update from the reader with a coworker who was a registered sex offender

Here’s an update from the reader who had learned her coworker was a registered sex offender and was wondering whether to tell anyone:

Unfortunately, my story doesn’t have a positive ending. About two months after you answered the email I sent you, my coworker was led out of our department by a supervisor and hasn’t been seen since. No one knows what happened except that he was let go. Obviously none of our supervisors or HR representatives divulged any details.

I never told anyone in the company about the gentleman. I never did get the chance to talk to him more than a handful of times after sending you an email, but my general impression remained one of a friendly and polite gentlemen. I never got any creepy vibes off of him, and since our company only has children in the building on “Bring Your Kids to Work Day,” I decided not to pursue the issue after I calmed down.

{ 26 comments… read them below }

  1. Heather*

    Oh this is infuriatingly curiosity-provoking! If it is for me and I don’t even know the guy, I can’t imagine what it’s like for the OP who actually worked with the guy.

  2. A Bug!*

    Not much to say on such limited information re: the guy himself or his removal, but I did want to give kudos to the OP for taking the time to think the issue over before making a decision.

    1. fposte*

      I agree entirely. I can understand that it can take a little bit to process this kind of information, and it sounds like it led the OP to a decision that she’s comfortable with.

      While we can’t know what was happening on the management level to let him go, I’m glad at least that if this was the reason, they’re feeling that that isn’t something they need to broadcast.

  3. Elizabeth West*

    It’s good that the OP stayed out of it, no matter what happened. It could have had a very negative effect on her at work. The dismissal may also not have had anything to do with the sex offender issue.

  4. Another Anonymous Poster*

    I know from reading the post that the OP’s co-worker seemed friendly and polite. However, I would like to recommend that we (as adults who care for and about children) not let our guard down around adults we don’t know very well – including those who seem friendly and polite. They may very well be harmless. They also may be sex offenders – you just don’t know. Many sex offenders seem friendly and polite. That’s one way that they lure in unsuspecting, innocent children. Someone who looks at child pornography can seem friendly and polite. However, they are supporting an industry that destroys the innocence of and harms the minds of children. Their behavior may mirror the behavior of those who have no evil intentions. And they may seem to have solid, positive relationships in their lives. I think that some people do believe that child pornography is a “victimless crime”. However, the child involved is the first survivor of a horrible, cruel, unfair ordeal. (Note: I prefer not to use the word “victim” because it tends to imply that there is no hope for recovery. It is possible – although extremely challenging – to recover from this). I’d also like to point out that when one child is traumatized by being exploited in this manner, it often impacts their siblings, friends, cousins and others (children as well as the adults who care for them).

    In case anyone is wondering, I do not have children, although I’d like to some day. I do have nieces, nephews and cousins I adore. I also have friends who have children who I love. As a responsible, caring adult, I would fiercely protect any of these children – as well as a child I didn’t know but saw was in trouble – from a sex offender – even one who seems nice, friendly and has a pleasant demeanor. I wish these horrible crimes did not exist. It truly makes me angry and sad.

    1. Soni*

      Another aspect to keep in mind is that someone can be labeled a sex offender for a lot of “crimes” none of us would consider dangerous or predatory – a teenager having sex with his few-months-younger girlfriend, a drunken frat taking a leak in a dark alley, an underaged teen sending naked pictures of himself to a girlfriend, an adult male having sex with an underage girl who lied about her age to her partner and had a fake ID good enough to get past a carder at the door of a bar, a parent taking photos of his child in the bath – all of these are or have been prosecuted as sex crimes and can get you on the list, and few if any of us would consider any of these people a threat. Heck, most of us probably DID these things (or would have, if camera phones had been part of our teen arsenal). So discretion is the better part of valor, and leave a little extra room to consider that the circumstances behind the label may be, quite literally, nothing to worry about.

      1. Anonymous*

        I always like to remind people of this when the term sex offender comes up, as the only sex offender I knew (that I know of, at least, I suppose) was the first example you mentioned. He was I think a year older than his girlfriend, both were teenagers, but she was just under the age of consent and he was just over. Some places have provisions for this (where I grew up if you were within three years of age of each other it was not considered a crime) but in most places there’s no such thing.

        That said, there is no reason to assume someone is safe or that their conviction was unfair or false just because they are polite and friendly and not creepy. If all predators were creepy and made people feel unsafe, they would be not only obvious but also a lot less successful. Someone being charming does not guarantee any kind of behavior, good or bad.

      2. Another Anonymous*

        The OP mentioned that this person had been in possession of child pornography. I do agree that using “sex offender” to label someone who had consensual sex with an underage person just a few months younger than him/her is a terrible misuse of the term. It places an unfair and undeserved label (for life) on a person in such cases. While I disagree with that from a moral perspective, that in and of itself would not give me any reason for concern.

      3. Brett*

        Although, it is also rather easy to find out exactly what crime the sex offender committed, including the age and gender of any victim. Many times you can find out online, and if not it rarely takes more than one phone call.
        This will not give you the exact circumstances, but can help you get a much better feel for the situation.

  5. MWM*

    In response to the sex offender issue. People should really learn to mind their own business. I too am a former sex offender. My crime consisted of having a consensual relationship with a minor. I served 4 years in prison for it. It took about a year before I found a job. To make my parole office happy I apply any where. I was suprised when I got hired at Sam’s Club in Gurnee, IL. I worked there for 7 1/2 years without a problem. I got promoted after only 6 months and became a very valued employee. I was even named employee of the month twice. In 2007 I was sent to Wal-Marts Shareholder meeting in Ark. Which is a big honor. Then in 2008 some busy body with nothing better to do decide to search the sex offender site. They saw my picture and spread it around the store. No one cared at first. I had work there for years without any incidents or complaints. But earlier that year we got a new assistant manager (Cindy Resch) she found out and reported me to home office. I was questioned by loss prevention like I commited another crime. Then I was suspendid and later fired. All this because Cindy said here kids come their to shop and she didn’t feel comfortable with me being their. For those of you who have never set foot in a Sam’s Club. You have to be 18 to get a membership and you have to accompanied by an adult if you are under age. I never lied on my application. My crime was in my file. I willingly provided that information myself when I got interviewed. At the time of my hiring home office didn’t do background checks. That didn’t matter. Wal-Mart was on a which hunt. They fired 800 sex offenders that month. Only three had ever reoffended. I have not been able to find another job. I lost all my benefits and my dad died when I could no longer afford to help him out. And Cindy, she got fired for fooling around with employees HALF her age. And I was the one she was worried about. AGAIN FOLKS MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS. WATCH YOUR KIDS LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO ANYWAY AND YOU WON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE SEX OFFENDER NEXT DOOR. Oh and by the way. Most sex offenders on those websites are FIRST time offenders so the site is really useless!

    1. Kelly*

      I’m sorry this happened to you. What’s crazy is that this is not an unusual story. I would bet that half the people on the sex offenders list should have never been there in the first place. The company I work for has hired people with a criminal past – even some who were sex offenders – the only thing that we do is make sure the three girls who work in the office are always careful. We are never alone with the men in the shop and our parking spots are all at the front door and there are cameras. Our safety is important, but so is giving people a chance to put their lives back together after being in trouble. What’s the point of getting out of jail if no one will give you an opportunity to have a normal life? Best of luck to you, sir. I hope you will find your place in this world.

  6. jane doe*

    I would like to say I have mixed feelings on this issue….I am recently a relative of a sex offender. My family member was arrested for looking at child pornography. He has never had any sexual relationships in his life, he is lonley and may never be loved by anyone but his family. He has had troubles his entire life with being accepted…he has disabilites in his speach and seems “slow” but he is the kindest, most loving, caring christian person I know. He has the abilites to live on his own and provide for himself but I see him looking at these as I would see a jr high child looking at these and making fun. Not that i say this is right to do but it is something that a person wouldnt know is wrong until someone told them….especially of that mentality. I have always been asked if this family member is retarded and i have always defended him. Anyways so he is now a sex offender just for looking at these sites …..he didnt know he was doing something that could get him into trouble. Now he thinks he is stuck with this title for life and it has ruined his life. Now he may never get married or have anyone love him the way he deserves to be loved. I do believe he has learned what he has done wrong and would never do it again now that he has been told it is wrong.
    I am trying to find a way to help him. Life was already hard for him before ….now it is even worse.
    I just dont think it is right for anyone to judge these people just because they are sex offenders. Some of them really do not deserve this title for the rest of their lives.
    My family member never acted on anything to hurt a child and never would.
    Someone who has been shunned their whole lives does not deserve such severe punishment such as a title for everyone to see when they can learn from it ……especially when all he did was look at something that is obviously avaliable to the entire world. I love this family memeber and want to help him so badly. Please let me know if you know how i can.

      1. Anonymous*

        i agree but the people doing it shouldn’t be severely punished for a first time offense….they need to be watched and warned how bad their actions are. Child porn is so available that alot of people are so unaware of how much trouble you can get in.

  7. Angie*

    It never ceases to amaze me how narrow-minded people can be on this issue. Why do so many people assume that everyone on the list is a pedophile and/or a danger to their children? The definition of sex offender has been expanded to the point of being so broad, it is meaningless. And the sex offender list is a witch hunt. When you look at your local registry, you don’t know if your neighbor is a child-molesting pervert, or the eighteen year-old senior that got busted for consensual sex with his high school sweetheart. There are many, many instances of being placed on this list just for being young and stupid – even when no sex is involved. And in some states, Ohio for instance, one does not even have to be charged with a crime to be put on the list.

    Regarding child porn: in today’s internet world, it is extremely easy to download this stuff unintentionally; you do not even have to open it or look at it to be charged with its possession. I am certainly not defending anyone who does this intentionally nor someone who purposely distributes it, but the laws for child porn sentencing have gotten so harsh and out of hand that even judges are not comfortable with them and are handing down sentences below the guideline range when they believe it is appropriate. They are so harsh in fact that the minimum sentence is actually higher than that of a child molester or murderer. Sentencing driven by politics and revulsion rather than justice and empirical evidence, and building a justice system on emotion rather than evidence, fails all of us.

  8. pb*

    I was done for procession of kiddie porn in uk and went to prison for 6 months and 6 months bail hostel,worst thing,when i was working during the day,a lodger in my house was using my computer without my consent and was downloading into hidden files on my computer ,not being computer expert didnt look for hidden files (no need too)Police coming knocking door one day takeaway computer,next thing you know, i’m on procession of that stuff!!!!My lawyer told me to plead guilty as it was on my computer and it’s up to me to know whats on that computer.ignorance is no defence in uk law.The lodger even admitted to my friend,he did it but police was’nt intrested,when my friend reported it.Lost some of my family and 10 years on sex registar.I’ve even seen a aticle in one of our national paper’s saying 60 percent of people in prisons in the uk for that crime are not even guilty!!!People buy secondhand computers and don’t bother getting them checked out contain alot of internet crime and if caught on you’re computer without bill of sale .YOU WILL GET DONE!!!! so be aware.Thank you

  9. Tessa*

    Whether you like it or not,you wouldn’t want people putting your business out there,so mind your own business and stay out if it. If your employers didn’t have enough mantality to not check his background,then they’re the ones at fault. EVERYONE deserves a second chance. Everyone.

  10. Anonymous*

    Yu should not judge people NOT every person convicted ofsuch a crime is guilty! M husand was convicted and lost eight years of hislife for a crime in which he did no commit! And may I add being african american did not help him. Think twice before you judge least you not one day be also judged by someone like yourself.

  11. Reality check from a partners perspective...*

    There has been a lot of hysteria on the subject of sex offenders and, in many cases rightly so, however please please please don’t isolate someone from society because they appear on a register or you hear a rumor. Remember not all ‘sex offenders’ have offended against children (not that thats ok of course), but also remember that nothing is as black and white as it may seem. Granted, there are many dangerous men and women out there who everyone (not just the young and vulnerable) need to be protected from, but if you have concerns about someone, particularly if you are on civilised terms, take them aside and ask them about it. Depending on the person, you may not get the trueth, but you can then go and speak to your local police/social services and voice your concerns. If the person is a threat, measures will be put in place to protect your family and you will be involved in the process of that. There is a hell of a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes with the offender and their family to protect people.

    To echo the post above, my partner was convicted in 2009 for a crime he did not commit, he is on the sex offenders register until feb next year and we now have a child. In many ways, although its about my sons protection, it feels like I am now being punished for a crime my partner did not commit. Sex offenders registers and sexual crimes do not just affect the ‘accused’, but their whole family. The media in turn, hieghtens the hysteria for a good story.

    Think before you judge people, and prey it never darkens your door, because anyone can be accused of sexual offences, and if that person is in your family, you are tarred with the same brush. It kills me when I hear horror stories on the news of innocent children experiencing horrific, brutal treatment, but if you are innocent of the crime, or a family member of a criminal, I wouldn’t wish this on you even if you were my worst enemy.

  12. pissed off*

    Im a convicted sex offender and i have to register over some crap that happened 22 years ago a female lied to me about her ago and believe she didnt look her age and yes it was consentual and here i am stuck registering for life over some crap it saddens me that they put us all in a bubble like we all prey on kids some of us made a mistake but dont be so judgemental at labeling all of us child molester

  13. Ginger*

    I have a similar problem as the original post. What is different is that the sex offender worked with children and touched them inappropriately. According to the article I read he was to serve six years in prison but it was reduced because this was his first offense and good behavior. Now he volunteers with me a a fundraiser. The fundraiser is an ongoing adult event that raises money for a k-8 school. So all of the volunteers have children. Since he obviously can’t volunteer at the school itself, he is helping at this adult event for which clearence is not required. My concern is that we got involved with him because I have a minor daughter who is of babysitting age. He needed a babysitter and she was available. We had no idea of his past until just he other night. He has never tried anything with her but for sure she will not be babysitting for him in the future. Now I am left with the concern if I should let management know. If he would keep to himself I would have no problem answering my concern. But he used those co-volunteers relationship to get a minor babysitter. What should I do?

    1. Danny*

      You stated “He needed a babysitter and she was available. We had no idea of his past until just he other night. He has never tried anything with her but for sure she will not be babysitting for him in the future.” Your 110% sure he “used those co-volunteers relationship to get a minor babysitter”. Or was he simply in need of “a” babysitter? Did he specifically ask for a minor babysitter? I agree not to let your “Babysitting age daughter” babysit for him again, that’s just good parenting, but you “read an article” about his situation? Was the author looking for reviews? Was the author a reporter trying to beef up the story to make ‘news’? Have you spoken to this man to hear his side of the story, or are you jumping to conclusions that others have said about him? With all the 12-17 year old children being charged and convicted as “Sex Offenders” due to “Sexting” it might be a good idea to think for yourself for once.

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