my boss was arrested for child pornography

A reader writes:

Two weeks ago, my boss sent an email to our corporate office saying that he had a family emergency and he would be out for a few days. After a week, everyone who works with him started to really get worried about him. Seriously, this man is a workaholic. Some of us who are closer to him than others (those who hang with him outside of work) were calling his cell phone and subsequently his family to make sure he was ok. After the family was cryptic about what was going on, we all started wondering what happened and thinking the worst case scenarios, as anyone does when they worry about a friend.

After some online searching by me and another employee, we found that he has been arrested for child pornography. We both feel betrayed and disgusted by this man. He has met our kids. I have no idea whether his bosses know the full story or if they even care. They talked to him mainly by phone and email, while we saw him regularly and have gone to dinner with him.

The two of us who know the truth worry that it may become a local media story covered by the newspaper or TV once the trial starts. We wouldn’t want to find out that way. Personally, I was worrying about him and if someone else found this out, I would want to know so I could stop worrying.

Should we tell his bosses what we found and/or tell the rest of our team? Also, if the media starts covering the story and mentions where he was employed, shouldn’t we all be aware of this before the rest of the public, since we deal with customers 10-30 times per day? Please help!

Talk to his boss — who’s presumably your management contact now that your manager is incommunicado anyway, right?

You should talk to his boss for a few different reasons:

1. You need to discuss logistics. What’s the plan for the management of your department while this is going on? The last official thing you heard was that he’d be out for a few days, and that was two weeks ago. Someone needs to step in and give you a longer-term plan for what’s going on.

2. You’re right that this type of event has potential public relations implications for the company, and at the very least, they shouldn’t be blindsided by it.

3. This type of thing isn’t value-neutral; it’s going to be upsetting to people who hear about, particular people who work for him. Frankly, that’s true of any arrest, but it’s far more true with an arrest for something like this. The company needs to know what’s going on, decide how to handle it, and communicate that to employees. People shouldn’t be left to discover it for themselves randomly, and then be left to wonder whether the company even knows about.

So yes, talk with his manager. And do that before you discuss it with the rest of your team, since it will reflect better on you if you allow the company the chance to handle this first.

{ 118 comments… read them below }

  1. Amy. B.

    It is also possible that some of that type of material is on his work computer and the company would possibly need to contact law enforcement.

    1. Ruffingit

      He’s already been arrested, which means law enforcement has probably already been to the office. I knew someone who used to work in cyber investigations and when they had cases like this, they came into the office at night when no one was there to image the computer(s). They left before anyone showed up for the work day. It’s been two weeks. It’s likely they’ve already been there.

      1. Anon21

        Without even informing the computer’s owner (the company) at the time of the search? That doesn’t sound like standard procedure to me in anything but national-security/terrorism type investigations.

        1. Ruffingit

          The owner(s) of the company would have been informed. Doesn’t mean they informed any of the employees though.

  2. Julie K

    Also, unless/until he’s convicted, you don’t really know if the charges are true. I wouldn’t ever defend anyone who possessed child pornography (or even looked at it), but being arrested and being convicted are two different things.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      Yes, please remember this! My father was arrested for molesting a child, spent a night in jail, and was fired from his job. It turned out that the little girl had been molested, but was afraid to say who it really was and so named a neighborhood man she knew: my father. It took weeks and weeks to get the job back and many months to get his life back to something resembling normal. Being arrested is not always the same as being guilty.

      1. Elizabeth West

        This is very true. The accusation can do as much damage as a conviction. I’m so sorry your father got caught up in this; I hope both he and the little girl are doing okay.

    2. Brton3

      I’m so glad multiple people came to the comments right away to point this out! The letter writer does NOT necessarily know “the truth.”

    3. Sabrina

      I agree. A guidance counselor at my high school (many years after I graduated) had child porn found on his personal PC by a computer repair service. Turns out that it was downloaded without his knowledge by some spyware. He was acquitted but not before he lost his job and reputation.

      1. FD

        Exactly. This *does* happen. It’s not meant to excuse anyone who actively looks at such things, but remember that people are innocent until proven guilty under the law.

        (However, Alison is certainly right that there are PR implications regardless of whether he’s convicted or not.)

      2. Cassie

        I’ve always wondered about whether seeing some (potentially child) porn on a work computer should be reported. Years ago, I was searching a computer (with permission) for a photo and did a search for jpg extensions and came across some images of girls possibly in their teens (they could have been older; I didn’t really look much).

        I knew it was quite possible that it was spyware or malware; the user had a tendency to click on emails that he received, even when they were (clearly to me anyway) fake emails.

          1. Jessa

            Yes report it, they can find out if the pictures are A: legitimately family or B: inappropriate and C: either way whether they belong on a company machine.

            Even personal photos of family do not necessarily belong on a company machine.

    4. The Other Dawn

      Yes! I was coming here to say the same thing. No one knows for sure if this thing has legs yet or not.

      1. Jessa

        And that’s part of the reason the company may not have said anything yet. It COULD be solved as “not him or not his fault (spyware, someone else using his computer to make him look bad,) before they need to make any statement besides “see we knew he was innocent/guilty.”

        This falls under “accusation = life destruction.” even if innocent.

    5. LisaD

      Yes, this is what I came to say too. There are a lot of ways that just being incompetent with computers or allowing an unsavory character to use your PC “to send an email” can create enough material on a person’s hard drive to get them arrested.

      1. Mary

        My concern is that the OP said this was two weeks ago. How long would it take to prove that someone hijacked his computer? I mean if it was me and I am innocent, I would be paying people big money (that I can’t afford) to work around the clock to prove my computer was hijacked.

        If he was arrested; does that mean he is out on bail or still in jail? If out on bail and he is not yet convicted of a crime; why isn’t he back at work? His choice or the company’s? I would assume now is when he needs a paycheck the most. The longer he is out of work, the more suspicious this is.

        1. Anon

          Whether he’s out on bail depends on the jurisdiction and the crime charged. He might be remanded (unlikely: that’s usually for flight risks and big-ticket crimes like first degree murder), he might be out, or the bail set might be too much for him to afford. He might be out on bail and staying out of work to avoid drawing to attention to himself – regardless of his guilt or innocense, this is a highly embarrassing (to put it lightly) charge.

    6. ITwannabe

      +1. An arrest doesn’t equal a conviction. If possible, please try to assume innocence until guilt is proven. I always think of JonBenet Ramsey’s parents and the hell they went through before they were absolved of any involvement. No one should have to go through that kind of hell.

      1. Sophia

        This isn’t a JBR thread so I won’t derail it too much but it just came out a few weeks ago in the news that the Grand Jury voted to indict the Ramesey’s. The DA office didn’t want to pursue. I speculate (as have others) because of the Ramsey’s political standing. So, just saying, they are not the best examples to use because there was enough evidence for the grand jury to indict them

  3. bemo12

    While I agree with the advice given, maybe you shouldn’t rush to judgement until he is convicted.

    Innocent until proven guilty and all that.

    1. Colleen

      Agreed, but they do need to have a line ready for dealing with customers if it makes it to the news – something like “We are deeply saddened and troubled by these allegations. We assure you that this issue will not affect your customer experience, as Bob will now be handling your account” or whatever.

      1. BCW

        Even then the problem is that so many people will jump to the conclusion that he’s guilty before its proven. So why bring this information to other people?

        1. Meg

          Because in this day and age the chances of people finding out anyway are highly likely. If it looked like the company knew the information and was just sitting on it, it looks worse than if they acknowledged it upfront. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but PR is a funny thing sometimes.

  4. Escritora

    Don’t rush to judgment. Some law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges understand that what’s on your computer or network is not necessarily put there by you. Some do not. Since you don’t know which set is working this case, here are some benign reasons for your discovery:

    1) Someone else in his household could have put it there. He may have a relative who Has a Problem, similar to the way some old people are charged with music sharing because they have a teenage relative using Napster/Kazaa type service.

    2) Or, someone not in his household at all could have done so, via the use of his wireless connection. You ever sit at home or work and see various wireless options available for your laptop/desktop? Some are secure (you need a password), some are not (just jump on if you have enough bars). Some people don’t know they can lock down their router, and keep it from broadcasting “Here I am! Pick me! Pick me!”

    The man could be a victim in that scenario. If you frequent tech sites you know it’s happened before, and that in some cases, I think in England, someone was maliciously set up for that very charge, and the set up was caught only by chance.

    So yeah, tell the boss’s boss. Do not blindside the company. Do not rush to judgment. Take a wait and see approach. Do not spread rumors. You don’t know the facts.

    1. Cruella Da Boss

      1+ on the unlocked wifi router!

      This happened to one of our IT guys the day he was having his wifi installed in his new house! It took place in about a 30 minute window between going live and getting the password set up.

      Weeks later he gets a knock on his door from a police investigator with a warrant for his computers. Thankfully none of his computers had anything questionable. When the police investigator told him the date of the occurance, he had a copy of the service ticket with a time & date stamp from the independent contractor handling the install during that time frame.

      They eventually did catch the actual offender, who was searching his neighborhood of several hundred homes for unsecure wifi to mask his crime.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Yipes!

        I get mad at people who don’t lock down their routers. I hear “Oh, but I share it with my neighbors, just being neighborly, you know.” You don’t know what your neighbor is doing over there, or his buddies or his stupid nephew’s monkey’s uncle. Not to mention Sammy Sicko, who’s cruising around hopping on any wi-fi he can find.

        1. Kat M

          Yeah, if you’re really that friendly with your neighbors, go over in person and give the ones you know and trust a guest password.

        2. Natalie

          A couple of people I dogsat for were nearly booted from their ISP because they had an unsecured wifi network. Turns out everyone in their neighborhood was using it to pirate movies.

          1. Anonymous

            Confession – I don’t know how to lock my wifi down. I’ve done searches and it seems really confusing to me. Any good step by step sources?

      2. Kimberley

        A friend of mine had his banking information hacked into and his accounts drained. He couldn’t figure out how it happened. Eventually it came out that he was using a neighbour’s unsecured Wi-fi. Apparently others were too.

  5. HarryV

    Being that he volunteered to leave, he is likely guilty. I’ve encountered this situation with someone who retired at work and at a volunteer organization. What I can say is be careful of ‘activist’ who claim to want to protect children. They are involved with the tv show where they lure child predators to trap them. What the activist will do is plaster the name of the accused all over nearby schools, work, areas to warn them. But I think think this terrorizes the kids especially if they know them personally.

    1. Ruffingit

      Doesn’t appear he volunteered to leave. If he’s being charged with possession of child pornography, he likely had to leave the job because he knows he’s about to spend time in jail/needs to raise the bail money/needs to begin formulating a trial strategy, etc. I wouldn’t say leaving your job when you know you’ll be in jail is volunteering to leave and I wouldn’t say that his leaving his job has anything to do with guilt. It’s just logistics. You can’t do your job from jail. Most of the time.

      1. Jess

        It also wouldn’t be unheard for a condition of any bail to be “stay off computers.”

  6. Escritora

    One further point. An IP address is not a person. Many neighborhoods or workplaces are assigned a single IP address, which can be subnetted (split off) into other addresses. One user will have a particular IP address (that’s the one you see on your network, it usually starts 192.1 or something), and then the address is “released” and someone else has it the next day.

    I used to be in a position where I could see the addresses of trolls at our newspaper’s site. Why didn’t I ban the IP of the trolls? Because it could mean cutting off everyone at Ford or Blue Cross & Blue Shield (insurance company) or an entire neighborhood in a particular city. So, don’t assume. Wait for the evidence.

  7. SB

    If he’s been arrested for child pornography, there is a strong chance the authorities will search his place of work as well. Any computer, phone or digital device he’s used, want to talk to any of his acquaintances about his behavior, etc. So, even though an arrest does not = conviction, there still may be disruption at work, and it’s best to prepare for it.
    While in college, my husband’s (then boyfriend’s) landlord was arrested for child trafficking/ child prostitution. The guy was a complete scuzzball. The police came to interview all of his tenants.

  8. Regular Commenter

    Re: the comment about being creeped outed and “he has met our kids.”

    All I will say on the matter is that I look at (legal) porn at home, but that does not make me a rapist or any other sort of criminal.

    1. Meg

      There is a world of difference between legal porn and child porn. No one here is accusing people who look at legal porn of being a criminal or a rapist.

      1. Ruffingit

        I think the point he’s trying to make is that looking at it doesn’t equal acting on it so the OP being creeped out that this guy met her kids may be unfounded in that looking at the child porn doesn’t mean he’s going to commit sexual molestation with her children.

        I think we can all agree that child porn is disgusting and horrible so please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I condone it. Just that I understand what Regular Commenter was trying to say.

        1. Anonymous

          Looking at it perpetuates its existence. In my opinion he is acting on it. If it was cartoon images I can see that argument, but actual children were abused to create it. That’s the world of difference.

          1. Liz in a library

            Not to get too political on this, but that is absolutely true in the case of child porn. By creating a market for it, you directly contribute to more children being abused. That’s part of why it is illegal and what makes it vastly, vastly different from legal porn.

            1. Liz in a library

              And just to make this completely obvious, I mean the general “you,” not anyone in particular here.

        2. Elizabeth West

          NO NO NO NO NO NO.

          Adult porn is entirely different. For kiddie porn, its mere EXISTENCE is a crime, because children are not capable of informed consent. I don’t know of any state in the union where they are.

          I attended a citizen’s police academy back when I was a crim major and they had some, and we looked at it. It is the sickest thing–you cannot even IMAGINE. It nearly made me blow a blood vessel, I got so mad at it.

          1. fposte

            Right. But I think the point that’s being made is that there’s a considerable psychological difference between people who view child porn and those who directly molest children, so that even if this is true of the OP’s boss it doesn’t indicate her children are or were in danger. I’m still agreeing with Calla below that I wouldn’t want my kids around somebody who sexualizes children, but that’s not the same thing as a risk projection.

          2. nyxalinth

            Agreed. The fact that it exists means something was done to the children involved. Done. To. Them. Not something they participated in. Even the most vile porn featuring adults is consensual most of the time. there’s never consent with children.

        3. anon

          Regular commenter going anon for this-

          I am not a lawyer, but I have been involved with sexual assault victims for several years and also have known someone who was charged. Depending on how the charges were filed and the local jurisdiction/laws, it may not be clear if he was just looking at something online, or if he was actually participating in the act of making it. So while it does not necessarily mean he was just a consumer, it also does not necessarily mean he was NOT just a consumer either. It really depends on the case.

          Also, these cases are pretty hard to prosecute. In general, for any sex crime, the percentage of cases that are actually resulting in arrests, charges and convictions are miniscule compared to the amount of crimes committed. In my experience, prosecutors will not bring charges unless they are certain they can win the case. While you shouldn’t rush to convict him just because he was charged, the government does not usually waste time charging people who they have not been monitoring and building a strong case against over a period of time. What I’m saying is, it is unlikely this is someone who was innocently downloading a virus and got caught up in this. Possible, but very unlikely.

        4. Meg

          I’m sorry, but looking at legal porn and looking at child porn are just not comparable, which makes his comment irrelevant at best, and dismissive of child abuse at worst. As other commenters stated below, even looking at it is perpetuating a horrible crime, as well as indicating some seriously messed up personality traits.

          1. Meg

            And for what it’s worth I have a REALLY hard time criticizing a mother for not wanting her kids to be around someone who has looked at child porn.

                1. fposte

                  I guess so. I didn’t read anybody as saying “You should still let your kids be in his company,” and I didn’t say it myself. I haven’t read anything criticizing her stance about her children at all. Talking about likely levels of risk is very different from saying that people are required to feel any particular way about those levels or are wrong for actions they take based on those feelings.

    2. Calla

      Parents are 100% entitled to not want people who sexualize children around their children, regardless of whether they’re going to act on it.

      1. Ruffingit

        I agree with you. But as the OP, I wouldn’t be so quick to rush to judgment on this guy either for all the reasons others have stated. If he’d been convicted, then sure don’t have him around your kids. But that isn’t the case here. I think the OP might feel better if she/he stepped back a bit and waited to see what happens with this before freaking out that he’s met her kids.

        1. Natalie

          I think there is a difference between the OP feeling creeped out and the OP freaking out. We have no indication the OP has done anything except have an emotion, and there’s nothing gained from suppressing emotions. In the privacy of her own head, IMO the OP can be as creeped out as she feels is warranted.

  9. MR

    Is it possible that it could be a relative with a same/similar name? I say that because with these types of cases, I would think they would search the work computer ASAP and it doesn’t appear to be the case here, especially since it’s been two weeks and nobody at work seems to have a clue as to what has happened.

    As a result, the boss may be taking some extended time off to deal with the fallout in the family. Or, maybe it is indeed your boss that got caught…who knows at this point?

    1. Brett

      As Ruffingit mentioned above, co-workers would likely not know that the computers were searched, as this is almost always done outside of business hours.

      1. MR

        My counter to that is that upper management would know about the search warrant on their premises, and as a result, be making plans to handle the long-term/permanent absence of the manager.

        Based on the OP’s letter, this is not happening, if only because the staff seems to be flying by the seat of their pants with zero direction from upper management at the present time. If they had known something, they could at a minimum, give some general short term guidance as they get things situation from their end without tipping their hand about the investigation.

        1. Ruffingit

          I agree they could give some guidance, but this isn’t the first time a company has left a staff with no manager and no guidance and it sure won’t be the last. Companies do strange things sometimes in the wake of management being charged with crimes. See the stalker letter that AAM recently published. The subordinate got a restraining order against that guy, had a ton of evidence against him, and yet they still kept him employed.

          It’s quite possible they will still keep the accused here employed as well and therefore don’t want to say anything until they’ve decided what to do.

      2. Anon

        “as this is almost always done outside of business hours.”

        This is absolutely not true, and I say that as being someone who is currently working in law enforcement. The police will physically remove the evidence from the building, regardless of the hour.

        1. Brett

          That might be for your department, but our department removes the drives, not the server or computer itself, and does this outside business hours most of the time.
          Then they do forensic recovery from those drives and bag them.

          1. Ruffingit

            Yup. The person I knew who did cyber forensic work came in after hours, imaged the drives, and left. Didn’t even look like the computers had been touched by anyone once they were done.

  10. Meg

    Alison’s advice is wonderful, as always. Definitely speak to his boss’ boss, who SHOULD know if he doesn’t already. The other commenters do have a point though – you don’t know if he’s guilty. I’d advise against bringing it up outside of work, or in any sort of “gossipy” context. Discuss it as needed with senior management, and how it relates to your job, but don’t start spreading the word around.

    1. The IT Manager

      I agree. The boss’s boss and someone at corporate hopefully knows the specifics since he has been out for 2 weeks which is more than “a few days”. It’s boss’s job to notify, but it’s his boss’s job to follow up if a few days stretched into two weeks.

      But corporate should have informed the LW’s office about the longer than originally planned time out for the boss. And Alison is right, they need to be planning what to do if the accused absence stretches out for a longer periods of time and if and when the PR fall out occurs. So I agree with Alison, call corporate HQ and the boss’s boss ASAP before spreading the word at your office. Hopefully they’re already working on a plan that involves informing you and your co-workers very soon.

      I love to hear a follow up that someone from corporate showed up at the office within a few days since it would be a sign that they took a little long but were preparing to deal with the situation smartly.

  11. Tony in PA

    Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Try to be emotionless and clinical about things. As much as this is a situation that can cause extreme emotional reaction, from a purely business perspective, you can’t let that color your actions.

  12. anon-2

    In the Boston area, there was a little old lady (literally) who was under suspicion — for trafficking in child porn.

    Problem was, she was away for two weeks, left her router on, and unsecured — and someone in proximity to her stole the connection via wi-fi.

    And if you have ever been accused or suspected in a crime that you didn’t commit — IT IS HELL. It is costly. Exoneration is good, but doesn’t make up for the damage.

  13. Bryce

    So, what do I do to prevent this stuff from happening inadvertently, like securing my router, installing security software, etc.?

    1. The IT Manager

      Step 1. If you have a home wi fi network secure it with a secure password.

    2. Anlyn

      I use Avast for my anti-virus/spyware monitor. AVG is also pretty good.

      If you don’t know how to set up a password, contact your service provider and ask for IT support. They are usually happy to help.

    3. Escritora

      If you have a router, go to the brand’s admin page. This will differ depending on your router brand–Linksys (now Cisco), D-Link, Netgear, etc.

      For example, the Linksys router’s admin is accessed by typing the following into the address bar of your browser: 192.168.1.1. I believe by default the login credentials is admin or administrator and the password is “password.” Check your router brand’s regular website, or just Google it, to confirm. Once there, you can check the security settings and set up a password. Also, change the default login to something other than admin/password. You can decide whether or not you want your signal to be broadcasted to others in the area at that point as well. Hope this helps.

  14. proxzimus

    As a social worker and working as a child protection worker, I have basically seen it all. I can see how the write of the post might have reacted the way she did. I would have done the same but after thinking it out, that is when the logical part of us begin to tell us that just because someone is arrested does not mean that they are what they are. To truly be able to make a decision we need to know both sides of the story and I can only imagine how hard it must have been for the write to realize what she was reading. She probably did not consider her boss a boss but more like a friend and when we learn bad things about our friend we are hurt and we react emotionally.

    So people, please do me a favor, cut the writer some slack, I am sure that 90% of the writers would have reacted the same way and you can count me as someone who would reacted just like the writer did.

    1. Kate in Scotland

      Yes. I absolutely had this reaction when the guy I had previously shared an office with for 3 years was on trial for child porn. Turned out he had 180,000 illegal images. He went to prison for 2 years.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Two? Years?

        *facepalm* Good Lord. I was hoping you meant two HUNDRED years.

        1. Regular Commenter

          I’m of the mindset that with the exception of the most serious crimes, many of our jail sentences are too long.

          Not too long ago, I spent a night (actually 28 hours) in the local jail. I never left my cell. “Three hots and a cot” was two slices of bread and your choice of bologna or cheese. The cot was a piece of sheet metal with no mattress and no pillow. No books, no TV, no nothing.

          I honestly don’t know what two years would accomplish that six months wouldn’t. Granted, I was probably in a holding area and not a “regular” cell, but a week in that place is enough to convince you that whatever it was that you did isn’t a good idea to repeat.

        2. Anonymous

          Honestly? If it was your father who had this problem, would you want to see him in prison for that long? Do you think it would help him?

          The US “justice” system is hell-bent on retribution and no longer even pretends to rehabilitate. It’s been proven time and again that longer prison sentences do nothing to reduce crime.

          1. TychaBrahe

            You can’t rehabilitate a person who is sexually attracted to children.

            Being attracted to children is, psychosexually, little different from being gay or straight. That is who you are attracted to. Just as you can’t make a straight person gay or a gay person straight, you can’t make someone who is attracted to children into someone who is attracted to adults. (Well you probably could with a drug that changes or clears neural imprinting, like LSD, but could you take the chance that it worked? There’s no way to confirm these things.)

            The only thing they can do is commit to live their lives without having any sort of sexual gratification. That is very, very difficult.

            I’m very clear in my personal belief that sexual abuse of a child should be punishable with LWOP. You simply cannot trust those people back in society. I’m less clear about the consumption of child pornography. While it’s true that someone has to commit horrible crimes against a child to create it, the viewer is not the one perpetrating those crimes. On the other hand, we all know that many people, after viewing porn involving adults, want to bring those situations and behaviors into their own sexual relationships. Viewing actions of any type on screen normalizes those actions, and it’s not a unrealistic jump to conclusions to think that having watched a child being sexually abused that a person who enjoys that might want to try to recreate it.

            1. Jamie

              While it’s true that someone has to commit horrible crimes against a child to create it, the viewer is not the one perpetrating those crimes.

              As sickening as this is, it’s like any other business…supply and demand. If the demand wasn’t there creating a market for it there would be no profit.

              Being a consumer of a product that by it’s very core damages children in a profoundly painful way leaving lifelong scars creates the market that pays others to create more victims.

              Cannibalism is wrong. So if I don’t kill Steve, but I really love the loin of Steve someone else served me and I want more human meat even if I never do the killing myself, but I’m buying all kinds of people chops and burgers and steaks from others who do murder people to provide this I’m just as guilty of the carnage as if I used the knife myself.

          2. Calla

            “If it was your father who had this problem, would you want to see him in prison for that long?”

            Yes.

            Seriously, is saying “what if YOUR DAD were the child sexual abuser” really supposed to make someone more lax? Even if I supported the death penalty for this (which I don’t, but let’s say I did), I’d support it whether the criminal was my dad, my co-worker, or a stranger, because I’m consistent in my morals.

            That said, I do absolutely believe in prison reform and rehabilitation, when it works. I’m not sure that it’s ever been proven to work for this kind of crime. If it does, okay, let’s give that a shot; if not, we’re back to “yep, even if it’s my dad.”

  15. AllisonD

    Reserve judgement and stay focused on work-related issues and logistics. The tone of your letter convicts him, which isn’t how our justice system works. Please keep any communication with him minimal and work focused.

    1. Anon21

      “The tone of your letter convicts him, which isn’t how our justice system works.”

      Good thing the LW isn’t “our justice system,” then.

  16. GaGirl

    One other point to make: You can’t just assume that the company doesn’t know about it/isn’t working on a response (whether the allegations are true aside.) As someone who works in corporate communications, I can tell you for a fact that, unfortunately, it takes a LONG time to prepare any type of statement or response about anything because of the endless approvals/vetting that must take place before something is published, whether it is for employees or the general public. I would think for an issue like this it would take even longer. Just because you haven’t seen anything yet, doesn’t mean your company isn’t working on some sort of response or statement or doesn’t have some talking points in place in case the media does call the company looking for a quote. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring the issue up with whomever is serving as your “manager” right now. I just thought it might be something to keep in mind.

  17. Brett

    Police computer forensics have almost certainly already been to the workplace at this point (outside of work hours). They might have even done this before the arrest. They absolutely would have gone after every computer and device touched by this person.

    The bosses have been served with search warrants. They know what is going on. Not only do they know, they might not be in a good position to talk about the case at all if anything was discovered on work computers or phones.

  18. Mary

    I believe the company already knows. My daughter’s school had a teacher who had child porn and was accused and convicted of abusing a child (not in the school). We are not aware until ‘the lawyers’ deemed it okay for the school to notify the parents to say his school computer had been searched and the charges brought up against him. It is probably the same scenario here. The lawyers are working overtime to figure out what to do ansd how to announce this without getting sued by the employee.

  19. Elizabeth West

    I second the commenters who say the company probably already knows. This is such a hot-button crime that law enforcement has probably already been there and searched his office/computers/etc.

    1. Kat M

      Yeah, but talk to them anyway. At the very least, they should know that the information is out there and available to any employee (or client!) with the inclination to search. That will affect how they handle things in-house.

  20. BCW

    Besides the “don’t rush to judgment” thing, I will say what else struck me as weird is that you went on an internet search about this guy. I mean you called him, and he didn’t return your calls. Ok, I can see being concerned then. But you also talked to the family, and they didn’t seem to want whatever it was to be public knowledge, yet you had to keep digging? Maybe the family has knowledge that you don’t about his possible innocence, but now you have this information that you are going to spread other places. I know its the digital age, but did you not think this guy had a right to privacy?

    1. Mishsmom

      if it’s on there, i’m going to find it with google or whatever search engine i choose. everyone has a right to privacy. it’s not really happening anymore… but they have that right. and you bet i’d have googled this situation too. especially if it was someone i cared for/was close to/knew as a colleague and especially if i felt they were hiding something. is it wrong to wonder and be curious/nosy? who’s to judge?

    2. Meg

      A person’s “right to privacy”, which is not a very well-defined concept to begin with, absolutely does not extend to hiding illegal activities from the public.

    3. bcw

      My point wasn’t to excuse his behavior, but rather the fact that op was clearly prying. What if they found some other, non illegal reason for the guy dropping off the grid. I just think it was too much. If he wanted to confide in you, he would have.

      1. Woodward

        I’ve googled people before when I stop hearing from them. I have a dear friend out of state that rock climbs/tree jumps/cave dives, etc. and when I couldn’t reach him by phone after 2 weeks, I did google him just in case he ended up in an accident and it had been on the news. I didn’t find anything and it turns out he’d just lost his phone inside a wall during a home remodel project and did call me back. I totally get why the OP would do this.

        1. BCW

          Here’s the difference that I see. You didn’t hear from him. The OP actually did talked to the family, and they were cryptic. Meaning she found out he was alive and not in some major accident, but the family didn’t want to tell them what was up. If someone and their family don’t want you in their business, why do you feel its your right to know?

  21. nyxalinth

    I would like to add something: as someone who has been infected in the past with the Google Redirect virus (it redirects you to webpages you weren’t trying to visit, and some of them have even worse viruses on them. the thing is impossible to rid with commercial malware and virus removers and requires a lot of rigmarole to rid) I wanted to say it’s entirely possible it could be a similar case. I wouldn’t put it past the pranksters. At least I hope this is the case. My mom once got redirect to a porn site, which was thankfully normal, consenting pron between adults.

    I guess I’m just hoping it wasn’t done on purpose :(

  22. Elizabeth Brown

    Another thing to keep in mind is that in many jurisdictions, “child pornography” can encompass much more than what our laymen’s minds immediately think of.

    For example, if your boss’s teenage son received a sexy pic from his teenage girlfriend (consensually), and then the son plugged his phone into his dad’s computer and the pic was synced onto that computer, some jurisdictions might consider that “possession of child pornography” until it all (hopefully) got sorted out.

    Definitely get the logistics sorted out but try not to jump to conclusions and try not to fan the flames of jumping to conclusions and stirring up gossip.

  23. Victoria Nonprofit

    Yikes. I’m confused how this thread became primarily devoted to pointing out how the OP might be mistaken.

    1. Calla

      Not even just “you could be mistaken,” but even “sure he might watch child pornography but why are you upset, it’s not like he’s going to hurt *your* kids.” Ugh.

      1. fposte

        Hmm. I’m one of the people who differentiated between the two, and I don’t think that’s a fair representation of my statement. This is obviously an emotionally laden subject, but I think there are nuances and aspects we can differ on without it being suggested that disagreement is the same thing as indifference to pedophilia.

    2. Ruffingit

      I think the thread evolved that way because the OP mentioned feeling “betrayed and disgusted by this man” and then asked if she should tell management and/or the rest of the team.

      Given what she’s said about her feelings of betrayal and disgust, it would seem that she’s already convicted him in her mind. That would then color what she tells the rest of the team if she decided to do so.

      The caution to the OP is that no, you should not convict this man already and therefore tell the rest of your team that he’s a disgusting pedophile when you do not know that to be the truth. If it comes out that he did not in fact do this and it was someone else in his household, someone using his wi-fi connection, etc. then the OP will already have sullied the man’s reputation at work.

      So I think that’s why this thread turned this way. There are many possibilities here of this man being innocent and it would behoove the OP to remember that when thinking about what to do in terms of notifying the team.

    3. fposte

      It’s not all answering the OP’s question, it’s true, but I think a lot of it is talking about the difference between arrest and guilt, which to me is a fair point and is also very different from saying the OP is mistaken.

    4. Escritora

      If you read what the OP wrote, it’s clear the OP was convicting him, sans any evidence. Many people, and the OP appears to be one of them, are ignorant of how someone could be mistakenly arrested in a case like this, so we pointed the ways this is possible. This is precisely the type of crime where we DON’T want ignorant people getting a bandwagon rolling: You don’t get your reputation back.

      The OP absolutely needs to be skeptical of what they think they know, until they know more concrete details. There is no harm to the OP, or anyone else, if the OP suspends judgment and allows caution to prevail. There IS harm to the accused if he’s innocent and the OP let’s emotions rule. YMMV.

    5. Anne_A

      There seems to be a lot of apologia in the room tonight.

      Something similar happened to a senior employee at a former workplace of mine, when pictures of under-age girls were discovered on his work computer by one of our IT department. I don’t know if he was ever charged and put on trial, but he was let go from the company.

      I think AAM’s advice here is spot-on; speak to your manager’s boss, who is presumably your default-manager for the moment, explain that you discovere this information on line and, while you’re sure that the company is working on how to address this, there is a risk that others will find the same info you did and you would like to know how to address this.

      It’s really in their best interest to make some kind of announcement at least to your manager’s team, if not the company as a whole but they may have a longer timeline in mind than is realistic, or may not realise that the information is out there and accessible to your coworkers.

      This information WILL be found by other employees, and it’s better to have it properly addressed by management than to have rumours running rife through the office.

    6. Anonymous

      Yeah. I thought I would see advice for the OP, not a lot of “don’t be so quick to judge.”

      I think judging people who might be pedophiles is understandable.

  24. The person with the bad boss

    UPDATE: I did tell his boss and I was actually upset with their response. They held an emergency conference call for the rumors to stop. The problem is what I found wasn’t a rumor, it was his case file (public record). I stumbled on it when I thought if he got arrested (I was thinking a “wrong place, wrong time” type thing) then there would be a hearing date or something like that. I happened to find all of the public documents relating to the case. I read it all just because I couldn’t believe it was him or it couldn’t be true. The documents included motions made by his lawyer and made by the government, as well as orders from the judge assigned to the case. The one motion made by the government for him to be detained for the pre-trial period (aka bail hearing stuff) had pretty damning stuff. They said his full name, where he lived at the time of the search warrant and where he lives now and where his family lives. We all knew that info so there’s no way it’s a different person. The part that makes me believe that all or majority of this is true is because the FBI was the one the conducted the investigation which they spent many months going through the computers they confiscated and building their case. They also had quotes from my boss when he was questioned at the time of the search warrant and when he was eventually arrested. What they quoted was disturbing to say the least. I can’t imagine that the FBI would lie about any of this or even mistakingly put this in legal court documents. Knowing all this for the past week, I’ve gotten over the shock, but again I’m upset that my company wants to push this under the rug in case of a PR nightmare. I understand that, I worry about that too. However I feel we should be prepared in case we are questioned by the media or our customers if it does come to light. They don’t even want to hear what exactly I read so they know its not a rumor. They kind of shut me out quickly, but of course with professionalism. Another thing I’m upset about is the fact they didn’t offer support. I feel betrayed by this man. Also to respond to a few comments… He worked out of his home and visited us on a regular basis. So when they did their search warrant it really only needed to be at his house. He kept nothing at our offices. We probably will never hear from they FBI, US attorney or his lawyer. My only concern is the media that tend to camp out at courthouses waiting for cases like this for a “good story”. Thanks everyone for the comments and support. It’s great that strangers are so helpful. It sucks that its more support than the company that writes my paychecks.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Hmmm. Without knowing more details about the specifics of their reaction, it’s possible that it was appropriate. It not unreasonable to request that people not gossip about it (I realize you weren’t gossiping, just alerting them, but that would be a reasonable request in general), and it’s not really their role to offer support, per se, to employees on this. I wouldn’t necessarily expect that from any company in this situation.

      (Also, he’s innocent until proven guilty, and they’re walking a fine line in that regard.)

    2. The person with the bad boss

      Side note: After reading through all of the comments and not just Allison’s, I wanted to clear a few things. They mentioned in the motion that he admitted to downloading and sharing videos. And the major betrayal came from not only being around our children (thankfully, never alone) but also by the following… Last year, my boss asked for my recommendation for him to adopt a boy. I agreed because I thought he was good person, financially stable, just not great with the ladies, therefore was a lonely guy. After reading the motion, the vast majority of files found were of “pre-pubescent boys”. THANKFULLY, the adoption never went through. I was actually never contacted by the adoption agency. I wondered about it a couple months after he asked me and he said he decided not to because he worked too much. After reading the motion I found that he had lied to me. The motion had a side note saying that the FBI shut down the adoption process. Yes, I know I was quick to “convict” in my mind, but it was too specific to be at least not partially true. And yes I know I was “snooping” as someone basically put it, but I was worried. I cared for him, someone like him doesn’t fall off the face of the earth. I honestly thought he was arrested, but for an accident. I used to yell at him all the time for texting and driving and I thought he got arrested for vehicular manslaughter or something along those lines, which I could imagine the family would be cryptic and embarrassed for that too. But, with something like that, I would have been there for him as a friend, like he was. A part of me is sorry for “snooping”, because I definitely did not like what I found, but I’m glad I found out that way verses the possibility of hearing it on the news, or worse, from a customer. Also, a few threads mentioned IT problems that could have gotten him arrested. Aside from him being quoted of him admitting the possession, he lived alone and was very computer savvy, which also made me believe that portion wasn’t a mistake. I know it sounds like he’s guilty in my head, but I can’t see any “out” for him.

      1. Lynne in AB

        How awful. I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but this sounds so damning, I can’t see a way for him not to be guilty either. Thank goodness that adoption process was terminated before it got anywhere.

      2. Del

        I’m very glad to hear the adoption process didn’t get anywhere! I agree – it’s very hard not to mentally convict when the situation looks like this.

  25. Eileen k

    Not all child porn involves actual children anymore. There is computer animated child porn now. Not sure how to feel about that.

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