the letter writer talk with her manager (or maybe HR, might depend on the company). Not walk into management’s office making demands that he be fired, mind you! I think it should be more of a discussion about how this impacts the letter-writer, and whether it has an impact on the company’s business.

    I’d say something along the lines of, “I found this out inadvertently through a Google search. It makes me uncomfortable with this co-worker, but I also believe in giving people second chances. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this guy’s past, and I’d also like your advice for how I can cope with my discomfort to work productively with this guy.”

    This lets you alert your boss to the guy’s history and the response this guy is likely to get from co-workers as they figure out that he’s a convicted pedo. It gives your manager an opportunity to evaluate whether this guy could present a problem to your business, or whether his past can be safely ignored in the context of his job. It gives your manager a chance to deal with the potential morale problem head-on as this info gets around (it will, even if you don’t mention it to anyone).

    If this guy wants to re-enter society, he’ll need to have a manager that is honestly giving him the benefit of the doubt. If his manager finds out about his conviction later, and isn’t so ready to provide second chances (or perhaps finds out that this guy lied on his job application about a criminal history), then this guy will not be getting a second chance at this company any way. Better to have the issue out in the open and resolved, one way or the other, than leave it to fester and burst later.

    1. Anonymous*

      I totally agree with this. What is the harm in speaking to the manager anyway? Either they already know or the man lied on his application and should face any consequences of that.
      It’s not like it’s something he can hide forever. The Registered Sex Offender list is very accessible and more co-workers are going to find out eventually. And when certain ones find out, everyone is going to know. It would be good practice for management to be prepared to discuss it.

      1. JT*

        Do we really want to live in a society where someone can be convicted of a crime, do the time, and be hounded for ever for it?

        What is the purpose? Do we want to create yet another underclass of people who cannot get a job and cannot live properly in our society?

  18. Anonymous*

    While I understand where AaM is coming from, I just have to say that I absolutely, 100%, would not be cool with this. I would be taking to HR in an instant.

  19. Anonymous*

    I think it is important to remember that a lot of us are probably working in offices at the moment with people that are offending against their children, grandchildren, nephews or neices or friends children, you just don’t know who it is is at this moment, because it won’t come out till the child is older or they haven’t been caught yet. When it comes out it is probably that really nice guy or girl that you chat to in the luchroom, it probably won’t be someone who seems sinister at all. The problem with a sex offenders register is that enforces the stranger danger mentality when actually a child is most at risk from someone they know who will have cultivated a relationship with them over time. As some one mentioned above that is why there has been issues with teachers, scout leaders/ priests/ youth group leaders, these are all people that were able to groom children for their own ends.

    On the other hand if your children are in the workplace they should be in your sight and under your control at all times. I am sure we have all seen situations where some people bring their kids in and let them run riot, and don’t control them. Just becuase you don’t mind your child running up and down the halls and yelling and think it is cute doesn’t mean we all do. I do love it more when parents bring in children that play quietly, watch stuff on Ipad or do some colouring

    1. Anonymous*

      People like that have no impulse control when it comes to children. They can take a child from you before you know it. I hope nobody here ever learns that the hard way. It’s not something that only happens to children whose parents let them run wild. OP mentions that there are a lot of parents in this workplace. I’m sure they bring their children in sometimes.

      1. Gayle*

        Really? No impulse control? Based on what data?

        What data makes you say that people who have an attraction to children (one that they didn’t choose to have, mind you) has no ability to say, “Gee, I don’t think I’ll rape a child today”? After all, the vast majority of men who are attracted to women choose not to rape women – EVEN those who might fantastic about rape.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, the public perception of the data gets skewed because the people with decent impulse control keep their mouths shut so nobody knows about their attractions.

          (Admittedly, this is a guy who didn’t control his impulse to view underage porn. But if he has had the impulse to actually sexually molest children, he seems to have resisted it pretty well.)

          1. moe*

            We don’t know that. The vast majority of child sexual abuse is never reported, and yes, someone who has been caught viewing child pornography DOES pose a greater risk to children than someone who has not.

        2. moe*

          Anonymous was responding to a post about people who have already offended–not pedophiles in general.

          Obviously people who have offended have an impulse control problem, or else they wouldn’t have acted on impulses so likely to ruin their lives…

    2. fposte*

      I think the “you don’t know what’s already going on” is a good point. People tend to assume that what they’re familiar with and don’t know to be dangerous is safe, but that’s about familiarity, not accuracy. (It’s not likely to be a stranger who stole the coffee money, really.) So you’re never going to manage to make the workplace completely safe anyway. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say children always have to be within their parents’ sight, but parents should consider the workplace more a public place than an extension of their home as far as what degree of observation is appropriate.

      In this particular case, I’m inclined to think I might mention something to HR. If they already know, then it doesn’t hurt them to hear again. If they don’t know, then I do actually think they probably should (though I’m hoping they already know, because I’d like to think they didn’t miss it and the guy wasn’t going to lose his job). However, I wouldn’t go expecting to be told whether or not they know already or anything else about their approach to the matter.

  20. Anonymous*

    I think the most interesting part of this conversation isn’t the “I’m fine with a pedophile in my workplace” vs. “I would lose it if there was a pedophile in my workplace” debate. It’s the fact that in this horrible economy, where so many smart and experienced people are out of work, this company hired someone with a child porn conviction! This is amazing!

    1. NicoleW*

      I know, right? I have several relatives and former coworkers who have been looking for work for quite some time. Given the economy, I wonder what made this guy the most qualified candidate for the position. Granted, perhaps he is an awesome worker and interviewer, but it just make me wonder.

  21. Gayle*

    An attraction to children is not something people choose to have. It’s just something they have, and they live with. They can get treatment for it, and possibly work past their issues, but most likely they never will. It’s a terrible, terrible condition to have – and admittedly a dangerous one to have – but someone having it does not make them a bad person. How can you blame someone for something they didn’t choose to have?

    Attraction to children does NOT make someone a child molester. Likewise, an man might fantasize about rape, but this does not make him a rapist. A woman might fantasize about being raped, but this does not mean that they actually want to be raped.

    The vast majority of people who are attracted to children never act on their impulses. They know that, while this disgusting thing may turn them on, it would be incredibly wrong to actually act on it.

    Now, OP’s coworker did act on it — sort of — by looking at child pornography. This isn’t an entirely victim-less crime — obviously, the child pornography had to be produced at some point, and the means of doing so were most likely quite evil. But it’s also not on the same level as molesting children. If he didn’t pay for the child pornography, he didn’t encourage the production of it. One can make a rational argument that looking at (but not paying for it or otherwise encouraging its production) is “victim-less.”

    Moreover, using child pornography may well be a coping mechanism for his very unfortunate condition, much as a gay man in the 50s might have looked at gay porn as a substitute for acting on it.

    I know it’s hard to have sympathy for someone which society demonizes as a “pedophile,” but try. Try to recognize that this guy, in all likelihood, doesn’t want this condition. Try to recognize that, in all likelihood, he hasn’t acted on it, and that he won’t. Try to recognize that looking at child pornography may have been a way to cope with those urges that he can’t get rid of.

    By all means, don’t let him babysit your children or volunteer for the daycare center at work. It’s not worth the risk. But it doesn’t sound like he poses any risk to children through your job. So unless you really believe that the guy should be unemployed (again, he did NOT choose this), then it’s really not fair to him to let other people know.

    Have some sympathy for someone who got handed a terrible affliction and is trying to cope with it.

    (For further reading, I encourage you all to read a post called “Gold Star Pedophiles” from “February 4, 2010” on Dan Savage’s Savage Love column.)

    1. Anonymous*

      “…not something people choose to have” is language typically used to describe gay people. Gay men, in particular, have had a hard time defending themselves against baseless accusations that they are more likely to be pedophiles than straight men. Using this language when discussing/defending the impulses of pedophiles can be damaging to the gay community. Please be mindful of this.

      1. Gayle*

        Yes, and I’m using it in the same way. People don’t choose what they’re attracted to – gay people, straight people, pedophiles, people attracted to incest, etc. They can choose to act, but they don’t choose to have it.

        Using those words to describe both pedophiles and gay people does not suggest, in any way whatsoever, that gay people are pedophiles.

              1. Gayle*

                Because I don’t think that people choose to be attracted to children (or anything that they’re attracted to).

                And I don’t think it’s fair when people say that someone is terrible because they have a condition that they didn’t choose and can’t really do anything about.

                (If they ACT on it, then, yes, they’re terrible people. But being attracted to children does NOT mean that you’re going to act on it.)

              2. Elizabeth*

                Because they are people, too. Until they make decisions that harm people, they deserve the same rights as others around things like being allowed to earn a living.

              3. Jamie*

                In this situation he acted on it. He purchased porn made by victimizing children. It seems as if you are trying to soften this by conflating the OPs scenario with these people who think things and never act on those thoughts.

                There is no thought police. When the law is broken that’s when society gets involved. When you traffic is the abuse and destruction of children you don’t get to sit under the same tent as those who have impulses on which they’ve never acted.

                He did this at work. How strong are someone’s sexual impulses where they need to look at child porn at work? Pretty strong, I would say.

                With rare exceptions almost all adults have sexual interests. With rare exceptions most of us can control them in the office.

                With that Iemily stop posting on this topic. I apologize if I over posted. I am admittedly having a vicsearal reaction to what appears to me to be the minimizing of this crime.

                He should be able to earn a living. And while doing so his coworkers should be given information to keep their kids away from their job, if they see fit. And his Internet access should be monitored at work. If he’s truly so very reformed that shouldn’t pose an issue.

              4. Anonymous*

                “He did this at work…” I didn’t see anyone say that. Where did this come from?

        1. Anonymous*

          I know you don’t thinks it does, but it can. Our society is just now beginning to accept and embrace the gay community. This community has fought a very long battle against being associated with sexual predators. It’s so important to be careful about language used when discussing this topic because it can unintentionally trigger a connection between the two. The gay community should NEVER be used as a comparison in this type of case simply because of the nasty history behind this comparison.

          1. Jamie*

            This. It’s exactly what I was trying to say, but you articulated it so much better than I.

          2. Gayle*

            I would never want to associate homosexuality with pedophilia. They are obviously completely different and unrelated things.

            That said, I do believe the basic meaning of what I said — that people do not choose to be attracted to children. And I do not think it’s fair to object to that theory on the grounds that some people might somehow (bizarrely) take that to mean that homosexuality and pedophilia are at all related.

            So is there an alternate word choice that I should use to express this?

            1. Anonymous*

              Gayle, I am sorry for always having to disagree with you on this topic, but I come from a family where a relative is a convicted and dangerous child molester. So, I have a far less compassionate viewpoint when it comes to this. You do make some good arguments, and although I disagree with them, I respect that. I don’t know what other language you should use because I don’t agree with you on this particular matter, but I do feel strongly that you should back away from language where pedophilia and homosexuality are used as comparisons.

            2. Charles*

              Yes, there is an “alternative” that you could have chosen – didn’t you learn anything at Wharton business school?

              Here’s some suggestions: Some men have a preference for blondes, some women have a preference for tall men, some men have a preference for big breasts, some women have a prefernce for smart men, some women prefer strength instead. All of these (just of the top of my head in 2 seconds) would have been preferable to using the analogy of pedophile and gay. Simple enough?

              1. Gayle*

                Are you saying being gay is as changeable as a preference for blonde hair? That, too, is offensive – more offensive, if you ask me. It fuels those who think that gay people just need “treatment.”

                And, no, your analogies would not work here. I’m trying to say that people cannot change their attraction to children. Using a preference for blondes or tall people as an analogy would not work here, because that may, in fact, imply the opposite.

                Moreover, your analogies are in response to a question I never asked.

                My question earlier was not about how to avoid giving an analogy to homosexuality. It was responding to people who found merely the statement “An attraction to children is something that someone cannot choose or unchoose” offensive. Note that nowhere in there am I ever talking about homosexuality. But some people – perhaps not you – still found that wording offensive because similar wording is used to describe homosexuality.

                So, again, I ask. I want to express something that I believe – which is that people don’t choose and cannot “unchoose” to be attracted to children. Is this wording offensive? If so, what alternate wording would be less offensive?

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think at this point you guys are coming at this from two very different perspectives so rather than continuing to go round and round about it here, I’m going to suggest agreeing to disagree, since I don’t see either side making inroads with the other…

        2. Elizabeth*

          Absolutely agreed. The huge difference between gay people and pedophiles is that gay people can have consensual sexual relationships with the people they are attracted to, and pedophiles cannot – but neither one made a decision to be attracted to those people. Acting on attraction to a minor is morally wrong, but simply having that attraction is not. I feel sorry for people who struggle with these desires that they almost certainly wish they did not have, never acting on them.

          1. fposte*

            Right, this is another discussion going on with the Stranger column, and I think it’s a discourse issue in general on sexuality that’s really complicated right now. Since the question of which aspects of sexuality are chosen and which aren’t is one that’s come up most strongly in the area of GLBT rights, that’s kind of the starting point for new discussions of that question. So I think it’s understandable and I think it’s not because people are suggesting a correlation, but I also see why the history makes even that conversational segue problematic.

            1. Gayle*

              So then how do you make the same point (“hey, people didn’t choose this”) without appearing to link homosexuality with pedophilia?

              I don’t think it’s fair to say that you can’t make that point (which is very, very important in this case) because some ignorant people might twist that to saying that gay people are pedophiles.

              1. fposte*

                Maybe by just leaving the whole analogy out? I actually don’t think it’s hugely important to this case–for one thing, nothing we say here is likely to be important to this case, really, because we’re just random folks on the web with nothing to do with it; and for another, if the point is that there’s restraint not to act on the impulse, he’s a crappy poster boy.

                And I get what you’re saying about the seeming unfairness, but I think there’s something to be said for respecting the oversized burden history has placed on some associations. It’s also just functionally something that can end up hampering an argument when you hoped it would further it. It’s the AAM-relevant portion–you have to deal with people as they are, and not as you think they should be.

                But really, I think we’re taking this outside of what can be dealt with in AAM territory, despite my clever tactic there.

              2. Gayle*

                People were objecting not just to an analogy, but to merely using an expression like, “he didn’t choose to be attracted to children.” They argued that because people use the same argument for homosexuality, some may use this (totally, wildly inappropriate) link homosexuality to pedophilia.

                So my question was: okay, if it’s inappropriate to use that wording, is it inappropriate for me to use ANY expression or sequence of words that expresses the thought of “an attraction to children is not something that he chose to have or that he can change”?

    2. Charles*

      “Moreover, using child pornography may well be a coping mechanism for his very unfortunate condition, much as a gay man in the 50s might have looked at gay porn as a substitute for acting on it”

      !!!!!!WHAT THE FUCKING HELL!!!!!!

      As a gay man I am appalled; but not really surprised by such a stupid comment – Seriously, choose your words more carefully. (I’ll delete the rest of my comment after that because if I don’t I will be BANNED by AAM.)

      1. becky*

        But Charles, 30 years ago, that is what we were taught. That gay guys are pedophiles. Look at the #@!#$ Boy Scouts! They still think that! Untrue entirely, I agree. But, that WAS what kids were taught for a very long time.

        1. Andrea*

          So? Okay, so people were taught that, but they were WRONG. Is this an attempt to justify that? This discussion has taken a very upsetting turn–I cannot believe that so many people don’t seem to understand the problem with describing pedophiles and gay people the same way.

          1. JoAnna*

            They’re not. When you say, “schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are both mental illnesses,” that does not mean, “schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are exactly the same in all respects.” Similarly, if you say, “homosexuality and pedophilia are both inborn sexual attractions,” you’re not saying the ends are the same, the acts are the same, or the inclinations are the same – simply that they are both types of sexual attractions that people may be born with.

            1. Charles*

              (I have a comment above awaiting moderation control similar to what I want to say here)

              But, BUT, why choose same-sex attraction as the anaolgy? Why not choose another? Can you not see how choosing someone being gay to compare to pedophilia would be offensive? When making any anology you run the risk of the two being compared in the same light.

              As far as I am concerned, Gayle who above said “I would never want to associate homosexuality with pedophilia. They are obviously completely different and unrelated things” did, in fact, associate the two in her earlier comment.

              How can anyone think that would be okay?

              If anyone wants to apologize and set the record “straight” (pun intended) and say that it was never intended to compare pedolphilia with being gay I will accept that apology as long as the comparisions between the two stop!

              1. Gayle*

                Look, Charles, no one is saying that pedophilia and homosexuality are the closely related.

                As far as I can tell, there have only been two comments that make an analogy, in any way, between pedophilia and homosexuality. One was from Kimberlee commenting on how it’s unfair that people with non-standard orientations get portrayed as predatory. The other was from me about making an analogy specifically about looking at porn because acting out urges would be illegal. In both of those cases, it would not have made sense to compare it to, say, straight people. (In cases where other analogies have made sense, people have generally used them.)

                In all other cases, it has been people *accusing* us of making analogies and us saying just, “we’re not saying they’re the same; we’re saying that they’re both sexual attractions.” And, really, can you argue with that?

                In some cases, people have asserted that even saying “pedophilia isn’t a choice” is implicitly linking homosexuality. I don’t understand that, but I’d be willing to hear someone out on alternate, less-offensive wording. No one has offered this yet though.

                I think if you look at what we actually said, instead of what people claim we said, you’d find it much less offensive.

        2. Charles*

          Becky, okay so that is what folks were taught. I do not read Gayle’s comment as saying that. She was making an anology of sexual attraction – one being an attraction in which there is a victim and the other which is between consenting adults.

          That is what is so offensive about her comment. Do you and others not see that?

          1. Gayle*

            Some people have been offended merely by my saying that an attraction to children is not something people can control, because people use similar words to describe that gay people cannot control their same-sex attraction. Somehow, using similar words to describe the two is inherently offensive to some.

            I don’t really get this. But, I have asked for suggestions on how to express the general thought of “they didn’t choose this” in a way that’s not offensive. No one has been able to give me this.

            But, more specifically speaking to your point, I don’t understand why it’s offensive in *certain situations* to make an analogy between the two. Making a particular analogy does not mean that you think the two things are equivalent in all ways, or even in most ways. It just means that they have similarities in a specific way (namely, the way in which you’re building the analogy) – which they DO. When I’ve made an analogy it has only been to say that (1) they are both sexual attractions that you cannot choose (2) people might look at porn as a substitute for acting on it. Those are, in fact, ways that the two are similar (nearly as sexual attractions / inclinations / etc are similar in that way).

            1. Baby Boomer*

              I didn’t choose to be heterosexual, but I am. So I suppose you could compare me to a pedophile. And plenty of straight men look at pornography.

              I am really surprised that you don’t see how insulting your comment is.

              1. Gayle*

                Please read my comments. When I made an analogy, it was to say:

                (1) [in response to someone objecting to someone else’s analogy:] “But it IS similar in the sense that it’s an orientation that someone didn’t choose to have.”
                This was not my analogy. Rather, I was explaining someone else’s.

                (2) [responding to someone else] “I never said that homosexuality and pedophilia anywhere near the same thing. I only said that they shared similarities in that they are both sexual attractions.”
                Again, not my analogy. This was an extension of the issue from #1.

                (3) “Moreover, using child pornography may well be a coping mechanism for his very unfortunate condition, much as a gay man in the 50s might have looked at gay porn as a substitute for acting on it.”
                So here I did built some relationship (in a way) between the two. But substituting gay for straight wouldn’t have really made sense here because straight men could act on their desires.

                (4) “People don’t choose what they’re attracted to – gay people, straight people, pedophiles, people attracted to incest, etc. They can choose to act, but they don’t choose to have it.”
                So, here, I did built an analogy between pedophiles and straight people.

                An analogy does not mean that you think the two things are very similar. It just means that you think they have a similarity as far as the specific analogy is concerned. Which they do.

                If someone says, “Those who experience tragic circumstances, such as being rape or losing a parent, may withdraw from their friends,” are they saying that being raped is like losing a parent? No, of course not. They’re saying that being raped and losing a parent exhibit *a* similarity.

                To the extent that people have made an analogy between an attraction to children and an attraction to the same / opposite sex, it’s only to express that both are sexual attractions that you don’t choose. To state that simple fact does not, in any way, imply that you think the two are similar in other ways.

              2. Ellie H.*

                I agree with the spirit of Gayle’s intentions but I think that appearing to make a comparison between sexual attraction to children and homosexuality is so problematic that it shuts the discussion down and makes it much less, not more, likely that anyone will read what you have to say. I personally think the comparison to homosexuality or any other sexual orientation when discussing sexual attraction to children is in some ways relevant, in most ways flawed, but in general it is so problematic that I think it’s to be avoided at all costs.

                These are hard subjects to discuss because they produce such strong emotions in people. I study the Holocaust and you see the same problem in that field, where you have to avoid certain rhetorical references that might make perfect sense to you, because they arouse so much emotion in people that there is no way anyone will see your past an unfortunate word choice or inadvertent allusion to your actual argument.

            2. Alex*

              Gayle – I agree with you. People are attracted to all types of things that are difficult or that they wish they weren’t attracted to. Some people are attracted to animals (which actually might be a better analogy because like children, animals cannot consent to sex with a person, which is why bestiality is illegal). Some people are attracted to inanimate objects (seriously). Some people are attracted to things that don’t actually exist, like centaurs or vampires or the blue people from Pandora. Whatever. Sexuality is super complicated and, regrettably, you can’t control who you are attracted to and who you are not. It’s not a choice. You CAN control and choose how you act on those attractions. I feel sympathy for people who are attracted to other beings with whom they can never (or should never) have relationships. It’s a crappy hand to be dealt.

              I feel torn on this particular situation. He wasn’t able to control his attraction completely, hence his record, and his co-workers have a right to know. The government agrees, which is why the sex offender registry exists. But I also feel people who have paid their debts to society should be able to find jobs (and if not in an office full of adults, away from children, then where?) and housing and be able to live out their lives somewhere. Society needs to find a better way to deal these people, particularly the ones who don’t actually want to victimize anyone and wrestle with their demons every day.

              1. Holly*

                I disagree. I don’t think his coworkers “have a right to know.” I don’t think the sex offender registry should exist.

                Why is there not a murderers registry, or an arsonists registry?

          2. Anonymous*

            Gotta agree. I’ve read through this all and I get what Gayle is saying. It is important to note, too, that homosexuality was actually considered a mental illness by doctors up until relatively recently.

            I get the point by Gayle, though – that ppl cannot control what they crave. Ask a pregnant woman to stop craving something… yah, that won’t happen. Some ppl crave sex with dogs or cars (does anyone watch that crazy show on TLC – the guy was making out with his car lol) – that is the point Gayle was making… ppl cannot help who they are attracted to.

            In the last century alone – it was punishable by death for two ppl of different races to have sex or even socialize. And a couple centuries ago – a female was a woman around age 10 or 12… and that was legal.

            This issue is relative – the circumstances would change my opinion. It is one thing to actually sexually abuse an infant and another thing to drool over a picture of a 16 year old girl dressed like a 25 year old hooker…. just sayin’.

            1. Ellie H.*

              I think it’s in some ways a comparison of degree. Some people have aberrant attractions (attractions they are not able to fulfill in a healthy or non-harmful way e.g. to animals or children) and some people have normal attractions (to consenting adults of either gender). There are also people who are attracted to the idea of adults doing harmful or humiliating or non-consensual things, which is also sometimes not able to be fulfilled in a healthy way. My impression is that most research shows that it’s very difficult if not impossible for people to totally remove (via therapy, hypnosis, medication, self-control, whatever) their inherent sexual predilections, but that it is in every case technically possible for someone to refrain from acting on his or her attractions when this would harm others. Like Dan Savage has said, this does involve a lot of willpower and I think it really is commendable for someone to refrain from acting on a strong attraction that will harm others, for moral reasons.

              One final point, I think the comparison between sexual practices that used to be illegal/seen as mentally ill (e.g. homosexuality, interracial marriage) is totally irrelevant and moot because there is a huge chasm between relationships between consenting adults, and victimization of someone who can’t or didn’t consent.

  22. LB*

    Hmmm…I completely agree with AAM. I work in a very large corporation with LOADS of entry level employees. All types with all backgrounds are employed here.

    This is the main question you have to decide:

    What if I do tell them and they do (seemingly) nothing? Will I be okay with that?

    Because if you do bring this up and HR seemingly does nothing then what are you going to do?
    Will you be willing to quit,
    Will you tell coworkers, which will then most assuredly cause some type of discrimination will probably escalate and create a lawsuit that would then benefit HIM (seen it happen, way to go!),
    Will you choose to ruin someone’s reputation when you really only know very little about the situation (seen it happen)?
    Will you be willing to risk your and your safety since you know so little about him (seen it happen!)?

    Better decide what safety really means to yourself.
    IMHO, the guy’s a creep, stay far away from the entire situation.

  23. The OP*

    First of all I would like I thank everyone for commenting and helping me with this difficult situation. My co-worker did, in fact, pay for the images (it’s how he got busted). He was found with hundreds of them on his personal laptop and also accessed such files at his previous place of employment using state-owned computers. Thanks to AAM’s link, I’ve found that my state is one on the list that cannot discriminate against him for his conviction since our job does not deal with children in any way.

      1. Another Anonymous*

        Please, please don’t do that. IMHO, telling other coworkers in this situation is the proverbial “line.” Talk to HR or your manager if you feel this may cause danger to anyone at your job. Let them reassure you that the necessary measures have been taken to keep all staff and visitors safe, but do NOT out him to coworkers. It’s disruptive and inappropriate.

        1. ThatHRGirl*

          Agreed. Please don’t. If you’re in a state where the law prohibits the employer from discriminating against him in any way because of his past, you may be guilty of harassment for spreading the word and “warning” people. Making HR aware and spreading the info to the entire office are COMPLETELY different things.

          1. Joey*

            Exactly how? Assuming that all they’re discussing is fact and publicly available information I don’t see how any type of retaliation or discrimination claim can survive unless someone goes off the deep end and does something stupid . But is it ethical to tell your co workers? That’s a harder question.

            1. ThatHRGirl*

              Can it survive? Probably not. But is it something productive for a company to go through and spend time dealing with? No…
              Yes it is publicly available information, but does thisgive license for other people to search the internet and “out” people for other things that are “public knowledge” like so-and-so’s DUI arrest, messy divorce, forclosure/bankruptcy, etc… embarassing things that many people have in their past that a quick search of the internet could bring up.

            2. Anonymous*

              “…unless someone goes off the deep end and does something stupid …”

              Have you read anything in this thread? It seems that at least half the commenters want him run out of town.

              I would bet good money that multiple someones will go off the deep end and do something stupid. Guaranteed.

    1. Anonymous*

      I guess this answers the question about impulse control in this case.

      IMO forget HR and find some way to give IT a heads up. Heck if tptb know already they should have done this themselves, professional courtesy to the head of IT to look out for risk.

      The state may require a company to disregard the past – but while it pales in comparison to the damage to the victims – he did this at work before so it creates a real risk to the network and liability for the company. If he’s not up to anything anymore he has nothing to worry about.

      1. Jamie*

        I don’t know why it posted as anonymous when I replied through the reader. Stupid Mac for iPad apps.

    2. Anonymous*

      If I were in your shoes and needed to reconcile my set of ethics with my desire to protect children, as a non-parent, I would quietly, anonymously, let the parents in the office know. Let them decide if they will ever feel comfortable bringing their kids into the office, even for a few minutes, or for take-your-child-to-work day, or ever. Let them be the ones who decide how to handle it when the coworker looks too long at the pictures of their children on their desks. If I had a risk factor of more than zero for ever bringing a child into the office, I’d want to know, no matter how I was told.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Unfortunately, the reality of any workplace is that there is a more than zero risk of bringing your child to the office – or anywhere else. The world is not risk-free. The previously-arrested pedophile is actually probably less of a risk than the person who has never been caught.

        1. Anonymous*

          This! I wish everyone would just relax a little bit and be realistic about how much of a risk this guy really is.

      2. Kimberlee*

        I do want to say that if indeed OP decides to tell other people, please please PLEASE don’t say who the person is. If you must, say that there IS a registered sex offender in the office (and people can look it up if they want, it’s public information), and leave it at that. Probably the same result (the person being rode out of the office on a rail, unfortunately), but at least you’ll be doing SOMETHING to protect this guy’s anonymity.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, this has the potential to become villagers with torches. And, statistically speaking, some of those villagers will have been abusing an intimate partner, stealing, or beating their kid, but there’s nothing like a group target to make everybody else suddenly seem possessed of the moral high ground.

          And honestly, that’s also why I think this isn’t the OP’s task in the first place. If it’s a workplace issue, then it’s HR’s job to handle it. (Hoping for a competent HR here.) Knowledge alone doesn’t put you in charge on this one.

    3. Charles*

      Where did you get the details? Are they from a “reliable source” such as court records? Or are you going by the newspaper article?

      If the latter, be wary of how accurate it is. I’m not saying that the newspaper would say that he is a “sex offender” when he isn’t; but the details, such as paid for the images, etc. could, in fact, be wrong. Local newspapers are notorious for getting such details wrong (few folks check the “fact-checkers” unless it is major national or international news). I once served on a jury and it was amazing how many details about the case the newspaper simply got backwards!

      (Also, we just had a police shooting nearby and the news reports are stating contradictory facts – the cop was off duty; the cop was on duty, but serving as security at the mall; the cop was in plain clothes; the cop was in his township uniform; the cop was in a mall security uniform – get the facts news reporters then tell us!)

      If you want to mention it at work; be professional about it – bring it to HR’s attention in a non-dramatic way (some have mentioned this above) – but don’t go around the office “gossiping” about it. You might, afterall, not have all the facts yourself.

      P.S.; this is one problem that I have with such “Megan’s laws.” they often label folks in such a way that we all think the worst-case scenario when it could be something less. These laws also give a false sense of security – there are many sex offenders/violent folks who have just never been caught (yet).

  24. Sean*

    I don’t condone pedophilia, and believe those who act on it should be punished. However, I do have to admit I think he should not be fired simply because of what Alison said, regarding being assimilated into society. However, my concern that stood out to me is him using his middle name instead of first and I can’t help but wonder if he used this on his application. If that’s the case, well, a criminal check might not reveal anything…plus then he’s lying potentially to the company…it’s just a rather large mess if you ask me. I’m not sure I can give good advice…but I can at least say don’t say anything for now…

    1. Anon.*

      While I don’t want to disregard your concerns, his name “change” could be a simple case of misunderstanding. It’s quite possible that he was going by his middle name his entire life, but the second he was picked up for possessing child porn his legal name was what was spewed all over the media. He might have always been Edward, and continued to use that name after his conviction, but this coworker found out that Douglas Edward was the one who was convicted and now thinks it’s skeevy that he’s “hiding” his first name…

  25. 2nd time around*

    I think that the OP should keep this information to herself. There seems to be too many unknowns to make a well-informed decision about this man. I AM NOT defending what he did in the past and the OP does not know his side of the story. Before she learned this information had he done anything to arouse any kind of suspicion? OP stated that the article said he was on probation. His probation could include therapy and other requirements.
    On the other hand, HR may already know and has checks in place to see that he is not violating his probation.

  26. R*

    I want to point out here that the writer did describe the coworker as a “very friendly and polite older gentlemen.” Not a creepy, slimy character that gives her chills as they walk by. It doesn’t hurt her to be on her guard, but if he is not creeping out everybody else in the workplace, I say leave him alone. I haven’t had much interaction with sex offenders, but there have been people that I get a creepy feelings about in life and I just decide to trust my gut.

    That being said, my first thought was, “If she were to confront her co-worker about this situation, what would be his side of the story?” Of which I don’t think at all that she should do that, but very rarely are sex-offenders “just born.” I wouldn’t doubt he probably went through some abuse as a child or deals with some psychological issues, or struggles with a super dysfunctional family which gives him no support.

    I’m not trying to say we should all have pity and forget the fact that children can be at risk, but if he’s a polite older gentleman that is not causing you or anybody else harm for right now, then let him try to live his life best he can until he does something that you think warrants speaking up.

    1. Holly*

      Thank you, R! You are the first person in this entire thread of comments to actually suggest that OP ask the man HIMSELF. I would advise, OP – if you’re so concerned about your safety – to send him an email asking him to get coffee outside of work, and then ask him all the questions you have first-hand, rather than taking the cowardly route, assuming the worst with no facts, and essentially just being a gossip.

  27. Anonymous*

    This is such a difficult situation. If I were a manager, I would want to know about this person’s background because of the nature of the downloads he made at a former workplace. If he hadn’t downloaded at work, his background would be of interest, but not as important.

    My perspective is complicated by past experience. My husband and I bought a house in what seemed like a family-oriented neighborhood, then found out from nearby parents that we were were only a few houses down the street from a convicted child molester. This was before home computers were common. I always felt we had to be vigilant and we were, but investigation did turn up the fact that the victims may well have been family members. We never got to know the family and the elderly molestor made no overtures toward us or our children.

    Then later, a distant relative got convicted of using child porn. For one image (they could find evidence he’d viewed many thumbnails but no other confirmed downloads). His life was ruined and he still isn’t working. Basically, he liked looking at pictures that were of teenage girls who resembled his wife as she was when they’d first started dating in high school and she didn’t have a mature figure.

    From what I’ve been able to learn, he had no desire to buy porn or to recreate his fantasies with a live person. He seemed to be a good parent and a good employee, but now he can’t find work, and being put in jail really freaked him out. Some family members questioned whether he should be allowed to attend a family funeral a couple of years later, an they complained to his brother-in-law’s widow about it.

    Every case is different, and evaluating the risk is tough, but I don’t agree with the unforgiving absolutists. I want to pause and do for the other person what I would want done for me if I failed to live up to my own standards for behavior. That means treating the person who is a sex offender because he dated a girl who was too young when he was a teen but didn’t date underage girls when he was older differently than the person who views child porn and treating that person differently than the person who has assaulted a child because they find it sexually compelling.

    Yes, buying porn contributes to exploitation. But there are better ways to battle that exploitation than condemning every person who only looks and doesn’t act. Allowing for rehabilitation is important. Monitoring the computer use of someone who has a history of using work computers for their illegal behavior is appropriate. Making that person a pariah where people want to spit on him in the office hallway, not so much.

    Finally, I’d like to note that in our office recently we were discussing a recent rash of cases involving embezzlement in our region. In every case, the perpetrator seemed to be a nice woman with kids at home. These women stole from organizations, from elderly relatives, from nonprofits where they volunteered, and from their employers, so it was quite a range. And they’ve been convicted. Apparently several spent the money on their families.

    For those of us who are parents, who among us would like to be stereotyped as likely thieves just because we were moms?

  28. Anonymous*

    You don’t know the details about his situation, so you should stay out of it. Even if he admitted his guilt, you can’t be certain.

    My cousin is gay. He was downloading porn from the internet one day, and one of the videos was child pornography. He was horrified, closed the video, never looked at it again, and forgot about it…

    Until a few months later the police showed up at his door step, because they were doing a child porn sting in the area. They only found that one video, but that was enough.

    He’s sitting in federal prison now, and he’s 20 years old. His life is probably over, he’ll have to register as a sex offender, and because of the crazy laws that we have nowadays that prevent sex offenders from living near children, and because so many people have the attitudes towards them that people on this thread do, I wonder if he’ll ever be able to find a decent job.

    He’s a kid that made an honest, innocent mistake- who knows how many other “child offenders” are in the same boat?

    There’s no excuse for true child molesters, but if they have paid their time and are being monitored, then it’s none of your business.

    1. Anonymous*

      That’s terrible. But in this case he downloaded hundreds of files he paid for. He knew what he was doing. OP explains it upthread.

    2. Ellie H.*

      That’s so terrible. I’m really sorry especially for your cousin, but your whole family too. That’s such an unimaginably awful situation.

    3. Anonymous*

      He either had terrible counsel, or there’s more to the story. I tend to think there’s a lot more to the story.

        1. Anonymous*

          It’s extraordinarily unusual to be convicted for something like this. The federal statute explicitly makes an exception for a one-time, “oops” download like this. If this was the only child pornography on his computer, it really belies belief that he would go to federal prison for it.

          Couple this with the fact that most everyone who’s been convicted of downloading child pornography will tell you a tale like this… as most criminals do… I’m sorry, but not buying it.

          Reading the comments here, you’d come away with the impression that everyone convicted of a child sex-related crime was merely peeing in public, having sex with their similarly-aged girlfriend, or just downloaded the wrong file. That’s just not reality! Denial affects family and loved ones, too.

          1. Anonymous*

            I have worked in the fight against child porn for years and I have never heard of someone downloading child porn by accident, though many claim it. The producers of this stuff don’t just shove it BitTorrent. For one thing they don’t give it away free, and for another they have the most complex hoops you can imagine to make sure only legit customers jump through and not investigators. Not to mention most child porn is heavily encrypted nowadays so you need both the actual file and the decryption to even be able to tell what it is.

            I actually have do huge sympathy for people who are put on the sex offender register wrongly (like teenage boys who sleep with their slightly younger girlfriends, and especially cases like those underage girls who were threatened with it for taking pics of themselves) and have protested against some of these things. Absolutely people get put on who shouldn’t be. But this isn’t the case with 99% of child porn possession convictions.

  29. Michael C.*

    Don’t bring kids to work; take whatever precaution you feel necessary is what I’d say.

    Honestly, to the people (likely parents) flipping out about this; you’re basing off a ton of assumptions and likely don’t (and would not give a chance to) know the entirety of his/her past situation.

    It’s not like he’s currently doing anything illegal by working. A judge has clearly deemed that person able to function in a work environment. S/he is just working, and unless he’s your babysitter, it’s not really anyone’s business. Not saying “give him a chance” or anything you feel uncomfortable doing, I’m saying “just do your work”.

      1. Michael C.*

        Like I said, take whatever precaution you need within what the law allows. If you are so against working with someone with a shady history, you are free to find work elsewhere.

  30. Anonymous*

    I’d like to point out that as a registered sex offender, he is most likely prohibited from going near places that children gather. So if the company has a “family” picnic, he will make some excuse and make sure he’s not there.

    Also, I sincerely hope that every parent on here who has been freaking out over this has done a search for sex offenders in their neighborhoods. Because they live everywhere, and I would be much more concerned about the guy 2 streets over from where my child lives and plays on a daily basis than some guy who works in my office where my child goes a couple of times a year.

    And those same parents should now go perform an internet search for potential sex offenders on every person who works in their offices. If you’re going to advocate the OP telling HR, and *especially* if you’re going to advocate the OP telling all the parents in her office (discreetly), you should be making sure you start your own witch hunts.

    I’m not trying to be glib or snarky (even if it’s coming across that way). I know it’s a touchy subject, and I am *certainly* not defending child molesters, but my first instinct at reading a bunch of these comments was, “Wow, these people are over-reacting.” The best way to protect your children from predators is to teach them what to do if they are approached, instead of using that energy to freak about what or who might be around the corner.

  31. Anonymous*

    Granted that taking some sort of adverse action might not be “fair” to this co-worker. However, it is not your job to be fair to him. It is your job to protect other people at your office with whom he comes into contact.

    There isn’t anything you can do about what will happen if he gets fired. You can only do what you can do. Which is inform your HR. And, if they don’t do anything, you should inform staff.

    If one of your co-workers found out, wouldn’t you want to know so that you could act accordingly? It is a shitty answer I know, but it is not a situation which you made. He chose to engage in these acts, and they have consequences.

      1. The OP*

        While I agree with you, fposte, I would feel horrible if something happened to any of my co-worker’s children involving him. I wish that I had never done the search and found out this information. My peace-of-mind would be much greater had I never had the misfortune of seeing this information. Now that I know it, I can’t just forget it… not when it involves people I care about.

        1. Gayle*


          I would really suggest that you read a post called “Gold Star Pedophiles” on February 4, 2010 on Dan Savage’s Savage Love column.

          Getting some understanding of what might make someone do this may help you to come to peace with this.

          It may also help to realize that (1) an attraction to children is not something people chose or that people can unchoose and (2) there is no reason to believe that he has ever molested children or that he doesn’t understand that doing so is very very wrong.

          Just as a guy who watches porn (which “paying people to have sex”) may also think hiring a prostitute (“paying people to have sex”) is wrong, your coworker likely believes that actual acting on his desires would be very very wrong.

          1. fposte*

            The Savage post is great, but it’s about that guy, not about this guy. I think it’s good to be aware of the possibilities in all directions, but I think it’s a mistake to assume that one characterization (would never) is any truer than another (must always) without actually knowing the guy.

        2. fposte*

          I’m not saying you can’t make a choice based on that feeling. But you don’t have any more moral obligation to the other people than you do to this person–it’s not your job to take care of anybody in the picture but yourself. (I mean, I’d also feel bad if I pointed him out to coworkers and somebody then beat him senseless, too.)

          Honestly, I think you should find somebody there to process this with in the kind of depth we can’t do here. An EAP might be even better than HR, since HR isn’t therapeutic–does your office have one?

  32. tired of people commenting on things they think they read in an OP post.*

    Upthread someone said that the person in question downloaded the porn at work. ..

    That is NOT what the OP said.. the man lost his job because of it- he didn’t DO IT at work.

    This kind of thing bugs the hell out of me because then the domino effect is that people start commenting on the inaccuracy as FACT.

    Folks, it’s bad enough when this happens in a non-contreversial subject but when its an emotionally charged issue like this one, especially, please make sure you comment on what the OP actually says, not what you think they said.

    1. Andrea*

      Seems like someone needs to read the updates from the OP (upthread) where she clearly states that the man did, in fact, download child porn at his previous place of employment. I don’t know where she got that information or if it is accurate, but that’s what she posted in an update. Next time, read through all the comments again before “scolding” other commenters, mmkay? If several people comment on something that you didn’t see, it’s probably not because they just all made it up—it’s probably you who missed something.

      (I understand your confusion, though–these ongoing discussions are difficult to keep up with and I wish there was a way to differentiate the new comments from the ones I’d read already–I always end up having to skim through all of them multiple times, which is inefficient. I know I can sign up to be notified of follow-up comments, but I don’t want to get a ton of emails, which is how I assume those notifications are delivered.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, you’d get individual emails, which on a post with tons of comments like this can be unwieldy. However, if you use an RSS reader, you can also subscribe to the comments feed. (And actually, if you want to just look at the comments feed without using an RSS reader, you can always find it here: feed:// )

  33. YALM*

    The guy was popped for child porn. Thousands of hardcore pics of 13 year olds, or a pic of his granddaughter getting her first bath? Was he ever popped for any charge involving contact with a minor? We don’t know the answers to these questions? But OP and a whole group of commentors want to fry this guy anyway.

    OP works for a large company; chances are HR knew when the guy was hired. Yikes, people, let the man do his work.

  34. Anonymous*

    How are you supposed to just take that one in stride? Child porn is just not OK! You can’t ‘cure’ someone of their attraction to children, it’s only a matter of time until this individual does it again. People like that need to be locked up and not released back into society because they are NOT normal people! This country is so messed up.

    1. JT*

      I think that when the idea of locking up seriously troubled/troublesome people forever is viewed as a good solution, then yes, this country is so messed up.

  35. The OP*

    Quite obviously, this whole situation freaks me out. Facts are that he was found with over three hundred files on his personal laptop that he paid for. His work computer was also found to have downloaded images of child porn on them (not sure if he paid for these ones or not). He was put on leave without pay at his previous job, found guilty in a court of law (he also admitted he was guilty), was fired, put on probation, and now works at my company where we have no contact with children except for next month’s “Bring Your Children to Work” day. We also have a club at work that puts on various activities every month that employees can attend. These events are all family oriented. I hope that he doesn’t participate (he’s not married and has no children, so I highly doubt he would attend, but that remains to be seen).

    1. fposte*

      I totally get that it freaks you out. In general, I think we’re better off not knowing the secrets and past of our workmates, and this is a big one. One reason why I’m encouraging a chat with HR is that this kind of thing is rough to carry alone.

      I also think it’s worth your thinking a little about what aspects are really troubling you. Is it the perception of current risk? Is it a moral objection to his past regardless of his present possibilities? Is it what questions that raises for you about your other co-workers and a lack of confidence in your workplace? Regardless of our general debate, you’re the one who has to decide how to handle this situation come Monday morning, and if you can figure out more specifically what your concerns are that may help you find ways to address them.

    2. Joey*

      Ithink you could reasonably approach HR in private by stating your concern about this guy with the approaching bring your child to work day. But you can reasonably expect they’ll already know about it.

  36. A Second Heather*

    If you think of pedophilia as an addiction, which it is, and you put yourself into this man’s shoes, this is what I would say: The OP has saids that this man’s behaviour is friendly and he has not in any way acted suspiciously up to this point. In that vein I agree with AAM that it is none of the OP’s business at this point. Just like an alcoholic (and I am obviously not saying that child porn addiction is the same thing as alcoholism but that these are both addictive behaviours) if you were trying to rehabilitate and had already been arrested for the consequences of indulging in your addiction (getting into a drink driving accident for instance) you would be actively avoiding scenarios where there is drinking involved. Similarly, until this guy starts showing up at company picnics and approaching people’s kids, I would assume that he is making an honest effort to get his life back on track. Let’s give him some credit for being gainfully employed and the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. This might be a bit of a Pollyanna perspective, however the world can use a but more Pollyanna in my opinion.

  37. A Second Heather*

    correction: I re-read the post above mine after posting my comment. It seems there are no company picnics with kids so my comment would speak to his behaviour on Take Your Kids to Work Day. Sorry for not reading throughly. There are just so many comments on this post understandably.

  38. anon*

    I think the solution here is to speak to your manager about child protection at work, in a general sense. I’m not willing to be Joe Paterno so I would have to find out if higher ups knew before letting it go.

    1. A Second Heather*

      Then when they ask “Why are you asking about this?” do you then throw this guy under a bus? Bottomline: It isn’t the OP’s business at this point. At least wait until a red flag has been raised to take action. Otherwise, it is completely unjustified. Plus if they already do know it could backfire and make the OP look like an employee who gets involved in other people’s business.

  39. A Second Heather*

    Because if management already knows then they are already monitoring the situation.

  40. Jess*

    Leave the guy alone. He is an adult, around adults, doing his job to make a living. Registered sex offenders are required to tell their employers (or atleast that’s how it used to be) and I don’t know where OP got her info of why he is on that list, but it doesn’t tell you why publicly. It will give a vague reason why that is not meant to be understood. My boyfriend is a sex offender because when he was 18, his girlfriend was 16 and her mother found condoms and pressed charges against him, once they were forced to admit they were sexually active. (Crazy right?) My old roommate is a registered sex offender because out and about, in the backseat, she was wasted and had to urinate. We pulled the jeep over and she jumped behind some bushes near the woods and went. Unfortunately there was a cop near by who saw the incident, and arrested her for “indecent exposure” – we laugh about those crazy summer nights now, (college) but seriously- on her registered explanation it says she exposed herself to families.(There’s a big word for it, forget it right now though) Um hi? 2am pee behind a bush, somehow is that? So whatever you read, who knows. Also, why do you care? I’m not excusing what he has done or whatever but people do a lot of messed up things that no one ever knows. I’m a well known and quiet person in my place of work. Would you judge me if you knew what kind of stuff I did at night, or what clubs I went to? Work is work. Let this guy try an succeed. If you are so worri
    ed then I suggest talking to him. Chances are its no big secret for him prior to this job, but maybe he wants a second chance. You don’t work with kids, who brings their kids into the office anymore? I’d say FOR SURE if you worked with or involving children but you don’t. Get involved in something to get your mind off of what you think is any of your concern

      1. Jess*

        Its my downfall on the black berry! And I’m a very blunt person. I realize I don’t have all the details but just wanted to comment, with the overall message, its not OPs business. :)

  41. Jess*

    Just a side note, this is pornography he watched. We don’t know that he acted on it, or how much he had, and if you looked at any porn I’ve skimmed over, out of sheer curiosity (not child porn) you’d probably be thinking “what the…” But it could have been a curiosity for him. I’m trying to make the point it may have been a curiosity and he is no threat to the OP, presumably. ?

    1. A Second Heather*

      The OP stated earlier: “He was found with hundreds of them on his personal laptop and also accessed such files at his previous place of employment using state-owned computers.”
      Given the amount of porn taken off his laptop and the fact that he admitted to it, it would seem like more than sexual curiosity. I could buy that if it was one picture or two but not hundreds of paid for images. Setting aside how dumb this guy is for doing this at work, it’s also seems pretty obvious there is a very serious addiction here.

      1. Jess*

        I did read about the tons of photos after my msg, but it wasn’t OP’s that I saw added, I missed it, sorry. Yes I agree. Well this might sound bad too, but if he did do all that at work and has paid for his mistakes….what makes him likely to do it at work again? I hope he doesn’t do it at all, but at work would be stupid. So hopefully that relaxes the OP. Such an emotional topic for everyone. Thanks for seeing through my rambling!

        1. A Second Heather*

          It’s OK, I just thought I’d mention it. It’s really easy to miss information with this many responses.

  42. Anonymous*

    As I read through the comments, I wonder how many individuals have been victims of child molestation such as myself. I come from a nasty family with many dark secrets which include not one but two child molesting uncles. I found myself a victim at the age of five. I think the act is completely repulsive and it makes me very angry. However, I don’t think a witch hunt is the answer. You all mention protecting your children? IMO, here is how you do it… you talk to your children, educate them, teach them what they need to know to protect themselves. More than anything, teach them what is right and what is wrong. Bringing them up in a sheltered world with a false hope that nothing can harm them is not the answer. I learned that the hard way and no matter the sheltered life my parents strived for, I was a victim of sexual abuse for far too long. Because one day, your babies will grow up and go out to the big bad world on their own. It could even be a harmless church camp. Outing this man does absolutely nothing to stop child molestation or any other sexual abuse. I strongly believe teaching our children is the only answer. I may have suffered as a child, but if my parents took the right steps to teach me, I may not have been a victim for all those years. I may have learned at an early age to be the strong survivor I am now.

    To the OP, I really feel for you. We cannot unlearn things and you will never be able to look at him the same again. Someone posted earlier about finding what really disturbs you most about and act accordingly. You cannot protect every one else’s child. You cannot teach them what the need to know. Informing them will not change the way they raise their children. No one can tell you what to do about this and if you do decide to tell, you could also take ownership in telling them ways to cope with this info and the best way to protect their children.

    Sorry for the anon post. I usually include my name but I’m not so sure I’m ready for all the world to hear my story. I hope I don’t come across as harsh. It’s just a very difficult topic.

    1. A Second Heather*

      I really admire your courage in posting this. I guess the distinction that decided my view on this was that as other people here have said, looking at child porn is one serious problem but that actually molesting children is in a whole other category of seriousness and crime. This guy was convicted of having child porn on his computer. Had he actually been accused or convicted of molesting children, that would be a different story.

      1. A Second Heather*

        If that were the case in the OP’s position i would definitely be making sure my company’s HR knew about it. It seems highly doubtful though that this person would be hired with no one ever finding out or with no background check. I suppose it does happen though.

      2. Anonymous*

        I do understand there is a difference. But the tone of the thread has gone from should HR know and how does the OP protect her coworkers children during company events. Some people believe there is a difference between acting and looking and others do not. Regardless if there is a difference or not, this conversation has moved towards protecting the coworkers children. Whether he has acted or not doesn’t really matter. People are going to be inherently worried about children and this thread proves that.

        1. A Second Heather*

          There have also been a large number of posters AAM included who have said that although the OP is understandably in a very difficult position having this informations, at this point it is not their repsonsibility to do anything with that information. That has also come through in this thread. This is understandably a very emotional topic and I totally get both perspectives personally.

          1. A Second Heather*

            The OP also said earlier that they have never seen children around the office except on Take Your Kids to Work Day.

          2. Anonymous*

            I think you are misunderstanding what I am saying. And to be honest, I don’t quite understand the point you are trying to make. I don’t think the OP should act on it and inform her coworkers like others have suggested. But the OP has also mentioned she hopes he doesn’t come to the family company events and what if something were to happen to her coworkers children. I am only trying to give my perspective as it is one (unfortunately) I am all too familiar with. Spreading the word doesn’t stop anything.

            Now, to all the afraid parents in this thread. I strongly believe educating children and communicating to them is the most important thing.

            1. A Second Heather*

              “But the tone of the thread has gone from should HR know and how does the OP protect her coworkers children during company events.” I was just pointing out that that hasn’t necessarily been the dominant point of view. Also the information that the OP said there are never kids around the office except on Take Your Kids to Work day was to point out the lack of threat present at work with this individual. I agree with you that educating your kids is the best place to focus.

        2. fposte*

          Even if that were true, that doesn’t make any particular action a mandate. This isn’t a referendum.

          I think the OP is facing a local incarnation of a broader human truth: you can’t protect people the way you want to. So I’m starting to look at this question not as “What do you do about a registered sex offender in the workplace?” but as “How do I deal with a concern about risk that’s not ignorable in the way it used to be?” I mean, the OP presumably also found sex offenders living in her neighborhood and the neighborhoods of those she works with; odds are at least one of those is closer to a workmate than this work colleague is. He’s not more of a threat to people just because he’s the one she’s met, and she’s not more responsible for his actions than for any of the other people she saw named on the register.

          I’m not meaning this to argue that nobody should ever do anything, but I’m seeing this question as being a correlation to Joey’s excellent point a few posts back about having to make decisions without having enough information. This is precisely the wrong amount of information. It’s enough to make this more pressing to the OP than the other names she saw listed, despite the fact that there’s no reason for this person to pose a greater risk to humanity than the others, but not enough to give her an idea of what this person actually thinks. It’s a hard place to make your peace with.

    2. Anonymous*

      This is a fantastic post, and thank you for sharing. You sound like an extremely brave and well-adjusted person and a true survivor. Please stay strong.

  43. Anonymouse*

    I think it would be reasonable to let HR know that you found-out this information, and you would appreciate it if arrangements could be made that this person would absent himself from any family-oriented company event (i.e. company picnic/take your child to work day).

    Other than that, I can’t think of a way in which you could reasonably make this your business.

  44. Elizabeth West*

    Okay, I have to say this. Child porn is illegal because it victimizes children. I’ve seen this horrific stuff firsthand at a police class (I have a degree in Criminology) and there is NO WAY you’ll ever convince me that it is a victimless crime. It defines and objectifies children as sexual objects.

    That said, I don’t think the OP should say anything. The likelihood of anyone in the office being victimized is low, but the disruption that could occur if she starts blabbing it could possibly get her fired.

    If she is still concerned, she can do what I did when I discovered a neighbor (now deceased) was a convicted sex offender. She can call the agency responsible for maintaining the list and discuss her concerns with them. Likely they will tell her the same thing AAM and Evil Hr Lady are saying: that he is being supervised and the danger to her children is minimal in the office.

    If you’re worried that your children/grandchildren etc. will be exposed to a predator, keep them safe by teaching them that they have a right to privacy with their bodies and how to say no when people are asking them to keep secrets or do things that make them uncomfortable. Most children who are kidnapped are taken by non-custodial parents, but it does happen. Education and personal safety awareness are much more effective than panicking or freaking out.

    Here is a resource for actions you can take to teach personal safety to kids from little ones to teens.

    1. Gayle*

      I don’t think anyone has said that child porn is a victimless crime. But it’s also not really the same thing as molesting children yourself (just as watching [adult] porn is not the same thing as hiring a prostitute). That’s all people have been saying.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I disagree. If you’re talking about innocent catalog pictures from a Walmart flyer that an offender finds erotic, then the pictures themselves are not the problem. But real child porn is adults doing s3xual things with children. I know this because I have seen it. It is DISGUSTING.

  45. Amy*

    Wow the comments are unbelievable. Many bring up very valid points, however I feel as if everyone has jumped to conclusions based more on emotions than logical thought.

    I think that in this day and age it is very likely the employer knows about this employee’s past. I also think that in this day and age it is possible that the writer of the letter may work with other people who have been convicted of other crimes.

    Considering the nature of their employment does not involve working with or around children as a primary function of the job (someone bringing kids to work is not a normal job function) the past conviction is irrelevant to the man’s job.

    No one really knows what the charge(s) this man has are really about – whether the porn was of a small child or a 17 year old (ever since I was a teen, most teens did whatever they could to “fake” being of legal age).

    I don’t think that this is relevant to the work environment, office or job duties. If someone were to go crying to HR about this then it may likely reflect back on them as not being able to work with others.

    If you don’t like working with someone who has a criminal history, then perhaps consider a new job or starting your own business where you can hire by your own rules (watch out for discrimination).

    There are too many variables not known & it is also not our job to judge. We are knee-jerk reacting to someone based on a label and past crime (which we do not know the facts of). This reaction to want rid of the guy is normal, however to stop at that level of thought and not look at the big picture sells our intellects short and keeps us holding onto ignorant opinions that only foster difference, anger and hate. If life were black and white perhaps it would be simpler, but that is not the case. Not everyone who views pornography does so for the same reason, with the same intent or as part of criminal activity or mental illness. Not everyone who views pornography moves onto sex crimes. This goes for both child and adult pornography and crimes.

    Ironically, for everyone out there saying “hang ’em”/”once an offender, always an offender”, there is likely something in your past that someone else is saying “hang ’em” for as well.

    On another note, if we don’t like our laws and legal systems then get out and vote and get involved in changing it!

    1. A Second Heather*

      Amy, not everyone has jumped to emotional conclusions. Read some of the comments again.

    2. Holly*

      Amy, I think your comment is one of the sanest and most reasonable in this entire thread. You’re the first person to point out that the legal definition of “child porn” includes everyone from infants to people the day before their 18th birthday.

      When the legal record says someone was downloading child porn, the common knee-jerk reaction is, “That’s disgusting! Only a subhuman would be sexually attracted to toddlers!” However, the pictures in question may have been fully-developed teenagers.

      In addition to that, there is no age-stamp on pornographic pictures. If it’s too close to call, a cop could very well just call it underaged, and the perp has no power to contradict. The police have 100% power in making that determination, and the more pictures they say they found, the better and more heroic they look.

  46. ThatHRGirl*

    AAM, I’d be very interested to hear Donna Bailman’s take on this as an atty… I have a feeling there could be a legal risk to OP spreading the word to colleagues and “outing” this employee for his past, since she’s stated that she lives in a state where it is illegal for the employer to discriminate against him because his work does not involve children.

    1. Anonymous*

      I doubt it. The whole point of the sex offender registry is to make this information publicly known, and people are allowed to pass this information along (even posting signs if they’d like). As long as OP restricts him/herself to factual information, (s)he has a defense to any claims of libel or slander, and in most places, to tortious interference as well. As a co-worker, she doesn’t have the same responsibility the employer does not to use this information.

      Of course, frivolous suits are brought all the time… but if the man in question is trying to fly under the radar (as it seems he is, by using a different name, etc.), it seems highly unlikely he’d want to publicize it more by filing suit.

      1. ThatHRGirl*

        You’re right that it’s public knowledge, but I do know that people have been charged with harassment of sex offenders before (not in the workplace per se, but angry neighbors making threats and such).
        I’m just curious if there have been other cases like this. I’m sure regardless of the knee-jerk reaction to sex offenders, the employer does not want to appear like a place where harassment of others is tolerated. And I’m not talking about reporting it to HR – I’m talking warning other people in the office, gossiping, making threats, shutting this person out, refusing to work on projects with them, etc. The OP doesn’t sound like someone who would do that but certainly others in the department might take it upon themselves to do so.

        1. Anonymous*

          But there’s a huge difference between making people aware of someone’s documented criminal history, and actual harassment. OP would not be responsible for how other people respond to this information.

          If anyone’s responsible for people being mean to the guy, it’s him. Surely he was aware of how society looked at people who do things like this… and merely pointing out he’s the kind of person who did things like this, does not shift the responsibility to OP.

  47. Anonymous*

    This topic has been very, very interesting to read over. I honestly still haven’t made up my mind on what I would do if I were in OP’s shoes, but I did want to comment on Alison’s section about assimilating convicted criminals back into society.

    While in school I had the priviledge of taking a class on Restorative Justice (if you don’t know what that is and have an interest in offender rehabilitation, look it up!) from a R.J. practitioner who worked in programs that provided support to those who were in the process of being released from prison. I had the oppinion of many others that those who offend against children are essentially monsters and have no right to return to society. While taking this class, we had a convicted sex offender come in and answer questions about his crimes.

    I still don’t sympathize with what he’s done, but it did change my perspective as he spoke very candidly about his experiences including being abused himself as a child. Again, not sympathizing with what he’s done, but it was interesting to hear the story from the other side, which I think happens very rarely.

    Onto my point about reintegration. During this talk the person spoke about how difficult it was to rejoin society, he couldn’t find a landlord willing to rent him an apartment, or anyone willing to give him a job. While he was taking active steps to control his impulses (I don’t agree with the idea that this is something that can be “cured”, rather, people recognize their cravings and learn to find ways to avoid them) and wanted very much to rejoin society, there were so many barriers in his way that he considered violating his parole in order to return to prison.

    Most people who are released from prison after long-term sentences are very high risk to re-offend because of the barriers they face when they leave prison. If you are released after a long-term prison sentence the world is a very different place and chances are the only connections and friends you have are the negative influences that participate in the behaviour you are now trying to avoid.

    We can’t just expect people who have committed crimes to dissapear, rather, more time, effort, and money should be placed in programs that provide support and accountability to offenders as a deterrent for re-offending.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! I used to volunteer for an organization called Offender Aid and Restoration, which works on helping released prisoners with re-entry issues, and it’s really difficult work.

      1. Anon from above*

        It is very difficult! I have experience with an amazing organization called Circles of Support and Accountability.

        It was very interesting, and a huge personal challenge to actually meet someone who had committed sexual crimes against children. Putting a human face and a story to the crime makes it difficult to categorize them only as “monsters” and definitely challenged my personal point of view on how they should be treated in society.

  48. khilde*

    Fascinating conversation here, so I’m not even sure why I’m going to jump in, but these two thoughts kept coming to me while I was reading:

    1). “Trust, but verify.” Wait. That was Ronald Regan. But I still think that’s a good thought: perhaps “Trust, but vigilance” is more appropriate here. He has done nothing to give you cause for immediate concern as of yet. Like many commentors have already pointed out, he’s not in contact with children on a regular basis in the workplace. The “Bring your child to work” Day might give me some concern. However – it hasn’t happened yet. Be vigilant on that day, but no need to cause undue freaking out on any parents’ part yet. Who knows, maybe he won’t even show up to work that day?! But if he is and there are lots of kids running around, just pay attention to him. If he does anything weird, then I’d say you have something that might be worth mentioning.

    2). The other thought that kept rolling around my head was the question: “What’s my {your} purpose in telling?” And I don’t mean this with any snarky tone. It’s a question I have started asking myself when I am tempted to spread some juicy gossip about a coworker or another person. Now – this isn’t necessarily the same as some harmless juicy gossip, and I understand that. But the general self-questionining is still relevant, I think. I think fposte above brought this up and it’s a good point: What’s the underlying issue for you? What’s the purpose in telling? Is it simply because you now have information that you didn’t have before and you just need to get it out of your own head and share with someone else? And like anonymous 4:35pm who offered his/her personal story above, it’s awful information that you can’t undo. Or is the reason for telling because it *seems* like the right thing to do with the newly found information? Or is the reason for telling because you want to try and protect children from future harm? (in which case, anon’s points above I think are excellent). Or is the reason for telling because you want your coworkers who have children in their lives to be aware? But then I ask – aware of what? And once they are aware (just as you are now), what do you hope they will do with that information? From your comments, you appear to be a sensitive, conscientious person concerned about the potential for making things worse and I applaud you for that. Others in your position may have had a knee-jerk reaction which could have made things much, much worse for many people.

    As I re-read my post, it sounds like it’s harsh. But I truly don’t mean it to be. I am really asking these questions from a introspective standpoint. You seem like someone who’s willing to think deeper on issues, so here are a few thoughts I had. Good luck. What a rotten situation to be in all around. I hope you keep us posted.

    1. Anonymous*

      Re: khilde point #2, offered in the same tone and spirit.

      I am thinking about what happens next. What will you do if you do tell and (after all is said and done with the individual so described) your company’s discussion turns to you. As it will.

      It must have taken significant and determined effort – additional research through multiple sources – and perhaps an attitude of suspicion to connect a name on the list with this mild-mannered gentleman, who is using a different name. To say, “Oh. I was just browsing the list of registered sex offenders in my neighborhood and came across …” raises more questions than it answers.

      – About your personal life (what were you doing really? is this something you do in your spare time? why? who else are you investigating?)
      – About your qualifications (have you any professional certifications or relevant work experience in criminal investigations or in working with sex offenders?)
      – About your judgment (why did you decide to drop this bombshell that disrupted this department of 85? what facts did you rely on in determining whether to take this action? do you feel that your 3 months with our company gives you sufficient insight to take action that so drastically affects everyone around you? was it worth it?)

      I’ve clearly phrased some of those questions in a really harsh way (as khilde says, a rotten situation). However, I think that some of them are legitimate. It’s important to recognize that the OP should not expect to have his/her actions welcomed (since the effects will surely not all be to the good). Your future with this company is probably at stake, too.

      OP believes this family-friendly organization would want to know. My advice: don’t be so sure. Management will scrutinize your decision and (even if they agree with the sentiments behind it) may conclude that another course of action would have been better for all concerned.

      The company’s reaction won’t make you right or wrong. But, it is something to consider.

  49. KDD*

    I couldn’t get through all of the comments above, so I apologize if someone else has already made a similar comment.

    I would much rather a convicted criminal have gainful employment than be left without and hence more likely to reoffend. Yes, I would work with someone with a criminal background (and undoubtedly have).

    I struggled with whether or not I would want to know if a co-worker was a sex offender. In no way would any coworker ever be left alone with my child. But if I knew of someone’s criminal past, would I be able work work with them without worrying about what I was saying/doing?

    Yes, I worry for my son, if I knew I would most likely remove all of the photos of him from my workspace as a precaution. But then I would lose all of my own enjoyment of being able to see his sweet face all day.

    So I, as an employee, would not want to know. I am a responsible parent anyway, and will continue to be one regardless. As an HR professional: any recruiter who is worth anything will have already completed some sort of a background check before hiring. Whether it was an official check or merely a Google search, it should have already been done.

  50. Andy Lester*

    Fill in this statement: “HR, I thought you should know that Bob is a sex offender because ___________.” If you can’t come up with a solid reason, then don’t tell HR.

    Too often we take action because we “feel we should”, but without actually being able to put those reasons into words. Often, when we put words to these feelings, they fail to hold up under scrutiny.

    I’m NOT saying there aren’t valid reasons. I’m saying that we’d better be able to put logic and forethought behind them.

    1. Anonymous*

      I think this concept could be applied to so many things in life and the workplace. Although I’m not the OP, I think I’ll be using this strategy next time I feel the need to complain about something.

  51. A Second Heather*

    I’d be interested to hear from the OP after this huge response and plethora of opinions if their own view has changed if they have decided whether or not action will be taken?

  52. Tom*

    THis happened to me too, although I did share an office with this person. I never said anything and had a good working relationship.

  53. Joey*

    A few have mentioned it for this scenario. what’s your take on getting anonymous letters from employees? That’s probably one of the most difficult things I’ve dealt with in large organization. Not exactly in this scenario, but as a complaint. On the one hand it shouldn’t matter that no one owns it, but it’s wildly difficult to take action on complaints that you can’t clarify, that are generally full of subective statements and with questionable credibility. I have a hard time going on a witch hunt in that scenario but I’d probably regret it if it came back to bite me.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ooooh, good topic. I think it depends on the nature of the allegation. If it’s something that would be serious if proven true, I’d investigate, but I’d be a little annoyed that the person used an anonymous note. But ultimately some info needs to be checked out and possibly acted on, even if the person didn’t attach their name to it. And I do know that some people will always feel uncomfortable attaching their name to sensitive stuff, even if they shouldn’t. (Although I’d also do some soul-searching about whether my organization had created a culture that made them feel they needed to be anonymous, and I might try to do some staff education about how to handle concerns, depending on the context.)

      1. Joey*

        It’s interesting you make that link. Ill admit we perpetuate it also. We have an internal web page that is specifically intended to accept employee questions and concerns, anonymously if desired. We publish nearly all of the topics and answers (even the uncomfortable ones) via social media. It’s actually a pretty popular tool we use to plug communication holes to our staff. And it’s also a way for any employee to communicate directly with our executive staff which they love. Although we encourage otherwise the downside is sometimes I think it makes it too easy for employees to go around the immediate manager.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s always a hard trade-off to calculate. I admit I’d probably come down on the side of getting more information, but I wouldn’t be thrilled about the circumventing of direct managers.

  54. Anonymous*

    One thing I wonder is that registered sex offenders have to inform their neighbors, I guess this doesn’t apply to co-workers. If thats the case, he is following the law and this is none of your business.

  55. Joanna Reichert*

    At the risk of getting flamed – and having not read all 200+ posts – am I correct in assuming that “child porn” can include ages of people up to 15 years, 364 days – so just shy of your average 10th grader? I certainly wouldn’t call a 10th grader a child, though I would call them immature in mind and spirit if not the body.

    1. Anonymous*

      Considering the details (hundreds of paid-for pics) it’s incredibly unlikely the photos were not of prepubescent children.

  56. andy*

    it’s none of your business…. let the man get his life back together…. WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

  57. Anonymous*

    This post is in response to those who make the assumption that people who don’t have children don’t understand how you truly feel about child predators. I am offended by these types of comments. I disagree with these types of statement because if it were true people who did not have children would cease to pay taxes for schools and government sponsored programs that positively affect children. Do you think when a child goes missing that only parents search for the car’s description from the amber alert. There are people who don’t have children who spend every day trying to make the world a safer place for children. If you found out that your child’s teacher did not have children would you question her authority to provide care for your child?

  58. Mander*

    Wow. I only skimmed the comments here, but it amazes and saddens me how extremely judgemental and inflexible some of them are. The man has a problem, and he screwed up. Presumably the fact that he was caught and prosecuted means that he is being dealt with by the appropriate professionals. It doesn’t really seem to me like it is anyone else’s business.

    Some time ago I read a story about a man who was wrongly accused of being involved in a child pornography ring. His name and the accusations were widely published, and as a result he lost his job and home, his career was ruined because nobody else would hire him, and he was subjected to constant harassment and threats. In the end he was completely exonerated, and even received a formal apology from the police who wrongly arrested him, but it was too late. His reputation was completely destroyed and in the end he killed himself. This story has haunted me ever since — does anyone really deserve that kind of treatment?

  59. tango*

    My first thought is the company knows about this man or will shortly. Why? Because he’s on probation. Part of the probation process means he has to report to the court his activities, etc. I suspect his probation officer would as part of a regular report, check with his employer to see how he is doing at his job. Make sure that he is in fact not working with children, has he caused any problems and so on. Now it’s possible the co-worker might lie to his probation officer and say he’s not working but how long can that last? Sooner or later the probation officer will want to know how he is supporting himself. It’s also possible the co-worker has a friend or family member who is giving him cover by saying he is the mans employer so the probation officer doesn’t know the truth. But income will be reported by the current employer to the IRS and if the co-worker has to provide proof he’s paid his taxes to the court to show he’s being a responsible person, then that ruse won’t last long. Or it could last for years. I guess it just depends on what the court requires.

    Maybe the poster should contact the mans probation officer and express her concerns. If the probabation officer knows where he is working, then it’s safe to assume the employer does to and let it go. I would think employment verification would be one of the major things a PO would check on periodically so if the employer doesn’t know, they probably will soon enough. If the probation officer doesn’t know where the co-worker is truly working, then the OP has provided information the PO probably needs and can evaluate if this man is violating his probation by lying about his employment situation.

  60. Donna Ballman*

    Wow! I go on vacation for a week and look what happens! Since Alison asked what I think about this, I’ll weigh in from a legal standpoint.

    The question you asked is whether you should tell management. Since you live in a state where it’s actually illegal to discriminate based on a criminal record (with some exceptions), it’s possible that management avoids doing a detailed criminal background check. Let’s assume they don’t know.

    Should you tell them? I’d ask myself whether his job is one where he might have contact with children (customers, etc.) If yes, then you should probably disclose what you know to HR.

    If no, then are you in a position (management, HR) where you might have some legal duty to disclose? If so, then disclose.

    If the answer to both is no, then it’s no longer a legal question and I leave it up to your personal judgment on disclosing to HR. However, I suggest you not disclose to coworkers. Because discriminating against him is illegal, you might be harassing him due to a protected status by doing so. Leave it up to HR or management what to do about it if they know or you tell them.

    If, at any point, you feel a child is at risk, you should, of course, disclose to HR or upper management.

    I personally believe discrimination based on criminal records should be illegal in every state. Unless the conviction has to do with the job duties (an embezzler being hired for a banking job, a pedophile being hired to run a day care), the conviction should have no bearing on the job offer. If a company excludes all convicted felons, the exclusion will have a disparate impact on minorities and men and would be illegal in any event.

    However, my personal belief is not a legal opinion. I honestly don’t know what I’d do in your shoes. It’s really a very personal decision if you have no legal duty to disclose.

    I wish you the best of luck and have fingers crossed that whatever you decide will be something you can live with.


  61. Anonymous*

    why judge someone because they made a mistake with downloading. If he actually touched a child it would be a different story.

  62. Anonymous*

    would like some advise i went to a shop to buy wood floor and have it fitted and we payed a deposit and arranged a time for them to come and do the job 2 men came to do the job and it took to days but he asked if one of my boy aged 16 would like to learn the trade so he agreed to help on weekends and got stoped by the police in a stop chech the next thing we knew he was at the police station answering questions as the person the shop had sent to my home to fit the floor was a register sex offender and wasnt to go near any one under the age of 17 he is still in custordy but i had 3 other children at home on the 2 days this person was there and i wanted to know can a shop send somebody like this to your home and how can this be legal

    1. Sanity*

      To the last anonymous – tell the police immediately! – if he has that restriction and violated, that is a different situation than what I replied with above altogether. He is in violation, and therefore needs to be reported to those over him so they can get him the help he needs.

    2. Sanity*

      They are aloud to send sex offenders in most states, as long as he is not on probation or parole and has no such restrictions. But not if that sex offender has a restriction of that sort. There are laws that prevent him from going to any home where children are present if he has the restriction you talked about, and the company he works for is responsible to know his restrictions, but not on their own efforts – he would have been required to notify them so they could comply. It sounds to me like he failed to notify the company, and thus he violated that as well, and the company was unaware of the restriction.

  63. Sanity*

    This is a hot and a relevant topic, since sex offenders make up nearly half of the justice system in many states due to increased sentencing and many things that used to me minor offenses made into life-long registration felonies.

    I will first address “child porn”. What is it?

    (1) A drawing of a naked girl? I know of art school that draw pre-teen images of naked “fairies” (little girls wit wings) as required curriculum every day – and yes, many of these required drawings would get people arrested in many states for child-porn. And yet, in some countries, these are sold for lots of money and displayed in large frames in galleries. What if this elderly man purchased some of these digitally online?

    (2) A photograph of a naked or partially undressed person under the legal age of consent (this could be anywhere from 15 to 18 depending on the state/country). In this instance, no one is being molested, although there may be emotional or psychological harm going on for the photographed child. Many young children run around the house naked, play “dress-up”, and many parents film or photograph these growing up memories, even bathing their children on film. In fact, America’s Funniest Home Videos shows such films regularly – all considered child pornography in many states. Maybe this man bought pictures of children without their clothes – absolutely wrong, but not involving any actual molestation even by the photographers.

    3) This is the bad one – the one everyone fears – actual sexual contact between people who are not of legal consenting age, sometimes with each other, sometimes with an adult molester. This is the worst type of pornography, and the one the laws were actually made to deal with to protect those child victims, whether from other child predators or adult ones. Maybe this man bought some of these sick pictures.

    The vast majority of child porn online, from what the FBI says, is the first two. The third, unfortunately, does exist as well, but is much less common. Chances are much greater that the man referred to by TheOP bought and downloaded one of the first two types, in which case, no molestation actually occurred in the pictures, whether drawn or someone’s family nude or partial nude photos of innocent children enjoying their freedoms.

    This is not to advocate any of them – I think it SHOULD be illegal to sell or buy any type of image that shows children inappropriately clad. I do not compare it to predatory behavior or child molestation though, and therefore do not consider it a workplace issue.

    Next, federal law requires all states to register sex offenders for life, and to pool their databases with the National Sex Offender Registry. Some states are better at this than others, but there you have it. However, many states have laws against harassing offenders if there is not a specific threat. Definitions of harassment vary, but most agree that it could be defined as canvasing or spreading the information without good cause to think there is a threat, e-mailing or electronically copying any of the info. available at the website for distribution, and targeting the employer or friends of the offender without knowledge of a specific threat. Check your state laws – you could end up in jail if you tell all his coworkers when he has not presented a specific threat that you know of.

    What is a registered sex offender? It varies so much that many don’t know how easy it is to be one. The following are real examples – names changed for the safetey of the “offenders”:

    1 – John Smith was 17, as was his girlfriend of 3 years. On his 18th Birthday, she seduced him, taking his virginity (she had had more experience when she was younger apparently, with her previous boyfriend). She got pregnant, and her mother called the police. John was sentenced to 8 years of prison and a lifetime registering as a sex offender.

    2 – Gary Lions was home watching his younger niece and her friends for a sleepover party. The girls played truth or dare and got him to join with them. One dared him to pull his niece’s pants down. He started to, but stopped, not exposing her. Then he said he wont play anymore ans stopped the game. The next morning, his niece told his stepmom, “Gary pulled my pants down”. His stepmom called the police. Gary told the police everything honestly. He was given 8 years felony probation and a lifetime of registering as a sex offender.

    3 – Dale Pullman had a sexual impropriety when he was 19 with a 17 year old, and never committed a crime again afterwards – not even a speeding ticket. When he was 32, he was in a musical play, and he would arrive at rehearsals early, and sometimes socialize with those who were also using the rehearsal hall, and sing to them as well. The producer, one day, did a background check on all the cast members, and discovered Dale was a registered sex offender. The producer called the police, who told him, “He is not doing anything wrong or illegal”. After four such calls, the producer decided to notify everyone in the cast and who was socializing with Dale. One of the girls who was a month shy of 18 years old got paranoid, and had the police arrest Dale on a charge of “Annoying or Molesting a child under the age of 18” by “Singing a song”. (This was in California, in 2009). Without committing any actual crime, for singing a song to an actress at the theater where he was in a play, he got 4 years of prison, and the state considered it a re-offense. He is fighting his appeal.

    4- Joe Ingram was in his 40’s, and had never committed a crime, and was living happily with his two children, his wife having passed on. A friend of his from his high school days named Paul Drew came to town and asked to stay a few days at Joe’s house. Joe agreed, not thinking anything of his old friend. Paul stayed for two weeks and then left and went to another state. A few days after the friend left, the police showed up at Joe’s door asking if Paul Drew had been there. Joe said “yes” and the police asked to take a look at Joe’s computer. He readily agreed, not thinking anything was wrong. Apparently, Paul Drew was involved in a child porn trading ring, which Joe knew nothing about. The police found hidden files on Joe’s computer (which Paul had used) and arrested him for possession of child porn. Paul had also been caught in the other state, and Paul admitted that he had put the files there, and that Joe had nothing to do with it. However, there was one video not hidden on the computer – Joe had a video of him giving his kids a bath. There was no inappropriate behavior in the video, but the police used this to accuse him of child porn without the other images. Joe got 6 years, CPS took his kids and put them in foster care, and he is still fighting his appeal to this day.

    As unbelievable as these stories seem, they are all real. Although many sex-offenders deserve what they get and more, there are also many who, in my opinion, do not. Just because a person is a registered child sex offender does not mean they are a pedophile, a predator, or even did anything sexual against children. The laws regarding registry are too broad and do not differentiate.

    A true predator should be locked up and the keys should be thrown away. But don’t start a which hunt when looking for them. The laws need to reflect the type and severity of the offense, and the details of what type of offense was involved. Families have been broken up never to recover, and that has a farther reaching effect than just the individual accused.

    As for those who are not predators (meaning those who do NOT go out looking for or targeting children to abuse), I am a strong believer in second chances. We do not live in a society of “Innocent until proven guilty” when it comes to crimes against children, but we should be. ALL people have the right to due process of law, but too many accused of sex crimes never get that due process. They are considered guilty until proven innocent.

    Let me use this man as an example – all we know is that he was convicted of purchasing images that depicted children either partially nude or in sexual situations. We do not know if any images contained sexual situations, or if they were even photos. In my experience, the DA throws everything they can at a person, so had there been any actual molestation, he would have been charged with it, so there is no evidence of that whatsoever, whether in the photos he purchased or in his own actions. In short, all we know is that he made a wrong purchase. Now for the rest of his life he has to fear vigilantes and coworkers and anyone else who might look him up, and he may not even be able to date any more, because few women would ever date a registered sex offender.

    Our Deceleration of Independence says that ALL men have equal inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This man has no such right, despite what our founding documents say, because of his past behavior.

    We have all done things we regret. Most of us learn from them when we get caught, and cease such behavior. Yes, some behavior is worse than others, but we still live and learn and grow, and can stop. Let him live and learn. Don’t go vigilante. Don’t harass him. Your kids aren’t in child porn, so even if he resivatates, which is not the most likely of scenarios, it won’t effect you or your work in any way. Let him be and mind the business of your own work and your own friends. He has enough of a hard time already just being on the website where you found him. Why would you want to make someone’s life harder without them having ever done anything to you? Think of the golden rule – how would you want to be treated if you were trying to get back on your feet after such a destructive action? Let him be.

    1. Holly*

      Sanity, I really loved your detailed and impassioned accounts here. Way to provide perspective.

      However, I fear that anybody who WOULD have the impulse to out someone who was on the registry, would NOT even have the ears to listen to your sensible advice. They live in a black and white world, and I am not sure there will ever be any getting through to them.

      The very existence of the sex offender registry – alone amongst all types of crimes – is evidence that our society fears sex above all other things. Sex frightens us the most. That, it seems to me, is the core issue we need to address: How can we begin to take some of the power out of sex to motivate our most irrational, authoritarian impulses?

  64. Tod*

    There are a lot of responses here, and I did not read them all. So I wonder if any of you have heard this issue discussed from the perspective of someone who works in an office and is required to register as a sex offender for once being in the possession of child pornography. If not, you are about to.

    I was arrested a few years ago and eventually convicted to a two year sentence for being in the possession of child pornography. My arrest ended several years of a growing addiction to online pornography. It was never my intention to get hooked on porn. I initially thought of it as just something fun to do. The internet provides access to a virtually limitless supply of every kind of pornography that you don’t want to imagine, and most of it is free!

    Pornography has a very powerful and corrupting influence. It was not long before I became obsessed with it, to the point of making excuses to my friends and family so that I could spend more time with it. I began to hate myself for not being able to control this obsession. I tried everything I knew to get out of it, but it was more powerful than me. And because I was too ashamed to even tell my closest friends (who were only beginning to get suspicious), I was left to deal with this alone. It was not a fair fight. I eventually became so sick with this addiction that I completely lost my moral compass when it came to porn. I didn’t care what I was looking at anymore. I didn’t question if the teenagers in some of these videos and images were adults are not. Volume became the objective. The more porn I could download and watch, the better.

    I remember in the days before my arrest thinking that if something were to take me away from it for just maybe 5-6 months then I could distance myself from it long enough to get my head right. It would have to be some outside force, like a car accident that would put me in the hospital. Well…I got my wish. Some outside force did take me away from my porn obsession. I was arrested and in December of 2008 and spent two years behind bars.

    I know most people will roll their eyes if I say that I feel like a victim. Internet porn came into my life and took over my thinking, and before I could see what was happening I was helpless to stop it. So I guess you’ll also roll your eyes AND say out loud, ‘Oh Please. Give me a break’ when I say that now I’m being victimized again. Because as a registered sex offender, it has been practically impossible for me to work or keep a roof over my head.

    I was living a pretty good life before all of this happened. I have over a decade of experience as a software developer. I lived in a good, safe community, working from home. I came from a good family, where nobody ever went to jail or even got a speeding ticket. I don’t drink, or abuse drugs. I don’t even smoke. I’ve never harmed, threatened, harassed or been inappropriate with anyone – man, woman or child – ever in my life. All of my friends were decent people. I did not associate with perverts or criminals. I am about as normal, ordinary and boring of a person as you’ll ever meet.

    I guess by now you are wondering if I will ever get to the point. Let me do that right now. I was about ready to take my own life when I got a phone call from someone who’d seen my resume somewhere and offered me an open-ended contract at a mid-sized company, doing data analysis and report development. Nobody asked about my background and I didn’t offer it. I’ve been there for eight weeks, and I love every day that I can come to work and prove that I am still a worthy man. But I also worry every day that somebody is going to ‘out’ me to the HR department, just because they don’t like me being there. When I say hello to someone as we pass in the hallway, if they don’t smile I worry that they know something and they are going to tell. Occasionally, someone will bring their young child to work. Today someone introduced me to their 6 year old daughter as ‘a nice man who works in our office’. It scarred the bejesus out of me. I smiled and said hello. But I was petrified. What could have been a nice moment, talking with this woman and her daughter, for me was drowned out by the anxiety of ‘what if they find out’!

    Not everybody who has done something to get themselves on the sex offender list is a bad person. That’s the take home lesson to this extra long post. Some of us, like me, got caught up in something that we deeply regret, that we thank God we’re no longer in it, and now just want to live our lives the best we can with the crappy hand we’ve been dealt.

    I’ll leave you with a question. If there is a sex offender in your office, ask yourself – Do I want to make sure that this guy is punished for the rest of his life?-OR-Would I rather that he never commit another sex crime again for the rest of his life? Because if you want to make sure that he be punished, then by all means tell your HR, tell your boss, have him driven into the night where nobody will know what he is up to. BUT, if you would rather he never commit another sex crime, as counter intuitive as it may sound, it is better to just leave him alone. Use common sense when you are around him. The same common sense you should be using anyway. Give the man a chance to reintegrate into the community so that he has the incentive to put his mistakes behind him, to get the help he needs, so that he can be accepted as a positive contributor to society.

    Sorry to be so long, but I also hope that my insider perspective has given you something to think about.


    1. Holly*

      Beautiful letter, Tod. I wonder what percentage of Registered Sex Offenders are like you – coherent, sane people who the novelty and immediacy of the internet overcame – and what percentage of Registered Sex Offenders are uncontrollable sociopaths. It’s obvious to me that most of society is intellectually lazy and assumes you’re all the latter.

      But it’s not surprising, I guess, because the officers in the cybercrime police divisions don’t make a distinction between the two groups. Why should we?
      (that was rhetorical, btw)

  65. Anonymous*

    What I find interesting is that in the UK it is legal to have intercourse with a 17 year old but if you look at pictures of a 17 year old you could be deemed a sex offender. I personally do not believe that someone who finds 16/ 17 year old girls attractive to be a sex offender. Pictures and video’s depicting babies and very young children being abused is quite frankly disgusting and people who look at them deserve to be punished. The problem I have is that someone who looks at a few pictures of an attractive 17 year old will be tarred with the same brush as someone who has thousands of pictures of children being molested and abused. Yes, the sentence will be different but they will still be classified as a sex offender. In my honest opinion I believe this to be wrong.

  66. adriano*

    We all have issues againt certain situations, some time our moral values tend to make our views in life differently. But a person looking at a picture of a 17 years old girl, who happen to be punish by the system should be punish by society? well I don’t think so. because if this is the case ,how can a person be rehabilitated if after the legal system finish with them, then the society will continue ponishing them for life. Then what do you think– should we kill them all to keep few people satisfied—
    I believe we all need oportunities to proof a change in life.

  67. RSO*

    What about the man/woman (that right there are woman sex offenders also… who knew) who gets caught up in a situation that lands him/her in prison for 5yrs because of one photo of a 17 yr old and and allegation…That person has no chance once out of prison..or He/She may have been caught up in something many years hence. Ah but once you have the label your done…. Very little chance of getting hired.. Maybe start your own bis… until customers find out… How do you expect someone to get on with their life, maybe some effort should be put into checking things out before condemning a person you know absolutely nothing about… the judges don’t get it right all the time. !!!!!!!
    Have a good day

    1. Sanity*

      ROS, I can see your are personally affected by this, and you are right on two points.

      1 – After a person has done their time, especially a number of years, for what most would consider a small matter, they should be able to have a chance to get back on their feet, but the current system pulls the rug out under them, so to speak, by publicizing the conviction for the rest of their life, even 70 years later, even if the person never re-offended in any way. This is not done with armed robbers or murderers, but it is done to people in the situation you described. This is not justice. (I am not referring to major offenses here,just minor ones as described by RSO)

      2 – The judges don’t try to get it right. If the DA and Public Defender scare the accused enough, whether he is guilty or not, they will get him to plead for fear of losing his family or future completely to a biased jury. The system has a very effective blackmail machine going for the accused so they can push them through on “deals” and avoid court time before a jury. This is why a person who cannot afford a private lawyer in the US has very little chance of seeing justice, and this especially applies to sex cases, where just the mention of an accusation is enough to scare people into convicting without evidence or on the word of just one person “just in case” in many situations.

      However, in this situation, we have a different scenario. The man was caught viewing the porn at work. He was not falsely convicted. However, as he has already paid his debt to society through doing time in prison or on probation, it should not be a current issue unless someone notices him doing so again.

  68. Lauren*

    Hes done his time. Him working in the office is in no way a direct threat to you. You dont know the situation. Its unbelievably easy to be wrongly convicted of a sex crime. The prosecutors also make it impossible not to plead guilty. If you educated yourself on the justice system you would learn that a lot of innocent people have had their lives ruined in this exact way. Should you hire him to babysit? No, of course not. You should take his conviction with a grain of salt though. I trust the judicial system as much as I trust a money grubbing liar. Do some research about wrongful convictions in this country, especially sex offenders, and you would be shocked.

  69. Anonymous*

    Just to point out even though he had child pornography does nyone know the age of the person in the photographs. Many people re classified as sex offenders because they dated someone who was younger than them and because parents get mad that this person broke up with their kid they have them arrested. Someone I knew was 18 and dating a girl 16. The parents took them on vacation got them their own room and when he broke up with her a few months later had him arrested and has him charges for sexual assault. He spent 3 years in prison and now has to register as a sex offender. If it was a major crime and was classified as a high risk the community long with the employer and employee would be notified due to the risk imposed. Which means he is classified as a tier 1. Very low risk to reoffend. If you really feel its an issue, pull the guy aside on day at lunch and approach him like a respectable adult and a human being and ask him. He may tell you what happened. Don’t go around gossiping unless you know the whole story. Things aren’t what they appear. If he was older, did he have kids could it have been a publicly used home computer but because it was in his house it is his responsibility. Don’t just assume. It will make an ass out of you in the long run.

  70. J*

    I’m a registered sex offender. My offense was performing a lewd act involving a minor. I was masturbating in my car when three girls ( two 16 yearolds and one 15) passed by and saw. This was NOT my only incident. I was actively doing this offense for about two years, and not all incidents included minors, but legal aged women as well. The main part of the reason why I did these things, I would say, is for the thrill of being seen by passing women while masturbating. It IS an addiction, ALMOST like to a drug. I am in treatment now. I have served jail time and have a suspended 22 year prison sentence on my head if I violate probation. Yes, I am sorry for the choices I made. Now, all I want to do is get through probation, get well and complete treatment, and make the rest of my life as normal as possible. To the people taking the sweet time to post up replies to condemn sex offenders…SCREW YOU. I’ts obvious you don’t know what it’s like being a convicted felon. ALOT of us can NOT get a decent job to support ourselves, and the ones that DO have jobs are barely getting by. I have made bad choices that I regret EVERYDAY. So what is someone suppose to do with themselves? Can’t get a decent job, people find out your criminal history and point “BURN THE WITCH-ETH”, feeling hopeless in a system constantly changing to KEEP YOU DOWN. What is the point of successfully completing “treatment”, and people STILL declare you unfit for use or service to the community? Some states have a tier system for sex offenses, but not where I’m from, and they don’t want one either. To the person with the sex offender co-worker, leave that old man alone. LET HIM WORK. He is STILL paying for his crime by being a permanent resident in the system, so the LAST thing this man needs is some scary a** person wanting to SNITCH to the company and have his job snatched away from him. Will you purposely WANT to his job taken away from him? Are you sincerely on a mission to TAKE food off of this mans plate? That’s what you are doing if you decide to snitch. “You’re not a parent, so you don’t understand.” Hey, You’re not a registered sex offender, so YOU don’t understand. …I have a deep feeling that this person already b****ed out and just snitched away like a good boy scout, and the man is fired by now. People do the crime, people do the time, but when released back into society, society throws them away like a Glad bag full of picnic trash. Alot of you people are smart, giving such sage advice about keeping us in prison, dying, and going to hell, YOU have all the answers, right? Well riddle me this, f***ers: HOW CAN WE SUPPORT OURSELVES IN A COUNTRY THAT AVOIDS US LIKE A DISEASE?

  71. A human being*

    Hi there. I was convicted over ten years ago for unlawful sex with a minor, a misdemeanor (never had to register). I was 19 and she was 13. I want to avoid minimization of my crime, so I won’t say anything other than it was a horrible thing I did. The trauma that I brought on her and her friends and family is something that I can never take back. My parents never taught me how to make friends; something that people take for granted. I’ve always been a quiet person. Even at 19 my mindset was very juvenile meaning not my age. I think that anyone who has done something bad, later in life when they look back, they see how foolish they were. This happens when we become more mature and it is because of this that I think that people who have committed crimes, should be allowed to prove themselves and have their slate cleaned. Since then I’ve gotten my AA, BA, two Global Peace Studies Certificates and am now enrolled into a Masters program for Teaching International Languages at my local University. If you knew me ten years ago and then saw me today, you’d see that people really do change. With proper motivation, love and support, we can all make a better life for ourselves. I’ve just been offered a position at a local High School for teaching. It will be a great experience, especially for my Masters study in Education. I pray that my past doesn’t conflict with me getting this job. I had my misdemeanor expunged five years ago. I hope that as time goes on, people will be more educated, thoughtful and open minded when it comes to people who have broken the law. Not every criminal wants to repeat their past offense. I’m not attracted to children or adolescents whatsoever. I am not interested in someone who is dependent on me for everything. Young female adolescents look up to us because we have money and can drive. The reason why I got involved with my victim was because I was insecure and had no friends. She looked up to me because I was older. Although I was immature, I still knew that it was wrong what I did. I didn’t stop and think of how my decisions would affect either one of us. I learned from my mistakes like many of us learn. When I was 5 my dad said, “Son, don’t put your hand on the stove. You’ll burn yourself.” He turned around and what did I do? Well, maybe that wasn’t the greatest example but the point is that we all make mistakes and learn from them. I still think of what I did. It doesn’t help me to think about it. I have gone real far and have accomplished many things in my life. I’m a much better person today because of the love and support from my friends and family.
    I sincerely hope that my words will inspire you all to form a better opinion on people with a criminal background. Take care.

  72. Whatever*

    Ok the start of this thread makes me wonder if you even know what the laws, as for I do learned the hard way, if you know a sex offender is working where you do and you bring your kid into that enviroment then you in fact are committing child endangerment to your own kids, how dare you blame it on someone who did their time already, if your not a sex offender you have no damn say to what its like to be us or what we can do, reading half the bs on here makes me out to believe most you are hipercrites, you know nothing about what its like to go through any of that shit

  73. Tracy*

    Well, I’m in a similiar position as the originator of this post. I work with an ex-con who has served a prison term for sexually abusing his children. Of course, I’m not going to let my child remain in his presence alone, and only in a public location for a brief time. When at work I engage in professional office dialog and demeanor, but I’m not willing to do more.

  74. Jake*

    Everyone has responded except a “sex offender” my buddies sister accused me of soliciting her for sex she was 15 and a half 16 is the age if consent in my state I was 17. I spent 2 weeks in county lock up and get to register for 10 years. I can’t find a job and I never touched her even she said that she only accused to me or soliciting her for sex aka asking her. It was found out After trial that she made it up but my state says u can’t change a ruling if it was on plea bargain. My attorney told me to take the plea bargain cause jury’s don’t need evidence they just need accusations. I was accused and would have had to spend 28 years in jail with no evidence. She lied and nothing happens to her but my life is destroyed I’m now 21 and haven’t had a job in 4 years. U people don’t get it. Lives are destroyed cause of stuff like this. Everyone thinks automatically that a sex offender is a rapist. Some of us are completely innocent. Yet I get to deal with stereotypes like these all the time. My life is still in shambles and will be for 6 more years. I’ll be 30 before I can have this stuff cleared of my record. I will not find a Job til I’m 30 cause of these witch trials mentality.

  75. lee*

    As a parent of a child that sexual assult happened to.
    The offender was sentenced to 90 days in county and register as a sex offender. Anyone that believes this to be a sentence that fits the crime, has never sat up with a crying child that can’t sleep because of nightmares. 5 years later they still can’t come home to visit their parents because of the mental anguish. You mess with a kid, you deserve everything you get. Including a lifetime registration. Had this to do over again, there would be no trial.
    I trusted the law to always be there if I needed it. I was wrong!

  76. k*

    Pedophiles cannot be cured. I would certainly not want to work next to one. The company should have done a background check. Some companies have family picnics, parties – would you want him to be invited to be around your children.

  77. Andy*

    I am a newly registered sex offender, while serving overseas in the Marine Corps and preparing to return to civilian life I was accused of possessing child pornography. I was 22 at the time and did look at porn a lot (adult), at the time I downloaded several zip files of what I thought was adult “teen” pictures. While the file was still downloading, before I even had a chance to look at the files I was called into ncis and questioned about my downloads. Thinking I had done nothing wrong I readily admitted that I enjoyed looking at teen porn (here I was referring to the adult actresses who were 18-25 and worked as “teens”) the agent mistook my meaning and they seized my computer and informed my command. After talking with my Commanding Officer and the SgtMajor and pointing out the miscommunication they decided that, considering that and my outstanding military record with no disciplinary or legal problems to speak of, they were not going to charge me. Unfortunately both changed duty stations and the new Commanding Officer decided to cancel my flight home and charge me without even considering it. I consulted with a military defense counsel who told me that because of my statement to ncis I would be convicted with no other evidence, the images from the download were not identifiable as minors and there were adult actress in with other “amateur” photos. I was told that I would be in prison for at least four years if I didn’t take a plea deal, I tried to convince my lawyer to fight the charge and all he did was continue to tell me that there was no hope and that I had to take the deal. Eventually I decided to do that, if it was hopeless I wanted to be able to go home to my family as soon as possible. During the course of the investigation the FBI interviewed my sister who was 12 at the time to determine if I had ever “done anything” to her, she was outraged at these questions and couldn’t believe that anyone could even consider that that was possible. After my conviction my appeals were pushed through the system so fast I didn’t even have time to review my case properly with my appellate lawyer and in less than a year from my conviction my life was sealed.
    I myself was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and know the kind of trauma it causes, because of this I could never cause someone else to have to go through the things I had to, I would never harm a child and child pornography is harming a child. I am not attracted to children or minors of any sort (in fact I prefer older women), but my sister has to go through the ridicule of having lost friends because her oldest brother is a sex offender. This is horrible and I wish that I could change that, but I cannot.
    Because of my status as a Sex offender I cannot find anyone who will hire me, my discharge from the military prevents me from getting assistance for college and I am left sleeping on a couch between both of my parents and other family because I cannot find a place to live that will take me. I admit that I should have more cautious with what I was downloading and I did have an addiction to pornography which I am still dealing with, but I should not be punished for the rest of my life, and have my family affected by a mistake I never even knew I was making.
    While I am classified as only a tier 1 offender I was submitted to the sex offender registry under a different charge/code from what I was charged under because the code was not recognized in the police database as a transferable crime. The capability of a court to convict without any evidence is non-constitutional and unjust for many other sex offenders besides myself and we must pay for the rest of our lives. Because my charge was in the military the only way to get any of my civil liberties back, such as the right to vote or own a firearm, is to get a Presidential pardon. What kind of Karma did I incur to be doomed to this life, I agree that society pushes ex-felons (especially sex offenders) to re-offend because of it stigma against us. We need a way to separate the offenders like me from those who truly pose a risk, and the tier system we have now is severely inadequate for the task. All anyone see’s now is “Sex Offender” and maybe a charge and we suddenly become the world’s most vile creature. People taking “justice” into their own hands and killing sex offenders “to protect the children” and forcing witch hunts of community members to protest in the lawns of offenders to raise awareness. I personally am disgusted by the small minded and bigoted individuals who claim that all sex offenders should be locked away forever or even receive death sentences without regard to the details. Sure, someone who preys on children and molests/rapes a minor is a sick and twisted individual and in my time in the brig (military prison) I knew of at least one individual who admitted that they wanted to re-offend. Those types should most definitely be confined or at least committed to a mental hospital for the rest of their lives. However, I have also met individuals who had molested a child and wanted to change, wanted to never put another child through that. I believe that if the will is strong enough and they get support, that those individuals will be able to change.
    Thank you for putting up with my rant, assuming you read it all, and may peace find you all.
    As far as the original post question, I would suggest you either say nothing, as you don’t know the details, or ask the gentleman himself. He will probably be embarrassed or even angry at the intrusion but if you approach without judgement and honestly ask to hear his side you may find that he really is just a kindly older gentleman, and if you still are uncomfortable with his status after talking with him about it then approach the employer.

  78. Noneya*

    This has recently become an issue in my life. Someone I know is “under investigation” for viewing porn/child porn. I have 4 children ranging from 2-8, it’s their uncle. He has confessed to his preacher, his church friends, he’s in counseling, he is relieved to no longer have the burden of Satan upon him, he amazes me in his trust in God, I wish I had that same trust in God. He is my brother, and I will love him forever and I have never and will never pause to leave my children in his care. I don’t believe in much, but I believe with every fiber of my being he would never touch a child. As with many things, I consider this to be an addiction, perhaps it can’t be cured but that doesn’t mean that he will ever be a danger to children because he looked at a picture now and then. I struggle with my own addiction, I don’t know if the correct term would be former or recovering, but I used to be a cutter. Addictions are not easy, but they can be overcome. One last thing, shame on all of you who judge others, it is not for you to judge.

  79. Thomas*

    Two years ago the cops came knocing on my door. I was presented with a search warrant and told I was being detained on suspicion of child porn posession and/or distribution. As a new father at the time my HEART STOPPED and quickly found myself in a situation that has forever shattered my family’s life because of some videos and images I happened to download off a torrent website. The distribution charge was DROPPED as there was no evidence to convict. The day I was interviewed they scared the shit out of me by threatning to take away my daughter and involve my now ex-wife. So I admitted to downloading the pornography and tried to explain they were download through torrents and had no idea if they were still on my computer or not. They did a check of all of our computers, laptops, cell phones and found just under 100 images and about 25 videos of what they classified as “child pornography”. I realize my porn problem was out of control and led me down some seriously suicide-tempting paths. I spent 9 months in jail for “simple posession” of child pornography and am now a registered sex offender for 10 years and cannot see my daughter probably for the rest of my life.

    I cry every single day with extreme guilt and depression. I have had 4 jobs within the last year and have lost tghem all due to the publicity I received in the media.

    I cant change what I have done, but do not consider myself to reoffend. THe porn that they found was mainly webcam videos and images were of young boys, girls with adults. The sad thing is I knew that was on there and everything was deleted (only found out later). BUt the police scared me into admitting details that were not true and had no choice but to plead guilty and live with the fact I no longer have a family.

    The the people who think “people like me” should be killed, etc I invite you to do so. I really have no ambition to live and live in a depression filled hell every single day.

    Since my convictions I have spent many months in self paid counseling, sex offender treatment program completed and currently in sex offender maintaince program. I try to live a normal life, but I was diagnosed with major depression and PTSD as a direct result of my shitty choice and actions. I have always been a Godly man, but since my life collapsed Ive recommitted my life to Him and pray that I can at least have my daughter back in my life to some extent eventually.

    I pray for anyone reading this who has gone through a similar situation. Please know that I have empathy for you and hope to God you are following through with all your treatment, etc.

    Thank you for reading and God bless.

  80. bob*

    This blog is full of misinformation. Sex offenders are the felons that are least likely to re offend. Does this mean that one should leave their child alone with one? Of course not. Many sex offenders are Romeo and Juliet cases. An 18 year old having sex with a 16 year old is guilty of statutory rape in many states and will have to register for life.

    I will admit that I am a sexual predator. I had sex with a 17 girl. That is of legal age in our state. I videotaped a party at my house where she flashed her breasts. I was found guilty of possession of child pornography. I spent time in jail, am not allowed to practice as a doctor, or go to a public park. My children and friends will not have any contact with me. I ruined my life.

    Yes, I am a doctor. I practiced for a decade and never had a complaint about my care. The police questioned my staff, patients, and friends. No other accusations surfaced.

    The purpose of the sex offender registry is to identify those who are a threat. Filling it up with those that are of low risk prevents the data base from being a useful tool to protect your children

  81. notanonymous*

    Cristal R. While I agree with your point I just want to let you know in Pennsylvania what you call simple possession is a felony and that felony charge is under the broad brush called “sexual abuse of children” there is no other info on their registration page about it being child porn possession so anybody viewing it see’s an offense called ” sexual abuse of children” . Its not hard to imagine what ppl think that person did when they see that means law page. This leads to a bigger issue. People in this state actually touching and molesting people most often plea to crimes such as corruption of a minor which is a misdemeanor and not a registerable offense. This is done to avoid putting victims on the stand and taking the chance of a loss and affecting conviction rates etc… the ramification is the child porn convict is nailed to the cross an made an example of while real predators who crossed the one from fantasy to offend are paying almost no price. Corruption of a minor can be buying a minor cigareetes or apparently in deleware county PA it can mean molestation. Sometimes another misdemeanor and in registerable offense like indecent assault is thrown in. Now as for child porn it boils down to if its on your CPU you are guilty period and must take a plea because you will lose and face 7-10 years for each image. The real annoying thing is these posecuters and task forces get their money based on things like felony convictions and number of arrests and so on. This leads places like delco to focus on the slam dunk moneymaker of child porn cases and let all other cases take a back seat and plea them out. The problem is the more dangerous offender never even has to register and if he does its for a lesser offense while the child porn guy gets a sexual abuse conviction never even touching or talking to anyone. This is a misuse of the intent of Megan’s law and the very ppl like Corbet who keep coming off as hard on sex offenders are the same ones letting real dangerous ppl walk and using smoke and mirrors and child porn convictions to one the dept budget or get elected. It is disgusting. Megan’s law was designed for sexualy violent predators and once you water down the criteria for having to register you desensitize ppl on Megan’s law and reduce its effectiveness. In other words if look on that site and put in my zip and see 100 offenders I become desensitized yet if their were 1 person I knew I must look out for it becomes more serious. I’m not down playing child porn but the same ppl saying how dangerous sex offenders are are the same ppl who determine who is a swx offender and at least in delco Pennsylvania they don’t determine someone who puts their hand down a sleeping child’s pants a sex offender since they will plea it down to corruption of a minor and maybe indecent assault. 9 times out ta 10. These offenses are not registerable unless victim is under 12 and are misdemeanors yet when go to the site to see sex offenders all I see are child porn violators who were charged with feony sexual abuse of children and i get know info on the guy or gal who molested a child. I will say that rape is treated different and when I say molest I’m referring to cases of fondling and touching. Penetration cases are treated more serious but still often plead out because of victim trauma.

    1. Holly*

      Wow, I never thought of that aspect of things.

      Child porn cases are prosecuted more forcefully than child molestation cases, simply because they are EASIER to prosecute. If that doesn’t sap all your faith in the forensic/judicial process, I don’t know what will.

  82. Billy*

    Leave it alone. The guy paid his debt to society, and now he is put on display for the rest of his life on this registry. He downloaded porn, he didn’t rape a kid. I bet he regrets that decision every day of his life because he knows his face is plastered permanently on the net. Let him live his life. he hasnt done anything to you, why would you try making life more difficult for him than it already is?

  83. bdep*

    A staff member discovered a senior 37 year old male employee was convicted approximately 7 years ago for aggravated assault a male victim 13 and under. The employee is not on our state site for sex offenders. We have verified the conviction and that the employee is a registered sex offender. In fact, he is registered as working at our firm.
    Now that we know – the issues are huge –
    We are mid sized construction firm so we don’t come in contact with childern unless they are present at a residential job site.
    But what if the employee that knows- tells other employees or tells a client
    what if the other employees find out and feel they should have been informed – what if they refuse work with this person
    My personal belief that a sex offender that targets very young victims is beyond redemption. This is not a romeo – juliet 18 and 17 year old thing. This crime is targeting a victim that is very young and defenseless. It is a crime by corecion, manipulation, etc. – I believe, that this type of offense, like rape, is not crime for sex but a need to inflict victims with an actual physical assualt or a pschological assualt brought on by aggressors deep rooted emotional damage. The person who molests a child has crossed a profound taboo barrier that they obviousily know they will have dire consequences if caught. The question to me is not if the person in question can access a child at the work place- rather, it what other situations will this emotional damage manifest itself.

    1. Anon.*

      The complexities of the sex offender issues are just that, complex. I hope that upon rereading your post, you can identify the correlations you made from deductions and assumptions. In these complex situations, if you truly care to make a positive contribution for the greater case, you must realize that it is always best to have an open mind.

      Every convicted sex offender is classified with identity. Both a personal and a consequential collective identity. Whether or not a sex offender is a pedophile or not, he/she inherits by consequence of his/her conviction ( whether merit or void) a collective identity of a pedophile. That on top of his/her personal public registration.

      In a clinical sense, a sex offender is generally and vaguely classified as a mental health disorder. Not emotionally damaged.
      Psychologically speaking, the motives behind a sexual crime are very rarely fueled by a desire to infest fear/terror/pain/suffering(masochist), rather a inability to stop an impulsive behavior rooted from a moral thought error. In a environment of rehabilitation it is identified as a “Thinking Error”.

      Most in American society think of these individuals as morally bankrupt and without any atom of hope. I am a clinician, and I have been involved with the rehabilitation of sex offender since 1996. In my personal opinion, your opinion, are identical to the common opinions and misconceptions in regards to sex offenders.

      Like they say in life, we should let the professionals do the job. I personally don’t hold opinions about brain surgery because I am not a surgeon and know nothing about the brain and all its complexities. I can only wish that the average person could pick up on the same sense of place. Because your comment, along with its commonalities are completely out of place, and of baseless. But its supposed to be. Your not a sex offender, nor are you a mental health professional ,who specializes in the rehabilitation, and social reintegration of sex offenders back into their native habitat.

  84. Tom*

    I had child porn. A lot of it, I have not been arrested yet, but the FED’s took it all on a search warrant, just a few months ago. I am currently employed with a very good job for the state of which I will resign at the time of arrest Only 4 people know what has happened – 1 friend, my boss, a lawyer, and a therapist. So I feel qualified to speak on the state of mind involving a soon to be convicted Felon. I received a few cp movies around 5 yrs back, and I was interested; just something a friend gave me on a dvdr. I remember being wowed by it. Over the years I sought to collect more. I felt if it was out there, that I had some right to look at it. My reasoning at the time, I believe, was one of interest – thinking on it now, maybe the proclivity was there all my life, maybe if it was shown to someone with a stronger moral base, they would have had an appropriately violent reaction upon viewing it. But for me, I was intrigued.

    Over the years, I found that I could enjoy watching it, I could masturbate to the depictions I was seeing. I should mention that, I have always enjoyed hard-core Internet porn. Not totally for sexual gratification but also interest in what was being produced out there; what people did with each other. Do I get off on watching a Horse with a woman, hell-no, but it’s like you can’t look away. Or a video of someone getting struck and killed by a truck on Youtube – that’s horrifying, and off topic, but still, it draws attention. The child porn started to have a place in my life, gradually.

    Ever since the FED’s visited my home, I have been in horror of the events that have so irremovably changed, or will change my life. Since it happened a few months ago, I may just still be in shock, and maybe this is where my remorse stems from. Getting caught with child porn is tantamount to people being arrested as terrorists. Child porn arrests have far reaching consequences. My colleagues at work, friends, family, and even the security I felt, in a life that I thought already written.

    The best explanation I can detail for you all about some realizations I’ve come to have is that once something like this happens, at least for me, I instantly became aware of the people in the videos. I was masturbating to the depictions of sex, free from the moral implications that made the children in these videos, actual human beings. I now reasoned that the kids smiling and seeming to enjoy themselves are being raped, not because our idea of rape has someone kicking and screaming, but because the kids are trapped, and the monsters that are raping them are probably the only support base they’ve ever known which makes them wanting to please these very important people in their lives. Once the realization of this washed over me, I was horrified. I have imagery that haunts me because the movies flash in my head. I’m repulsed by the actions I demonstrated when I was aroused by viewing it. The danger with child porn is that, for many people, when they are exposed to something like it, the material may rewrite the mental pathways that may cause the deviation to develop and help form your sexual attraction to minors. As a child porn collector, I can tell you, first hand, I had no desire to follow up the perversion with an assault on a physical child. My world is one of fantasy, just like someone fantasizes about killing people and watches a trove of snuff films. I am sickened by the Tb of materials I had, and that so many, many different people are killing these children from the inside out. I was not prepared to experience the level of remorse I currently feel from my involvement. There is more to me than the activity I find myself in trouble with, but as a sex offender, this moniker will seem to define my existence and my time here on earth, for the rest of my life. I cannot bring myself to forgive ever enjoying the sexual depictions I exposed myself to, or the shame and pain I see in my mom’s eyes.

    I would have ended it there, but for the sake of disclaimers, it’s good for someone like me to feel this because with it is a joined sense of terror that I may one day feel as I did, and I believe, that most of all, the terror will always remind me of what I’ve learned and how I’ve had to learn it. Thank You.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thank you for being so candid and sharing this perspective — it’s one we don’t often hear, and it’s helpful to understand where people in your shoes are coming from.

  85. Solidad328*

    Hello All,
    I would like to comment here. I am someone who was recently convicted of this same crime (Child Pornography), and there is a couple of grave misconceptions about this whole thing, and again, I am speaking from experience.

    1.) Through our required therapy, we eventually gain the understanding that the crime of watching child porn is as serious as what the person did in the video because you basically re-commit the crime every time you watch it. With that being said, the offender cannot start to heal until he understands and accepts that fact. I am sure that the offender from this post is being taught that in his no doubt required sessions.

    2.) Despite what everyone here seems to think, people who have been convicted of these crimes CAN be helped and can change. The point of the SOMB therapy program (sex offender management board, which I believe operates in every state) is ‘no more victims’. This program is VERY successful. and I am getting a grasp on some of the things that led to my conviction. I downloaded 3 pictures off the internet and got convicted. I don’t minimize what I did, and I take responsibility. I am getting help that I need. One important thing that I found was common in my group sessions is that many of us were abused as children as well, including myself. I don’t say this as an excuse, but just to offer a little perspective. EVERYONE has inappropriate fantasies (not necessarily sexual, but fantasies all the same). Everyone has wanted to smack their boss, or curse someone out, or thought about cheating on their spouse, or something else at some point in their lives, but we don’t because we learn to control our thoughts and actions. The therapy that is provided to sex offenders (or any other therapy for that matter) is designed to manage inappropriate behavior.

    3.) Despite general opinion that is mostly false, the recidivism rate for sex offenses who are caught in general are VERY LOW (almost as low as murder, as that crime has the lowest recidivism rate). The only reason people think that sex offenders will always reoffend is because you only hear about the people who reoffend. You never hear about the VAST majority of offenders who DON’T re-offend. The employee in this example is getting therapy, because his FREEDOM DEPENDS ON IT. Wikipedia has a pretty good article about this, with good references (article: Sex Offender).

    4.) If a sex offender or any other convicted offender doesn’t get a chance to make something of themselves after their crime, it WILL increase recidivism. I was a highly educated IT professional before I was convicted, and I have been trying to find work for 6 months now, and IT is as far from working with children as you can get. I know that I shouldn’t be working around children, and I wouldn’t do that. That still leaves about 99% of jobs open to me. Should I really not be allowed to work anywhere because of my conviction. People in general recommit crime because they cannot find a legit way of earning a living. The guy who steals cars might go back to doing that because society will not allow him a legit job, and when he does that, society will assign him 100% of the blame.

    5.) So the point here is that the offender in this post is doing exactly what he should be doing, which is working. That guy is the lowest threat possible, because he has been convicted, he is in therapy, and he is working. You have less to fear from him than everyone else that you think you know.

  86. Solidad328*

    Oh, and I wanted to make one more point.

    6.) Despite the general opinion that is falsely shared by many, not every sex offender is a child molester, and every child sex offender is a pedophile. Most people don’t know the actual definition of what a pedophile is. This is a person who is ONLY attracted to pre-pubescent children. I commited a child sex offense, but I am NOT a pedophile. My problem was with pornography and illicit sex in general. I was downloading so much porn of ALL types, I honestly didn’t care or make the distinction between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ porn at the time when I was downloading it from file sharing programs, and I was having sex with my wife and just about every other woman and prostitute I could find. When I got caught, I had 3 images of child pornography, but I had like 4000 images and videos of legal porn. I had some real sexual problems most of my life, but Again, I don’t say this to minimize, but to give perspective. Every case is different. I wasn’t specifically aiming for child porn, but I still downloaded it. and I still had to take responsibility

  87. booty*

    i work for a cleaning comp. we have 5 sites and 9 people at each site the owner only comes to my site once a week. and one of his other workers transfered to my site. at each site we work in difrent places but the owner makes us all meet for are lunches so we have to talk with each other so we became friends and only 2 of them have not been in my house. one day he brought a hat he made for one of the others i liked itso asked him if he could make one for my little girl for 30$ on my birth day he came over to show me what he has done and drink some beers and watch some movies my daughter was a sleep on the couch when i looked back to talk to him i saw him have his hand under the blanket tikleing her feet not eleagle but not rite so i got her to go to her room after the movies i had him leave me and the wife wanted to do a check so on monday i asked my boss what his last name was she told me and asked if i knew he was on a pedophile web site i told her no she said she just found out the last friday when i got home the wife and i looked min up and was stuned to see him on it so we called the police to see if he was still on prob. and he was so he was not to be around kids and he never told me i just wanted the hat for my girl so now he is back in jail and now the cops think i was in on it with him. it makes me sick. the owner never told any body not even my boss where we clean there are some other people where we have the contract that have hep and tb so we have to where gloves all the time we dont know who they are but we now they are there. and if i did know i would not have let him know where i lived. or in my house i want to hurt him so bad.

  88. Anonymous,*

    Ok folk’s, I am a registered sex offender, I was known as a tier 1 offender. My case involved an officer the age of 65; he was posing as a 14 year old girl to who I never chatted with on the internet. I was 35 when I was convicted for this crime, importuning was the charge. For those who don’t know importuning means you intend to have sex with an underage person crossing a county line. Now that you know what I was convicted for, I will now tell you how and why, that is if you care. I use to work retail, a shipping department manager. I had hired an 18 year old boy and not his friend. He was upset about this, later he became what I thought was a friend. He had computer issues and I told him I could help him with them. I later found out he wanted my job so he could hire his friend. I had gotten my computer back 2 days later after fixing his, since I am a nice guy and I usually try to help my friends out whenever I get the chance; he told me that since I have him working an open shift the next day could I pick his sister up in the morning. I refused at 1st, he insisted and even gave me gas money, so I caved in and did it. That night signing on line I had a message pop up on my computer, it red “hi sexy how are you doing”. Next thing I knew the conversation quickly turned to that of a sexual matter, I then informed this person “sorry but if you are 14 there is no way in hell I’m having sex with you”, I then blocked the conversation. Now next morning I went to the address that my employee gave me and called the number for his sister. Once I called the number I got surrounded by 10 undercover police officers with their guns drawn, they are yelling at me to get the f out of the car. I had the laptop I let my friend borrow on me which now had child porn on it, and was held without a phone call for 2 days. My wife almost left me but she knows me and knows I would do anything to help anyone and would not hurt a fly. She stood by my side even after I was convicted and had to register. I lost friends, my job, my home, and now told I can’t live anywhere close to a school. Yes I was not a father back then, and was told by the prosecuting officer if I was a father she wouldn’t do this to me. My daughter was born a year and a half after I was convicted, she is my world and I would defend her till my dying breath. If anyone was to harm her in any way I don’t know what I would do. I was asked if I would take her with me if I know sexoffenders where in the room, well like you all here on this site the answer is HELL NO ARE YOU F-ING STUPID. I am tired as hell of all you out there that say, “O shit, that’s great, a sex offender just moved into our neighborhood. We need to lock up our kids and beat him to death if he walks by our house.” So sorry I have to be the one that makes you wonder where your kids are, trust me as a parent, I get it. Truth is folks; the streets are not a babysitter. You need to know what your kids are doing; your carelessness could be your own undoing. When your child is convicted for the same kind of crime if not worse, you all will treat them the same way? Let’s get real first you will ask why, and then like my family, you too will make up things to deal with the truth, Just so you feel better about yourself. I was like you all once, until it happened to me and folks Karmas a bitch.

    1. Amouse*

      Thanks for sharing your story. It’s important to know that sometimes people do get wrongly convicted and sometimes life is just not fair.

  89. hope*

    I just want to say that where i was working we found out a co-worker was a sex offender level 2 with a 11 yr old girl.on his registry it says computer, porn, intercourse. To me that is disgusting. I told my boss. We had a meeting and was told we need to respect this person. I am sorry but some of us have things we are living with, respect for someone like this i do not have. After the meeting i asked to be laid -off. My HR manager said yes she could do that and she understands, one hour after i get home she calls me and says she spoke to soon . she cannot lay me off. I told her i already sumitted a claim to unemployment. she said to me she will only give me one week pay that is it. think about it. I tried to call her no return calls. I received a certified letter saying i voluntary terminated my position. How wrong is this??? my co-worker is a level 2 sex offender , i felt very unconfortable with that .He’s got the job and I do not. Maybe no unemployment either. crazy laws. The people have no rights. criminals have the rights.

    1. Anonymous*

      I agree with you that there are a lot of sick individuals that just don’t deserve the right to walk among us. I am a tier 1 or level one offender. My crime was being to kind and trusting to others. I wrote earlier about the two guys that took advantage of my kindness, they set me up because I would not hire his friend, and now to your story. I mean yes; if someone had the premeditation to follow through with his sick plan, then yes I do not believe he should be working in an office building with others. I believe they should not be left sitting at home left to themselves either. Even though my case never involved a child, I’m still looked on the same way as this freak. I fear for my daughter who is 4 now and ready to start school, and when she makes friends what do I tell her friend’s parents. I mean I would never hurt a child let alone my own but still I have been branded with this black mark, and it will never go away. It’s almost as bad as being the nerd in high school all over again, bullied by society and not by your peers.

  90. Cox*

    Damn, he know he did wrong the man is trying to make a living just leave him alone. He already have to deal with registering as a sex offender you don’t have to bring up his past.

  91. Dennis*

    I’ve read a lot of hysteria here. Let Christ lead your life not fear. Not everyone is the same. I was placed on probation for possession of child pornography. I have a beautiful wife and a beautiful newborn son. I am now a sex offender but I am not attracted to children. I did not go looking for child porn or purchase it. I downloaded it through shareaza torrent network along with thousands of other media files. 4 unopened files among 160,000 files. It was cheaper and safer to take probation than face a jury and possible prison. We just didn’t have the 30,000 it would have cost. My advice is to make informed case by case decisions. Don’t group all sex offenders as predator pedophiles.

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