board member’s husband should not attend an event for children, boss calls people names, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Our board member’s husband should not attend an event for children

I work for an advocacy nonprofit and we are in a delicate situation with the spouse of a board member and organization co-founder, Beth.

A few months ago, Beth’s husband, Tom, was arrested on possession of child pornography charges. In the statement released by law enforcement, they stated that there were currently no accusations or evidence to suggest that Tom had physically abused children. At the time, we received an anonymous message about the charges through our contact page, so we removed some incidental photographs of Tom from our website, but no further action was taken because he is otherwise uninvolved with the organization.

Now we are in the process of planning our annual family conference and reached out to board members to see who was planning to attend. All our board members or their children are members of the interest group we serve, so they and their families are highly encouraged to attend the conference. However, we were surprised that Beth’s RSVP included her husband, given his current legal situation. Our conference is explicitly aimed at family participation and includes a large number of children. Most of us feel uncomfortable having him attend but are unsure what our legal and ethical responsibilities are regarding someone who has not yet been convicted of a crime. Our main priority is to protect families and their trust in our organization, but Beth is a valued member of our organization and we don’t want to alienate her and her children during a difficult time any more than necessary. There is no point that Tom would be alone or unsupervised with children other than his own and his attendance would be as a participant, not as a leader or organization representative, but his attendance doesn’t sit well with me. Our team is very small and inexperienced at nonprofit management and we don’t have an HR or legal department. What are our responsibilities in this situation and how do we best guide this conversation with Beth?

Beth is putting the organization she co-founded in a position she shouldn’t be putting it in! You’re right to think this is a huge problem.

However, this shouldn’t be your problem to solve because this is very much a board thing to handle. Talk to whichever member of the board you most trust to handle this well, explain your concerns, and ask them to intervene. This is very much board stuff, they’re the ones who have standing to address it, and the other board members should hopefully realize that their responsibilities as stewards of the organization mean they cannot knowingly allow someone who is currently facing charges for child sexual abuse imagery to attend a conference of families and children. They are the ones best positioned to talk to Beth about it, and the staff should ask them to.

2. Can I ask coworkers not to stare over my shoulder when I’m fixing their computer?

I’m a teacher, as well as the unofficial “tech guy” for my school. The official tech people are in another building, so people tend to ask me for help with computer issues before submitting a work order. I love this role, and I can confidently say I can solve just about any basic computer issue, which really takes the pressure off the official IT guys (my first year here a teacher demanded they stop installing a computer lab in another school so they could look at her desktop, which turned out not to be plugged in).

The problem is that teachers often feel they have to stand right there with me, staring over my shoulder as I work. This makes me nervous, as I feel like I’m performing for an audience. I’ve had no actual technical training so a lot of what I do is trial and error and googling, and I feel like I appear incompetent when I can’t find the solution in five minutes. I’ve tried things like “feel free to work on something else” or “this may take a while, I’ll let you know when I’m done,” but that doesn’t always work. They stand there behind me. Staring. Is there a polite way to tell someone to buzz off while I figure out why their electronic whiteboard won’t connect to their laptop?

Yes! A few options, depending on what works for you:

* “I can never work with someone standing right there — give me some space and I’ll see what I can do!”
* “I can’t work with an audience, but I’ll let you know when I’m done.”
* “I have a pretty big personal space bubble! Can I move you over there?”
* “Having you standing over me makes me nervous! Go get a coffee or something and I’ll let you know when it’s fixed.”
* “This is going to be trial and error and I’ll be self-conscious with you standing there! Give me about X minutes on my own here and then come back and I should have it fixed.”

3. How to get feedback as a manager

I’m a manager with a couple of years of supervisory experience. My team generally seems to like my supervision and were very excited to have me back after a recent maternity leave; and my supervisor has told me I’m exactly the right support for a couple of my team members. One of my employees tells me regularly that he appreciates my feedback and I always am insightful about what he needs to work on.

I regularly ask my team for feedback about my supervision and do my best to integrate that feedback into my interactions, but I also know that due to power dynamics it is uncommon for people to give their bosses really hard feedback. I’m sure there are things about me as a supervisor that my team would like to change because that’s true of just about everyone, even when they really like their boss! How do I get real feedback from my team?

The biggest thing is to create a culture where people will feel safe delivering messages that might be hard to hear, or even unpleasant to hear. You do that by demonstrating repeatedly over a sustained period of time that you genuinely welcome and even encourage dissent, you don’t shoot the messenger, you own your mistakes and you acknowledge when you’re wrong, course-correct when needed, and don’t favor the people who rarely criticize you or your ideas. (Here’s more on that.)

Once you have that culture — and it takes a while to build — you can try explicitly drawing people out with questions that are more targeted than just “how am I doing?” For example: “What’s one change I could make that would improve your quality of life or make your job easier?” … “What’s one thing you’d like me to keep doing and one thing you’d like me to experiment with changing?” … “What are some ways I can make you feel more appreciated/supported/empowered in your job?”

Even so, though, there will be some people who will still never give you truly candid feedback, no matter what you do. As a manager, you’ve got to assume there’s stuff you’re not hearing — and make sure you’re also doing your own reflections on how things are going.

Read an update to this letter

4. My manager yells and calls people names

My manager yells at employees with the door open, using profanity to get his point across. It always seems to happen when things don’t go his way. He also talks with various managers again with his door open or in their adjoining hallway about politics, and call those who don’t view his politics the same, stupid or just idiots. This even trickles into meetings we have as a team. I just need to know if this is harassment?

It’s not harassment in the legal sense of the word. To be illegal, harassment needs to be based on your race, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), religion, national origin, age if you’re 40 and up, disability, or genetic information (including family medical history).

However, it’s certainly harassment in the colloquial, non-legal sense of the word. Your boss sounds abusive. Any chance there’s someone above him who would care if it’s brought to their attention?

my boss yells and is abusive

5. Do recruiters and/or hiring managers have read receipts on their emails?

It recently occurred to me that applicant tracking systems probably collect analytics, and that might include whether someone has opened an email. Are recruiters looking at whether someone has opened their emails? What about hiring managers?

No sane recruiter or hiring manager is paying attention to whether someone has opened an email (because of the amount of time it would take, because those trackers aren’t reliably accurate and some mail programs block that tracking, and because it’s just not a priority with everything else that matters in hiring).

should you use return receipts on emails to hiring managers?

{ 439 comments… read them below }

  1. Cheshire Cat*

    LW1, please follow Alison’s advice. If your clients find out that you’ve knowingly allowed someone who’s been arrested for possession of child pornography to attend any event of your organization’s, they will leave you in droves and the org’s reputation may be permanently ruined.

    I’m aware that arrest does not equal guilt, but until/unless the charges are dropped or Tom is acquitted you can’t risk the damage this could cause.

    1. Stitch*

      Law enforcement released a statement here. That means the public is easily aware of the pending charges. His presence there could easily cause a large amount of harm to the organization.

      As a parent myself there’s no way I’d be okay with an organization that allowed this. Absolutely no way.

      1. allathian*

        I agree. Innocent until proven guilty is essential for a functioning, democratic justice system, but that only extends to law enforcement. But given that he was arrested for possession of child pornography, he should definitely be kept away from all kids (including his own, if Beth had any sense).

        I’m really not seeing Beth’s value as a contributor here, and you should definitely be prepared to lose her. The fact that she’s RSVPd her husband’s attendance shows a severe lack of judgement. Sure, he could easily be her one blind spot, but if she can’t accept that a person who’s been arrested for possession of child pornography should be kept away from all children, and particularly the disadvantaged and possibly neglected and abused ones that the organization is serving, should be reason enough to give her the boot.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Images of child sexual abuse is one of those things where someone who is innocent should hold their hands up and accept that nobody will want them near their children until they’re acquitted (and hopefully in such a decisive way that it was obvious a massive mistake had been made.) Someone whose attitude is, “Yes I’ve been charged, but until I’ve been convicted I’m OK around your kids!” is someone who just really doesn’t understand some very basic stuff.

          1. scandi*

            Exactly. If he had any sense, he would have turned down the invitation (“prior engagement, sorry”) and made sure it was well known he wasn’t planning on attending simply to avoid creating an unnecessary incident. This draws attention to the police investigation, which, regardless of whether he did it or not, is categorically bad for both him and his wife.

          2. Irish Teacher*

            Honestly, the fact that he would attend raises red flags for me. I would think that somebody innocent accused of something like that would both realise that other people are not likely to want them around their children until charges are dropped (and that in this case, he is risking harm to his wife’s professional reputation) and that he is potentially putting himself at risk. A parent could well feel he is standing too close to their child or think he is looking too closely at their child and make a complaint that wouldn’t look good for him even if the parent were completely mistaken.

            It could be just incredibly poor judgement on his part, but I would be concerned that if he is guilty, he is looking for a chance to make contact with children and possibly begin grooming them.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Yeah, this is kind of my instinct too. I don’t necessarily think that wanting to come to something like this means they’re going to start trying to groom children, but it definitely suggests they are trying to down-play the seriousness of the charges and that it’s all a bit of an overreaction.

              I don’t think it’s entirely fair because I think someone can definitely be innocent of actual child abuse but also kind of a dipshit and centre their own wounded innocence over that of actual children– which is, as I say, dipshitty but not in a criminal way– but I do think that a general principle of, “we appreciate this sucks for you, but the priority is keeping children safe, not making you feel better” is the one to go with.

              1. Littorally*

                Yeah, I don’t think it really says anything about his innocence/guilt so much as his utter lack of self-awareness. “But I didn’t do it so there’s no reason I wouldn’t be welcome!” is a perfectly possible, albeit profoundly wrong, reasoning.

                1. Neddy Seagoon*


                  I could see him thinking ‘I didn’t do it and these charges are BS and there’s no reason I shouldn’t attend and anyone who says otherwise is a person whose opinion is worthless’ or ‘if I stay away my enemies will see it as proof of my guilt’ or something along those lines. It’s pretty self-centered even if you really ARE innocent, but when you’re drowning its hard to realize that other people have needs and concerns too. Beth may think (rightly or not) that her husband is innocent and back him up too.

                  None of this matters to OP. The blunt truth is that you cannot allow him to attend an event involving kids. Full stop. The legal liabilities are staggering – this thread alone is clear proof you knew about the charges. You are not the cops and can’t carry out an investigation of your own, but no one will blame you for telling him to stay away until sentence is passed.

                  My strong advice would be to have a quiet word with Beth and say, flatly, that her husband will not be allowed to attend and this is the one chance she has to withdraw him quietly. (You may also want to question Beth’s judgement in general, but that’s a different matter right now). If she refuses, tell them they are formally trespassed (banned) from the event and wash your hands of them.

              2. GrooveBat*

                I’m not 100% sure what you’re saying here. But consuming child pornography *is* child abuse. It aids and abets (and pays) those who commit the abuse; essentially, it sponsors the abuse. Not sure the fact that someone is not physically touching the child really makes that much of a difference. I’d classify it as evil, not “dipshitty.”

                1. RJ*

                  My understanding is they are saying the guy could be innocent of the charges of CSA images but still be a dipshit by putting himself first & playing down the seriousness of the charges by going to this event and making everyone uncomfortable.

                2. bamcheeks*

                  Oh gosh, no, I’m not saying that at all! I see how the confusion arose, but when I said “innocent of actual child abuse”, I was including looking at images of CSA as child abuse.

                  What I meant was that it’s tempting to think that someone who was innocent would behave impeccably — immediately recuse themselves from contact with children, and place children’s safety above their own feelings, and that if someone doesn’t do that, I’m minded to think that’s evidence of a guilt. But I actually recognise that’s unfair, because they could be innocent of criminal activity (and I am very much including looking at images of CSA as criminal activity) but still centre themselves and brush off other people’s concerns about child safety.

                  “Dipshitty” refers to someone who had been wrongly charged with downloading/ looking at images of CSA– as in, they hadn’t done that at all– but then still wants to be allowed to carry on life as normal and be around children because *they* know they’re innocent and they don’t see why anyone else’s concerns or proper safeguarding procedure should matter.

            2. Wintermute*

              I don’t think you can draw any conclusions. There’s a legal concept called “consciousness of guilt” which basically says “acting guilty” can be used against you– which in a case like this can cause some difficult catch-22 situations where you realize that any reasonable person wouldn’t want you to go on as if nothing had changed but radically changing your behavior may be used against you.

              1. Ellie*

                To me, ‘acting guilty’ would be to continue to hang around children. If I was unjustly accused of this horrible crime, the first thing I would do would be to make sure I was never alone with a child again. I’d also get my husband to talk to our children about it, and make it clear to them that they can always tell him or their grandparents, or their teacher, etc. if anything ever bothers them. You fight charges by being scrupulously honest and above-board, not by continuing on exactly as you were before.

                Beth should absolutely have rsvp’d for herself alone. The fact she hasn’t shows terrible judgement. But its possible her husband didn’t want to come (and actually won’t turn up) and this is coming from her and not him.

          3. The legal system sucks*

            Let’s be honest. Even if they’re acquitted, there are people who won’t trust them.
            Innocent people sometimes get charged and their lives are ruined.

            1. High Score!*

              He hasn’t been acquitted yet. While I’m firmly in the camp of innocent until proven guilty, in the case of crimes like this, it is more important to protect children than it is to allow accused child molesters hang out with them.

                1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                  Same. I’d be curious to know whether the husband knew about the RSVP or if it was all Beth. But it doesn’t change the ultimate advice.

              1. Nomic*

                I feel like I’m nit-picking here, but he hasn’t been accused of child molestation, only of being in possession of child porn (which is bad enough).

                He should still stay away from events — fair or not there’s a cloud over his head and his presence can only harm the organization.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  that it’s child porn would actually bother me as well.
                  He’ll have his phone with him–will he take pictures of the kids?
                  People who view child porn are also capable of getting sexual gratification from general images of a child, and I wouldn’t want my kid, or the kids connected to this organization, to end up getting passed around.

                2. Hannah Lee*

                  Yes, this is a man who is/was/was accused of being willing to seek and get person gratification at the expense of vulnerable people, at the expense of children. Just that alone there means he’s not someone who can be trusted to not exploit any opportunity to do the same again.

                  Add to that, even if he’s innocent, while the charges are pending, the organization’s responsibility to protect their clients and provide a safe environment for children in all interactions AND protect the reputation of the organization so they can continue to provide services complete override the co-founder’s desire to have her husband as her +1 and the fact that she doesn’t realize that is unsettling and calls into question her overall judgement.

            2. The Rules are Made Up*

              And honestly even then…. there’s different kinds of “innocent/not guilty” and they don’t all mean “he didn’t do it” some mean “well he did it but he didn’t mean to/he’s mentally ill/it was *technically* not porn etc etc so on and so forth. So yeahhhh unless he’s innocent like someone planted it on his computer to frame him in some elaborate scheme, or like one of their kids was sending nudz to a boyfriend/girlfriend using his computer or something, I still wouldn’t want him near children.

          4. JSPA*

            This. That’s how I’d frame it to the board, and include that there’s already been anonymous blow-back on your phone lines (that is, people do notice).

            There is no way he can avoid having kids in his line of sight while at such an event; there is no way that people who see his eyes pointed at their kids, won’t feel a sick feeling in their stomach. And if he has his cell phone in hand…ugh.

            This is true even if he’s just looking at his phone to check the time, or looking to his left to see the hot dog stand.

            And it’s true even if those same people would be OK withholding judgement in the abstract, or in a different (all adults) circumstance like a black-tie gala.

            It’s true even if (in a startling twist) it later turns out that the supposed porn was family pictures of him and his siblings from his own childhood.

            However, OP1, you’re not in a position to save the organization. And it may not be saveable, if his money and his encouragement were behind Beth starting it, or if he’s engaged in direct depredation upon the clientelle.

            Too bleak? Well, it would not be the first time (and I speak here from family experience) that someone helped bankroll a project or organization so as to have the object(s) of their desire reliably before their eyes.

            OP1 should be checking other jobs. It’s way to early to know the full extent of the problem. Too early to know whether there’s the will, money or even valid reason to save this particular organization (as opposed to supporting some other that will do the same good work, minus potential behind-the-scenes creepiness). Too early to know if the board can get past, “but we know him, he’d never do that” and have that conversation with Beth. Too early to know if Beth will pick the org or her husband, if it comes down to that, and whether the org will survive with Beth gone (or with Beth plus husband staying and participating).

            I tried to think of something he could legitimately do, that would have him under adult eyes and not on the same side of the table as kids, ever, and asked, “is there a way for this to be not-creepy for people?” From being the target in the dunking booth (no) to helping direct traffic in the parking lot (no) to flipping burgers (no) there was just no way. “at a picnic table acting like everything’s normal” was a Hell No.

            If this was a 99% adults event with a kid or two in attendence, then sure. He has the right to participate in society, unless and until convicted. But there is no way he’s doing anyone–including himself–a favor, by coming to a family event.

            1. Super Fun*

              It takes A LOT for law enforcement and three-letter agencies to get involved with stuff like this. There’s not enough manpower (or interest) to pursue creeps who have a handful of old family photos or some vintage “art” shots on their computers. Don’t go googling if you ever want to sleep again, but these guys need to have an astounding volume of this stuff before anything is done. That was one of the key takeaways of the Josh Duggar case – he had stuff that I know the name of but don’t know what’s on them because I know I’ll never scrub it from my brain.

              So if this dude has been arrested, he likely has more stuff that anyone realizes, and it’s probably definitive beyond what you would hope for the sake of the children.

              1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

                It’s also an area where there is less likelihood for a mistake. It’s not a case built on eyewitness statements and circumstantial evidence–they found illegal material on HIS computer. The only “accident” really possible is that it belonged to someone else with access to his computer.

                1. A CAD Monkey*

                  I had a friend go through this. kiddie porn was found on his computer. for a year his life was a living hell, but he was exonerated by the fbi’s own forensic analysis. someone hacked into and used his computer for storage. during this time, he had to have supervised visits with his 1yr old child, wear an ankle bracelet, wasn’t allowed within 500ft of schools/playgrounds. he was guilty in the eyes of the DA trying the case and was treating him as if he had already been convicted. DA didn’t want to drop the case even after the fbi proved he was innocent.

                  I say this show that the husband might be in a similar situation as my friend was, but beth and tom also need to realize until this situation is dealt with, they can’t just continue as if everything is fine and there are no charges pending

                2. DJ Abbott*

                  @CAD Monkey and all others- this is why we have to take precautions at all times against hacking, phishing, and any kind of infiltration.
                  Don’t log into things with your Google or Facebook password. Don’t share your password. If you get weird emails from foreign countries under the impression you opened a bank account there, or any other indication of activity you didn’t initiate, change your email password right away. Shut down and unplug your computer when not using it. Take all precautions, there is no such thing as being too cautious when it comes to this.

              2. oranges*

                Exactly. DO NOT let “has not yet been convicted of a crime” stop you from keeping this man away from your event.

                He’s innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but an arrest for this type of crime, being talked about by these law enforcement agencies, is more than enough to meet the threshold to kick him out of this.

              3. JSPA*

                “Very guilty” is the way to bet, but for the sake of argument (rhetoric being a legitimate art) I’m covering all bases.

                It’s not impossible, even in this day and age. Live in a small town, or be the wrong person relative to local opinions, and the calculus can change. Or if your little kid skips the context while telling their teacher some details about going for Sauna while on vacation in Finland, or those bathtub pictures of your granddad and uncle, I’m pretty sure that followup is mandated.

                But yeah, this doesn’t sound like something innocent from the family album.

                Still, as someone who’s received unwanted dick pix, been rick-rolled plenty, been goatse’d, been signed up for gross websites and newsletters as retribution for political activism, I want to leave a little bit of space for, “I never asked for any of this.”

              4. Cat Tree*

                The Josh Duggar case also shows that it’s not very meaningful that man OP wrote in about was only arrested for CSAM and not physically harming children. Josh Duggar abused children but he was still a minor when he did it and wasn’t charged for that.

                Many criminals do both but the physical abuse is often harder to prove, so the authorities focus on the CSAM.

                1. Super Fun*

                  Exactly. I don’t want to belabor this, but we’ve been talking about pictures when it’s very likely that there are also videos, at the very least.

              5. Random Dice*

                Exactly. This isn’t, like, one bathtub photo of a kid. This is a volume of images that involve raping kids.

              6. Reluctant Mezzo*

                My son got a computer from a rent to own place which had not been wiped. As soon as he saw what was on it, he rushed the computer back to the store and let them know what the problem was. The date stamps on the files let the owners know who did have the computer at those times and law enforcement was called in. My son was ever so pleased to get a replacement computer which had been properly wiped.

                1. Vio*

                  I was helping someone recover some lost data once when we discovered that his second hand hard drive had previously been used to store some pretty extreme and disturbing content based on the file names. Fortunately none of it looked to be actually illegal, but it was certainly disturbingly violent. Fortunately I was already aware that it was second hand and didn’t have to worry about whether or not his shock was genuine.

            2. Me80*

              I am a professional fundraiser and I can guarantee you that ALL of your finders will walk if they learn that your organization is this cavalier with the safety of children.

              This may be the self-interest push your board needs to have the hard conversation.

            3. LoJo*

              I’ve pointed this out a few times, but Jerry Sandusky and Jared Fogle “donated” millions to their foundations that provided support to at-risk-youths. They’re both serving multiple lifetimes in prison for the possession and distribution of child porn. They both were also guilty of far more heinous crimes. Again, they set up and funded these non-profits for their own sick manipulations.

              1. Boof*

                Yeah – if the dude is innocent; well sucks but hopefully he can deal with missing some parties / staying away from kids until fully exonerated because why push it??! (I know sometimes rules like don’t live or go within x distance of a school or playground can be actually be pretty difficult to adhere to in some places, but for this letter we’re talking about a social event; just lay low and focus on your case dude – or maybe his wife’s trying to do some kind of “LOOK I STAND BY HIM” think who knows, but don’t). If the dude’s guilty – well it’s extra creepy he’s trying to go to family events, especially in a position of power, definitely could be part of grooming habits.

          5. LoJo*

            I posted this below but think it’s an extremely important point. Someone needs to scream and yell until this board listens. I would seriously drive home the point that the organization represents and/or supports at-risk-youths and families. So often child predators take advantage of this unbalanced power dynamic. Example: Jerry Sandusky and Jared Fogle. Both were involved with children advocacy groups. Both were convicted of hoarding and distributing child pornography (as well as other horrible actions against minors).

          6. Vio*

            It’s truly an awful thing to be accused of and I can imagine a false accusation to be absolutely hell. BUT as bad as it is, no even halfway decent parent is going to feel safe having somebody near their kids who has that accusation hanging over them. I can’t even imagine how I would react if I faced such an accusation. I would hope that I could put my personal hurt aside and understand how much of a pariah I would become as being people making the right decision to prioritise child safety over my own feelings. Being married to somebody facing that accusation has to be comparably bad as well. Do you support your spouse, who you presumably trust completely, or do you take your children away from them even though you know* them to be absolutely safe and how it makes your spouse look even worse… it’s a no win situation and it’s easy as an outsider to say that the kids safety takes precedence but nobody in that situation is going to be clear headed enough to be making good decisions. If the accused is guilty then they’ve likely been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes for a long time and gotten very, very good at it. If they’re innocent then they’re faced with the often impossible task of proving a negative.

            But there is absolutely no way they should be attending such events. I’m sure they’d be tempted to provide a demonstration of what passes for normal, a gesture of defiance against those who demand they be ashamed of falling under suspicion… but there are probably better ways to do that.

            *Or rather, think you know. But we never know that we don’t know what we know… if you know what I mean…

        2. EPLawyer*

          If he is even out after arrest I am betting his pre-trial release conditions are NOT BE AROUND CHILDREN. It might say unsupervised. But at a conference, unless his wife is glued to his side (and would she report a violation ANYWAY?) there is no guarantee of him being completely supervised at all times.

          I get it Beth is a cofounder. She is also probably trying to hold on to some sense of normalcy while her world crumbles. In which case, she needs to step back because she is not making good decisions right now.

          BTW, see the case of Josh Duggar. Once he was arrested, he had to go live with someone else because his family could not be trusted to report any violations. He could only see his kids if he was never unsupervised.

        3. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I agree that Beth thinking it’d be ok to bring her husband to the event shows a serious lack of judgement on her part. Someone else on the board really needs to address that with her and if she gets defensive about it, the org should be prepared to lose her as a board member. No matter how valuable Beth is, she obviously can’t be more important than the reputation and legal responsibilities of the org itself.

          Am I the only one here who thinks that this org does need to at least consult with a lawyer? I don’t think there’s any need to press charges or doing anything formal through a lawyer, but a brief conversation with a lawyer certainly wouldn’t hurt. (I was under the impression that all non-profits should at least have a lawyer to consult with on all kinds of issues but I honestly don’t know how that all works. I would think this would be doubly so for any org that deals with children.)

          1. Observer*

            Am I the only one here who thinks that this org does need to at least consult with a lawyer?

            Yes. I mentioned it. They should most definitely have a lawyer conversation. Because at minimum, they need to understand their potential exposures here.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              I mentioned in another comment too that I’m surprised any org that deals directly with children doesn’t have a lawyer at all, because kids and their lives are supremely complicated and you don’t want to mess up any kids’ lives by not knowing the legal implications of what you are doing. OP said they don’t have HR or a legal dept, but surely they have consulted with a lawyer even just when they were starting the org, right?

              1. anonymous 5*

                …yeah. I may be naive here, but I can’t imagine any org not having at least *some* kind of go-to legal channel. Especially one that focuses on kids.

                1. Jaydee*

                  IAAL and can 100% imagine this. Many non-profits are small, volunteer-run, and don’t have much of a budget. Heck, a lot of for-profit businesses that are small enough not to have in-house legal counsel are reluctant to seek outside legal advice because of the expense. Now, a lot of non-profits try to get around this by having a lawyer or two on their board. And to some extent that can help. If the board is making decisions, the lawyer’s legal expertise can help them raise possible issues or encourage one course of action over another. The lawyer on the board can act as kind of a screener for situations where maybe the organization *should* engage with legal counsel. But lawyers still have to be careful to be clear with themselves and their fellow board members about when they are a “board member who happens to be a lawyer” versus when they are the company’s lawyer who happens to also be on the board. Because there are different standards of conduct expected in each of those situations.

                  That said, sometimes paying a couple hundred bucks for an hour of a lawyer’s time is money well-spent. I really wish people weren’t so averse to that idea.

                2. 1LFTW*

                  Chiming in to confirm Jaydee’s take. Small non-profits, man… let’s just say I’ve known some ED’s whose operating model is “we’re too small for regulators to come after us, which means I can do whatever I want, and a lawyer might tell me I can’t”.

          2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            I don’t follow what it is they would need to consult with a lawyer about. Tom doesn’t work there. I’m not sure what legal impediment there would be to not inviting him to an event. Though I’m inferring from what LW wrote that Tom doesn’t have any role in the organization. If I’m wrong on that, it does change things.

            1. LilPinkSock*

              My guess would be understanding what the org’s liability would be in knowingly having someone accused of this crime at their events, creating policies to protect children and families affiliated with the org, and developing a response if/when it comes up in the media, from the community, from donors, etc.

            2. Observer*

              For starters are they even allowed to have at the event? Are they technically allowed, but it opens them to liability? Given that Beth RSVP’ed for him, what does that mean for her ability to make certain decisions?

              Or more generally, as the OP says “What are our responsibilities in this situation “? There are moral obligations, but there are also legal obligations.

              Beyond the direct situation, it appears that the organization needs to get some policies in place in general. They serve children – how are they making sure that they are not being a conduit for abuse? How are they making sure that they are complying with all relevant laws and regulations? Often we laugh about people who jump to “legal” when it’s simply a matter of sensible management and clear communications. Here we have a classic case where they should have been asking about legalities, but it doesn’t even get mentioned till the end, pretty much as a throwaway.

        4. Here we go again*

          Innocent until proven guilty is for legal purposes.
          As a parent if you even suspected just a tiny bit that someone hurt children, it’s your responsibility to keep your kids as far away from them as possible.
          As an organization he should be banned from the premises until the courts sort it out.

        5. Temperance*

          It’s necessary in a court of law. That is where it ends.

          Here’s the thing about CP. You don’t get charged unless you -have- it. Investigations into that are really in-depth before you get arrested. They don’t just accuse you out of nowhere.

        6. Reality.Bites*

          Innocent till proven guilty, but the acquittal rate for those charges is staggeringly low. When they find that stuff on your device because they traced a download, there’s no real defence.

        7. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          100% agree with your first point, allathian. The presumption of innocence is for the court system. It’s vital to have protections in place when the consequences include jail time or even execution. Regular people do not have the obligation to act as though someone is innocent until there is a conviction. Especially for consequences like not being invited to stuff.

          1. sara*

            This. We have strong due process protections — rightly — for serious legal consequences. We don’t (and shouldn’t) for “invited to a party” or “gets to hang out with people.

      2. Artemesia*

        But it really is a board issue. The president of the board if it is not this woman needs to handle this. One can note ‘until this is resolved we really can’t have Fred at our events’ but it needs to be done. the real issue now is what if the Board doesn’t act?

        1. CarlDean*

          Yes, I was very unsatisfied with the advice bc I feel like there is a very high probability that the board will not act. So, then what?

          It also is not clear to me that LW isn’t on the board or otherwise high ranking, so that she would be the person who would need to address this. (Maybe I missed something in letter?).

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yes, since it’s a newer nonprofit it may be a smaller board who are there partly for social reasons, which means they could be unwilling to rock the boat. This probably needs to be a conversation led by the ED with prior legal advice.

          2. BubbleTea*

            If LW isn’t on the board and doesn’t have power to prevent the husband from attending, what exactly would they be able to do? You can’t call the police and say “someone who has been charged but not convicted has said he’s coming to an event he was invited to”. Well, you can, but they won’t do anything.

            1. definitely not a lawyer*

              Depending on what stage the investigation is at by the time the event occurs, he could be violating the terms of his bail (assuming charges are brought against him)

            2. Ellie*

              You can leak the information, and then not go yourself. Which is what I’d do – I’d tell everyone. Give the board one opportunity to do the right thing then go nuclear.

          3. Sylvan*

            I’m hoping and assuming that the board will act — but I’m wondering what the OP should do if they don’t. I don’t know what I would do. Let the police know that he is going to be at an event with children? I have no idea.

            1. Sylvan*

              After reading a few more comments, Sue and Delta Delta have mentioned in that staying away from children is probably a condition of his release, so: contact police.

            2. Clisby*

              I can’t think what the police could do unless there’s some kind of legal order requiring him to stay away from children while the case is pending. (Like, say, if that were a condition for getting bail.)

              1. Sylvan*

                That’s true. I’m not exactly expecting them to show up at the event and haul him away in handcuffs. It’s more like, if you were investigating someone for having CSAM, you would want to know that they continued spending time around kids.

                1. Delta Delta*

                  If he has bail conditions that say no contact with kids, and if he’s seen having contact with kids, they absolutely will cuff him and perp walk him right out. And because cops hate people charged with kid-related crimes (which, understandable), they’ll make a show of it. Pretty sure the org doesn’t want this, either.

            1. Stitch*

              +1. If the Board is cavalier with the safety of children, I’d resign. I’d put my objections in writing in my resignation letter.

          4. bamcheeks*

            Then back the hell away from the organisation. Because if they don’t act in children’s best interests on something as clearcut as this (and it is very, VERY clearcut!), they have no business running events which include children and LW should create an exit route ASAP and ideally whistle-blow to any organisations they work with or authorities which oversee their type of work.

            It’s not *just* this — though this is bad enough!– it’s what it says about the organisation if they don’t have the ability to act in this situation.

        2. to varying degrees*

          I’m wondering if the rest of the board knows that she RSVP’d with her husband as the +1. It sounds like the RSVP went to the office staff so maybe the first step is letting the board know about it and then the LW (and colleagues) can state their concerns.

        3. Observer*

          the real issue now is what if the Board doesn’t act?

          It’s like any other situation where the boss won’t do what they need to do. The OP is going to have to take stock and decide how much they are willing to tolerate and how much of a risk there is to the organization.

          Because ultimately, the OP cannot FORCE the Board to act.

          1. Grammar Penguin*

            OP also has to assess how much risk there is to her own professional reputation. If this reflects so badly on the org that its continued existence is in doubt, what good will it do OP to have this org on her resume?

          2. Random Dice*

            With an anonymous tip to the police, she sure can.

            With a quiet chat with the right folks in the org, she sure can.

      3. Cait*

        I’m curious as to why he’d legally be allowed to attend an event like this at all while a possible conviction is pending. I’m not in law but I would think that, in his current situation, he would be barred from places like public pools, playgrounds, etc. and a conference involving children would qualify as well. I don’t know who would be the right person to ask, but getting an official “yes” or “no” as far as whether he can even lawfully attend would probably help that conversation with Beth.

        1. My heart is a fish*

          Before a trial and conviction, there’s not a ton of restrictions that can be placed on him. If he’s not being held in jail without bond, he’s basically on his own recognizance until the trial.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            I can’t speak for everywhere, but where I live, that’s not the case. There can be pretty strict conditions for someone out on bail. Curfews, not being able to go certain places or contact certain people, not being allowed to have weapons, not being allowed to have unsupervised time on the internet, having to live in a particular place, having to live with a particular person, etc.

        2. Vito*

          I am sure that he did NOT run this by his defense attorney and he might lose his attorney over this.

          I had a co-worker who was arrested for possession of child porn with intent to distribute and I believe as part of his bail was that he was not to be around children or use the internet. He got 5 years and was released in 2017. it was interesting that he was in a company costume in his mug shot.

          1. Temperance*

            When you say “company costume”, do you mean like a mascot suit or a polo with the logo on it?

            1. Vito*

              More than a polo and lass than fur suit. I was working for a real Mickey Mouse company. it was a themed top (short sleeved) and same-colored pants.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I would think his defense lawyer would have a conniption fit if he heard Tom was going to attend.

          If the board hesitated, and I cared, I might find out who his defense lawyer is and drop him a note, even if anonymously.

        4. Banana Pancakes*

          People arrested for possession of CSAM (child serial abuse material) are typically not allowed to leave the state or access the internet, at minimum, so there are some restrictions that can be set prior to trial and sentencing.

      4. WiscoKate*

        Even as a non-parent, I would be horrified to learn that an organization allowed someone arrested for and under investigation for child sexual abuse material was attending an event with children. OP1 – someone else mentioned that as a reporter, if they found out about this it would be their headline. In addition to protecting the children at the event, you should also have a responsibility to protect the integrity of your organization.

        In the best case scenario, that Tom wasn’t accessing CSAM, any reasonable person should understand that someone under that suspicion shouldn’t be attending.

        1. Lalaluna*

          I am not sure about the details based on the letter, but it kind of sounds like Beth probably thinks the organization isn’t aware of the ongoing case against her husband… OP says the company was told anonymously about the charges, so it doesn’t sound like it was a big public announcement within the organization. Yes, the police “released a statement” but I think OP’s org would have had to look up the case/the husband to find it. So, if OP’s org hasn’t already spoken to Beth about her husband, she probably thinks they are unaware of the situation….In that light, if her husband would have normally attended the event she probably RSVP’d that he’d come this year because it’s the “normal” thing she would do – him not attending in “normal” circumstances might raise questions.

          1. Lalaluna*

            *I wanted to add: I think it’s *terrible* judgment on her part because, yeah, he shouldn’t attend. But maybe she’s just trying to preserve appearances and thinks the organization isn’t aware of the situation. (and maybe the husband wouldn’t actually attend on the day of the event – like she’d give an excuse that he was sick – so that he wouldn’t be around children but she could pretend like everything is normal)

          2. WiscoKate*

            I would not be surprised if Beth is just hoping no one knows and going forward with blinders on. It is sadly not uncommon for people to try to sweep this kind of thing under the rug.

            If someone alerted the organization though – they could very well alert others, including major donors, the press, etc. Not to minimize the horror of CSAM and what Tom is accused of participating in, but at least this is something where OP can make an argument for preventing him attending without getting into the whole innocent until proven guilty situation.

            1. Dragon_Dreamer*

              Which would be even worse, if it came out AFTER the fact that she wasn’t honest about the situation, and no one had known.

        2. TootsNYC*

          yeah, the event is being held in order to get positive press coverage of the organization. OK, sure, to benefit the participants as well, but mostly for the positive press.

          if Tom attends, there won’t be any positive press, or it will be totally overshadowed.

      5. Addison DeWitt*

        Yes, think about how a newspaper that doesn’t like your organization could spin this story. What the headline about having a guy who’s been arrested for child pornography at your event with children present would look like. How big the type would be. What phone calls you’ll get that morning from donors and volunteers. How empty the event will be– other than TV news crews.

      6. ferrina*

        Optics is a big factor. The ethics is actually something that LW doesn’t need to wade into- the fact is that people know about Tom’s situation, have contacted the organization about Tom, and if LW’s organization allows Tom at an event with kids it looks really, really bad. A lot of the clients and community members are not going to trust the organization. And that’s outside of Tom’s guilty/not guilty status- even if he’s later acquitted, the damage will still be done.

        So yeah, LW needs to say something. Talk to the board, talk to the CEO, even talk to the head of Marketing (because they are going to need to clean up the mess- they have a vested interest in Tom not being there). Because even with all else aside, optics matter.

        1. GrooveBat*

          Yup. This right here.

          Tom’s not an employee of the organization, and they are free to invite or un-invite anyone.

      7. Dust Bunny*

        I am *not* a parent and I would have serious, support-withdrawing concerns about an organization that allowed him to attend this event.

      8. JessaB*

        Before they charged him they had to find porn. This is not a he said they said issue. He could have been hacked certainly, but as someone charged with this he should be nowhere near the clients of your firm.

        I have a bigger problem with the wife. She knows your clientele, inviting him even when the company did not? It’s worrying. Whether she needs a stern talking to or a thank you for your service, I’m not sure though.

    2. Sue*

      If he has charges pending, he probably has conditions of release that may well prohibit his contact with any children other than his own. This would be a common condition in our courts.
      It would be easy to check on this with the court and a slam dunk for prohibiting his attendance.

      1. BAgpuss*

        I wondered about that . Where I am (UK) it would be fairly normal for there to be bail conditions BUT it may well be that these would be preventing unsupervised contact with children so being at a public event wouldn’t automatically put him in breach, although being in a room alone with a child or children might.

        But I agree that it’s very poor judgment on Beth’s part to consider bringing him under these circumstances.

        I agree that if OP isn’t on the board herself, she needs to raise this with someone who is. If she is on the board then it is appropriate for her to raise it directly with Beth – perhaps on the “I am not asking for any details about the allegations and of course understand that they may be completely unfounded, but given that the charges have been made public, it would be damaging for the organization for him to attend, it makes it appear that we are comfortable putting other people’s children at risk, and it could also be damaging for him as it could be perceived as his seeking to be around other people’s vulnerable children”.

        Framing it that way might be more successful as it suggests that it is for his own benefit as much as that of the organization, so if Beth believes he is innocent and is taking an ‘innocent until proven guilty so he should just behave as normal until this is resolved’ approach, it gives her a way to agree to disinvite him without having to accept the possibility of his guilt or that others would reasonably see this as a major concern.

        I think if OP is on the board and Beth is not willing to agree to leave him at home, OP needs to call an urgent board meeting and consider whether she wants to publicly distance herself from decision if they are not prepared to ban him.

      2. Delta Delta*

        Yep. Longtime criminal defense lawyer here. This was my first thought. And if he shows up, someone’s probably within their right to contact law enforcement to note he’s having contact with kids.

    3. ProcessMeister*

      It’s not just the damage to the organisation. If the fact of Tom being charged is public knowledge, he’d be facing all sorts of public shaming. And if he turns out to be completely innocent, it’d be incredibly difficult for him and the people shaming him to put it all behind them. Better for him to remain invisible, have his day in court and to keep both himself and others safe from doing anything they’d regret.

    4. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I wonder if Beth’s husband RSVP’d for her, and/or pressured her to let him come. She could, of course, be deep in the FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt) with a messed up normal meter, but it’s possible he’s more controlling than anyone realizes.

    5. Ugh..No*

      Agreed. I had a close family friend that did something incredibly similar. Even going to an event like this would look really bad for Tom when he goes to trial. When my family friend went to trial he had to show he was going to support groups, therapy, and other things. He still got sentenced to several years in jail (and rightfully so). I am really shocked Tom and his wife are ok with him going knowing this.

      1. Random Dice*

        This right here.

        You know the anonymous tipster started with notifying the organization, but won’t END with that. There’s only one chance to get this right before the newspapers or Facebook get the full details.

    6. Allornone*

      If her organization receives government funding, it may not even be legal. I work for a non-profit that directly serves youth and will have youth in the building at certain times. Because we get government funds, there are a lot of rules in our contract designed to protect those youth. We had a receptionist, who worked on a floor the kids didn’t have any access to, get arrested for assault and we had to terminate her immediately. Ultimately, the prosecutor declined to move forward with the case, so she was never convicted, but she also certainly didn’t get her job back. We simply weren’t allowed to at risk of our funding being pulled.

      1. Allornone*

        ETA: I used “legal” in my first sentence when that’s not the right word. Maybe just “not allowed without serious consequences to the organization, its contracts, and potential funding?”

      2. Observer*


        Even without government funding, certain types of licensing would mean that Tim would be forbidden to attend, or the organization risks its license.

    7. Velawciraptor*

      It’s also worth remembering that the husband’s conditions of release may require that he not be around anyone under the age of 18 (a pretty common condition in CP cases). Whoever has the conversation with Beth might be able to give her that out–that attending could jeopardize his pre-trial release.

    8. Meep*

      I mean even if those charges are dropped or Tom is acquitted unless someone in the PD wanted to frame him… It is pretty damning on its own. Pedos aren’t capable of changing their stripes. Heck, s*xual abusers aren’t. Within the first year of being released, 81% of then will re-offend on other SA or CP charges. They cannot be rehabilitated. Heck, most murderers are safer than s*x offenders!

      I wouldn’t want anyone even suspected of child abuse to be allowed anywhere near children.

      1. JessaB*

        And honestly in a case like this unless the police planted evidence…I mean to charge child porn, they had to find child porn. This isn’t he said/they said about an assault. You can’t charge possession of x, without actually finding x or information that the person had x in the past.

        1. Ellie*

          The only credible defense is if someone else was using the computer, and whoever was accused was unaware it was there. You’d think with logons and timestamps, that would be an easy thing to determine, but there have been cases where someone was using shared login credentials, someone else knew someone’s password (maybe wasn’t deliberately framing them, but was deliberately making it difficult to trace who was doing it), and another who was stupid enough to store things for another person without ascertaining what was contained in them.

          So its possible he’s innocent, but that all needs to play out in court. They’ll compare the access times with other information like his timetables, meeting times, etc. and see whether it lines up or not. The fact he’s associated with an organisation that supports vulnerable children is a bit of an orange flag on its own. Frankly, if he is acquitted I still wouldn’t let him back in, unless a different person ends up charged over the material.

    9. Mouse in the Maze*

      I have been involved in a similar situation with a nonprofit. LW1, do NOT allow Beth’s husband to attend your events!

      This may seem like a question of Beth and her husband’s bad judgment, but if you do allow him to attend—or even if it comes out that you were THINKING about letting him attend—there will be a large number of people who will hold it against your organization and your whole leadership.

      It’s a judgment question; many will think “If they are cavalier with children’s safety in this case, what else are they doing wrong?” Parents trust organizations with so many decisions: are the staff who work with children trustworthy, is the van safe to drive, do the walls have lead paint, is the playground equipment safe, is there an evacuation plan, etc? If you make them question your judgment in this, they will need to question everything.

    10. LoJo*

      I would seriously drive home the point that the organization represents and/or supports at-risk-youths and families. So often child predators take advantage of this unbalanced dynamic. Example: Jerry Sandusky and Jared Fogle. Both were involved with children advocacy groups. Both were convicted of hoarding and distributing child pornography (as well as other horrible actions against minors).

    11. EmmaPoet*

      Also, the nonprofit didn’t stumble across this information on their own, someone deliberately tipped them off. Someone really wanted them to know. All that person would have to do is announce that the org was informed about the charges but chose to let Tom come to a children-centered event and then provide photos of him attending, or even more damning, someone shows up to confront him during the event. The headlines practically write themselves, because the odds that such a confrontation won’t get filmed and posted is IMO nil.

    12. Ellie*

      All it would take is someone snapping a photograph of him there, and sharing it on social media. Beth might be in denial about the seriousness of the charges, but you need to raise this with the other board members and make them aware of the reputational damage that could come from this. Someone needs to tell Beth that he can’t come.

      Imagine if he tried pulling someone in for a photo? Or just a handshake? Everyone at that event will be in an impossible position, they’ll have to choose between insulting Beth, or breaking bread with a pedophile.

  2. ava*

    Giving it the absolute most sypathetic scenario for Tom, that he was genuinely innocent and this is a misunderstanding, it still makes sense for him not to attend. I would be a bit more conflicted if this was something that could cause him financial harm, like if you were thinking of firing him or something, but not attending one event while under investigation is completely reasonable even if 100% innocent.

    If I were a member of the board Id start by approaching it that way. Pointing out the badlook while framing it as a temporary precaution. especially since, based on her including him, becky is on his side and/or is convinced he is innocent.

    1. Stitch*

      Beth absolutely cannot be in the position of making the call here. Based on my experience working/interning in the field, there are a lot of people who overlook or even defend very seriously horrible things from their spouse.

      1. Observer*

        Even if Beth were 100% capable of being totally impartial (which she’s already shown she’s not), she MUST be recused from the decision making process here. This is the definition of conflict of interest.

        1. Allonge*

          Yes – Beth’s priority may well be (and arguably should be?) her relationship with her husband.

          But that means she cannot be trusted to take into consideration the interests of the org at this time, and should be “asked” (told) to come alone or with someone else, or not attend.

          1. Observer*

            Beth’s priority may well be (and arguably should be?) her relationship with her husband.

            I’m sure that this *is* her priority. But I think it could be hard to argue that is SHOULD be. CSAM is *bad* stuff. And they have kids…

            But that’s not the OP’s or the Organization’s issue. All that belongs to them is her behavior regarding the organization- and she’s shown that she can’t be trusted, at least in this respect.

        2. münchner kindl*

          Which also shows a failure of the board already: the moment the accusation of Beth’s husband was made public, the board should have drafted rules about what areas Beth can no longer work on because of Tom, even if Tom is not directly involved with the organisation.

          1. Adultier adult*

            I am disgusted by the charges but I strongly disagree that Beth’s job should be impacted – she didn’t do anything wrong.

            I do agree he shouldn’t attend-

            1. High Score!*

              Well she’s co-founder, so it’d be tough to impact her job but I disagree with you. She’s fine exposing a potential child molester to children. Who does that?? It absolutely shows bad judgment & should affect her. Note: her husband’s actions that happened without her knowledge should not affect her but her bringing him after his actions are known around children should absolutely affect her.

            2. Observer*

              The issue here is not punishment, but the welfare of the organization and the safety of the children. To take an example, if a bus driver were in an accident that they didn’t cause, but it made them incapable of driving a bus, would you say “This should not impact their job because they did nothing wrong”? I would hope not!

              In this case, it’s even worse. Because in RSVP’ing for her husband, she actually DID do something inappropriate.

              1. Reality.Bites*

                Yeah, I really think the issue here is that Beth needs to be removed from the board entirely. RSVPing was an egregious violation of her responsibilities

            3. Ellie*

              I agree it shouldn’t be impacted if she leaves him. If she doesn’t, he could still have access to the children’s details through her. You can’t just ignore that. No more working from home, for starters.

          2. Askalice*

            What, women/people should be professionally penalized instantly for the (alleged) crimes of their spouses? Have to hard disagree with muncher kindl.
            Toms involvement should be risk assessed by the board because it has an impact on the org now, but it’s a far reach to have to immediately remove Beth upon hearing of the charges.
            The fact she wants to bring him shows poor judgement, but if he stays away from her professional life I think it’s cruel to penalise her.
            The risk changes if the case becomes inflamed by the media or does in fact cross to a conviction. But even if he was convicted and jailed, her job should not be affected. It probably will be, people being people, but it shouldn’t.

            1. Master Procrastinator*

              Firstly, didn’t OP say this is the Board of a small non-profit? I don’t know if it’s different outside of where I am (UK) but charity/non-profit Board members don’t tend to get paid, so it’s not Beth’s job per se. I realise the point about facing consequences for her husband’s actions might still stand regardless, but she is demonstrating extremely poor judgement. As a non-profit Board member, the priorities are keeping the organisation afloat, risk management, publicly representing the organisation and acting in its best interests. I’m struck by Beth and her husband’s poor judgement, but also (as mentioned by Observer) the bad practice of a Board that didn’t require Beth to step back from discussions about how to handle the safeguarding and PR nightmare her husband’s arrest has caused. She has shown that she can’t be impartial, though frankly a sensible Board wouldn’t expect her to be. It’s normal for Board members with a conflict of interests to abstain from/be excluded from making decisions on the subject of the conflict. It happened to me as a frontline volunteer turned Board member when there was a decision to be made about my former Volunteer Manager being made redundant – I would have voted against it based on my relationship with them and not on the best interests of the organisation.

            2. mlem*

              Everyone should recuse themselves from discussions/work tasks for which they have a recognized conflict of interest, yes.

            3. CG*

              I agree that it’s unacceptable to penalize anyone for the behavior of their spouse. However, in this case, Beth has indicated that she wants to bring someone accused of harming children to an event where many children will be present. That’s a decision that *Beth* is making, and it is completely acceptable for her to face professional consequences as a result of that decision. It’s beyond poor judgement at this point: she is putting the children her organization serves at risk, and that absolutely should affect her job.

              1. TomatoSoup*

                Yes. That is where questions about Beth arise. If she hadn’t included him in her RSVP, I don’t think she should be penalized but this poor judgment is something that should be looked at.

            4. Artemesia*

              If this is a children’s charity then my first thought would be that Beth’s founding of it was on behalf of her husband who provided the founding funds — because of his interest in children.

            5. GrooveBat*

              She shouldn’t be penalized for his crimes, but I think it’s entirely fair to penalize her for her lack of judgment, for exposing the organization to bad publicity, and for potentially putting children at risk.

            6. Clobberin' Time*

              It’s cruel to penalize her for…. attempting to bring her charged-with-possession-of-CSAM-husband to an event where children will be present?

            7. Wannessa*

              Everyone responding to this seems to have missed the part where münchner said “the moment the accusation […] was made public” the board should have altered Beth’s role in the org. Yes, obviously Beth has made a really terrible decision with the event. Yes, it makes sense to limit her involvement NOW because her own poor judgment reflects on her. People are pushing back against the idea that her husband being accused ON ITS OWN means that Beth can’t do her job and should be shut out in at least some ways.

            8. münchner kindl*

              No, of course women should not be penalized by the crimes of their spouses.

              And it’s not about removing Beth from leadership because of the accusation.

              But a person in leadership position related to a person accused of a crime directly related to organisation’s mission must follow rules to avoid any conflict of interest.

              Whether that relation is parent-child, sibling, or spousal, is not the question.

              Beth should not have been in a position to choose between her loyalty to Tom and to the charity.

              Now, though, that Beth has shown her loyalty to Tom is more important than the charity sending the clear signal “We protect the children first, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable for adults” she should step down because of that action by her, not by Tom.

              In the past 2 decades, since the widespread abuse scandal first in Catholic Church, then Sandusky, then another scandal etc. have been uncovered, one constant that has turned up:
              adults covered other adults because they cared more about the feelings of other adults than children being harmed if the accusations were true.

              And adults who *don’t* want to harm children understand that rules that protect children ALSO protect adults from false accusation.

              Instead of a 15-year old girl badmouthing her teacher because she wants revenge for a bad grade, and then trying to find out what the truth is, the rule “Never be alone with a child/ pupil behind closed doors” means that the teacher can simply point to the rule and say “I never was alone with her, so her story doesn’t work”.

              Similar, if Tom is not around children in public, nobody can use this against him when the trial starts.

              But putting the feelings of Beth, or Tom if innocent, above the potential of children being harmed, sends a very Bad Signal to everybody who’s watching.

          3. Bagpuss*

            I disagree that they should have made rules about what she could work on – what they should have done was to consider whether they needed to make any rules or provide any guidance to Beth and *his* presence on site, and consider whether she ever has work related material s at home as obviously while anything such as client files or other information, work laptops etc ought to be secure in any event, they might want to revisit that and consider whether any of the documents of information which she has access to should be worked on in the office only in order to ensure that there is no possibility if it either being accessed by her husband both to protect him, her and reputation of the organisation. I would imagine that any suggestion that someone accused of this type of offence might have access to details of vulnerable families would be as much of a problem for him, s for the org.

          4. Person from the Resume*

            I don’t think Beth’s job duties should be restricted because of Tom. However it’s not impacting her job to say Tom cannot attend any events until/unless he is cleared fully of all charges.

            It’s not impacting her job, but it’s keeping him away the organization.

          5. EPLawyer*

            I get what you are saying. Maybe lighten her load or something for a bit. She is clearly not thinking straight. Just like anyone going through a rough patch. I mean if you worked in ad agency, and your mother just died, would you be expected to work on the local funeral home account right away?

            It’s not penalizing so much as accepting she probably is not making good decisions right now and needs to be kept away from major decisionmaking. Also can you IMAGINE the headlines if it came out that the wife of the accused child porn guy was working on say new legislation related to online pornography?

            The Board’s first duty is to the organization, not any individual member. If someone needs to have restrictions on their duties for a bit to protect the organization then that needs to happen. It’s not firing her. It’s changing her job duties temporarily.

          6. another poster*

            I do agree with this, even it if was just a review to make sure that whatever area Beth is working in, Tom doesn’t have access to, for CYA.
            Not a nonprofit, but a friends company board (made up of mostly 2 different families) had an issue where 1 board member was charged (and later convicted) with something similar. The company has nothing to do with children, and the information quickly went public. They bought the person off the board quickly to mitigate any risk at all. It happened FAST.
            The board needs to be aware of the situation, not allow her husband to attend any events while this is pending, and review policies. Also consult with a lawyer, to make sure there isn’t anything else you can be doing.

      2. ava*

        Oh, for sure. Still, it would probably be ideal for the organization if they could get Beth and Tom to cooperate rather than making this into a (possibly public) dispute.

        1. Stitch*

          You also know who else I’d strongly wager doesn’t want Tom at this event? His criminal defense attorney. It’s a bad bad idea.

          1. ava*

            Good point! I actually cant think of any benefit to Tom trying to attend, for anyone, including Tom! If they let him in, that’s a terrible look for him and the organization. If he has to be banned from attending a party with children, that’s also a terrible look! this is a “stay out of the spotlight” situation for both him, and beth, and OP’s workplace

      3. public defender*

        Longtime public defender here. Let me start by saying that child pornography is horrible and even if the person possessing it is not abusing children, the children in those images were raped/molested by someone: that’s how these images were made. But an accusation is just that: an accusation. It is not necessarily the case that the wife is delusional or in denial about the horrible things her husband has done. It is actually possible that he did not do what he is accused of. I agree that his presence at this conference is a terrible idea for numerous reasons. But innocent until proven guilty is not just a legal abstraction. I hope that instead of viewing him as someone who “has not been convicted yet,” the board and OP can try to view him as someone who might not have committed a crime at all. (But again, 100% agree he shouldn’t be there. And yes, his lawyer should tell him that).

        1. münchner kindl*

          But Tom not attending this event is not harming him; if he’s innocent, he hasn’t lost anything, if he’s guilty, the children at the event are protected.

          It’s like when adults regularly involved with children – pastors, teachers, sport coaches – are told the rules that protect children:
          never be alone with a child behind closed doors
          have a second adult for certain procedures

          Any reasonable adult will understand that this serves to protect the children; especially since today we know how widespread abuse is; and put the safety of the kids ahead of their own minor inconvience of getting a second adult, not closing the door etc.

          So if Tom is innocent – I know there are cases of viruses loading child porn onto a computer, then the owner is blackmailed for money – he should want to present himself in the best light possible by avoiding anything that casts him in doubt; by avoiding unnecessary contact with children.

          1. Reality.Bites*

            There are incidents of that happening. There aren’t incidents of anyone ever charged for being a victim of a virus.

        2. KEG*

          The very best version is Tom is looking at 16 year olds. The Company shouldn’t have an old creep at the company picnic.

          It’s not hard to find but you do have to spell it out / ask for it. Getting charged means the local task force has worked for at least 3 or 4 months confirming your ip address is doing the downloading.

          1. Stitch*

            Tom wasn’t just accused here. He was arrested and charged. There’s more than just an accusation there. Particularly for this type of crime, it means things were almost certainly found on his computer.

          2. hbc*

            No one thinks Tom should be at the picnic, but the very best version is a lot better than “he’s views porn of the oldest humans we label as children.” He could have let someone use his computer who downloaded the porn. He could have been hacked. One of his kids could have been taking pictures and using his computer to send them. He might have a beef with the local law enforcement and they’re pursuing him for some malware he accidentally picked up.

            These are not likely scenarios, but luckily, no one has to assess how likely it is that Tom is guilty. The rule should be “no one with convictions or pending cases for harm to children may be at the events.”

            1. Stitch*

              I mean, that’s not a risk I’m taking with my kid and I’d be absolutely furious if an organization thought that was an acceptable risk for my or any kid.

              1. High Score!*

                Exactly this. Sure, innocent until proven guilty but he’s been accused of a serious crime and should not be around children until and unless he’s acquitted. I’d rip his eyeballs out if I saw him at that event & he was looking at my kids in case it was the worst case scenario rather than best case. And I’d report the organization to the local news media and law enforcement.

              2. Parakeet*

                Nobody in this thread is advocating that Tom should go to the event, that I can see. People were simply saying that the very widespread implications throughout this thread that Tom MUST be guilty are off-base, and providing a number of plausible alternatives. Fortunately, since Tom shouldn’t go to the event either way, nobody has to decide that – a lot of the commenters seem awfully sure about it though!

                1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  The thing is that Tom is Schrodinger’s Nonce. It isn’t until we open the box (legal proceedings are concluded) that we know whether caution was required or not.

                  Society has to simultaneously treat him as if innocent (eg legal presumption) and also as if guilty (eg child safeguarding).

          3. zinzarin*

            The “very best version” is actually that Tom’s computer was a zombie slave to an actual criminal, and he had no knowledge or participation in the activity beyond accidentally installing the virus/worm that gave them control of his computer.

        3. Delta Delta*

          Yeah, longtime defense lawyer here. You know as well as I do he very likely has bail conditions prohibiting him from having contact with kids. And you also know as well as I do that if he goes to this event, he’s getting arrested for violating his bail conditions. And you also know that if he’s convicted, that when he goes to sentencing one of the absolute first things that will come up is that he was trolling for kids while he was out pretrial. The second thing that will come up is that his wife enabled it. So yeah, Tom needs to stay home and his lawyer needs to tell him that. and the board needs to tell the same thing to Beth.

        4. ferrina*

          Tom’s guilty/not guilty status is irrelevant to the LW’s question. (Obviously not irrelevant outside of that).

          Optics is the big issue. If Tom goes, the public will be (rightfully) distrustful of Organization, and the news will run with the story in a big way (see the comments from reporters in other threads). LW’s organization can’t afford the appearance of this. Clearly Tom shouldn’t and can’t go, regardless of whether he’s guilty or not guilty.

        5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          I have great admiration for public defenders and the justice system could definitely use some work. However, “innocent until proven guilty” IS an abstraction. Either this guy had child porn or he didn’t–there is a fact there that does not change regardless of whether there’s been a trial and even whether he is convicted or acquitted. I agree with viewing him as someone who might well be innocent except for situations where being wrong about that would be potentially dangerous.

          1. Stitch*

            Innocent until proven guilty is a legal concept that frames how a court and jury is supposed to approach a case. It frames it that the prosecutor bears the burden and that the defendant has no burden to prove innocence.

            There is no social or practical expectation that we act like someone is innocent simply because they have not yet be convicted. The legal presumption of innocence applies to someone you personally witnessed commit a crime or who commits a crime on video. It doesn’t mean organizations or individuals cannot or should not take pending charges and arrest details into consideration.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              If we truly believed in “innocent until proven guilty”, bail wouldn’t exist.

          2. Here we go again*

            Legally he is innocent until proven guilty. Socially I’d ghost this guy and stay as far away from him as I can. This is a social function for him.

        6. Observer*

          I hope that instead of viewing him as someone who “has not been convicted yet,” the board and OP can try to view him as someone who might not have committed a crime at all.

          Maybe. But at this point, the Board DOES need to consider his as someone who *AT BEST* has terrible judgement and boundaries.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Seriously. A totally upstanding and reasonable person unfairly stuck in this situation would have no problem skipping an optional social event for an organization they’re not even part of. It’s extremely weird that he/Beth didn’t immediately decline.

      1. Ugh..No*

        I agree I think its weird she excepted for him. I mentioned that I had family friend commit a very similar crime. This would look very bad for him at trial, if they find out he went. His lawyer would probably be beside themselves if they found out he went. I am really shocked she RSVPed for him.

      2. Fishsticks*

        I think it’s likely that Beth and Tom have this idea of “not letting these accusations change anything/not letting people see that they get to us” and think that they’ll put on a united front and show off just how super duper trustworthy and upstanding Tom is by having him refuse to change his day to day life or behavior. But that’s just a terrible idea all around in this situation.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      And there are plenty of face-saving things you can say if anyone asks you why you’re not attending your spouse’s work event.

    4. to varying degrees*

      Yeah, putting aside innocence or guilt in this question, his very presence will be a distraction from the purpose of the event, non-profit, and fundraising (which normally always happens in some fashion at these things). That may not be fair to Tom if in fact he is innocent of these allegations, but it is reality of the situation.

  3. Stitch*

    Re LW2 the one thing to understand is they might be watching you in order to learn how to troubleshoot themselves. So don’t feel bad or like they’re judging if you’re googling. Actual IT professionals Google stuff all the time and you’re a teacher helping out.

    If someone is actually judging you or complaining when you are doing a favor outside of your job duties, you should feel comfortable not doing them the favor anymore.

    1. michelenyc*

      This is exactly why I hover when IT is fixing my computer. I also tell them I am going to watch you so that I don’t have to bother you if it should happen again. I don’t like people looking over my shoulder as I work on things either.

      1. Violet Fox*

        Please give your IT people their personal space. Since you don’t like people hovering over you, why would you do it to other people?

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, thank you. I’m not in IT, but I’ve been in LW2’s position of being the unofficial IT person. I absolutely hated it when people would hover over my shoulder or sit across the desk and stare at me while I try to figure out the issue, and then Google a fix for it and pray it works. Go get coffee, go talk to a coworker, go to the restroom. Just DO something other than hover or stare.

        2. Venus*

          The easy solution is to ask them. Many experts don’t mind an audience and in those situations I often learn something. I know more about how my house works because of kind tradespeople who like to share what they do.

          Not that this matters to me because my current IT does everything remotely so I can observe everything closely and they never know.

      2. Mongrel*

        When I do family & friends IT I prefer not to have people at my shoulder while I’m diagnosing the issue.

        When I’ve fixed it I’m, normally, happy to demonstrate what I’ve done with the provisos that I’m an impatient teacher and some things are so easy to muck up that I’d rather pop over again (or install Team Viewer)

        1. andy*

          Tho, it has much more value for them to watch you troubleshoot it. Because it normalizes steps like “google this” and because they see all the places where the issue might be as you look for them.

          1. ferrina*

            What you’re describing is training, not troubleshooting. I’m a big fan of training, but it’s also no something that someone is obligated to do all the time. Some people can’t troubleshoot and train at the same time.

            Best thing to do is ask- “Hey, I’d love to get better at this. Mind if I watch you so I know how to do it better next time? Or would you rather show me after everything is fixed?”

          2. Observer*

            It actually doesn’t have a lot of value. Sure it normalizes searches. But it’s confusing and meandering and it makes it hard for people who don’t have the knowledge to really understand what the relevant information is.


              1. Mongrel*

                Troubleshooting is comparable to doing crosswords, I can teach the ‘rules’ but I can’t teach my thought process that take me from broken to fixed (or clue to word) in any coherent fashion.

        2. a tester, not a developer*

          Team Viewer has been a life (and sanity!) saver for our less tech-savvy relatives. No more trying to talk my MIL through fixing whatever she did to her email!

      3. Beth*

        As an IT person, watching me troubleshoot is not going to teach you to be a good troubleshooter. It is going to distract me and make my work harder, and will probably result in it taking longer to fix your problem. I’m not there to teach you IT; I’m there to fix your computer problem.

        In addition, the next time you have a problem, you are not going to be my favourite person. You’re going to be the Inconsiderate Person Who Made My Job Harder.

        1. Stitch*

          I mean when I had a certificate log in issue the IT person literally showed me how to fix it myself in the future.

          1. blam*

            Then the IT person knew how to fix it. Being shown that is not really like watching them figure out how to fix it when they didn’t immediately know the answer themselves.

        2. Grammar Penguin*

          All of this. I’m not in IT, I was a technician at a specialty auto shop (we built and maintained custom sports cars). When a customer would watch over my shoulder, asking questions and making suggestions, it would take at least twice as long to do the job (thus costing me money since I was paid at flat rate) and greatly increase the chance of me making a mistake, potentially causing expensive damage or even injury.

          I would ask politely for them to wait in the lobby or leave and come back when we’re done. If they wouldn’t, I’d just put the tools down, clock out off that job and go tell the manager. Let them deal with it while I go to work on another project.

          Technicians, mechanics, electricians, IT, any type of work where you’re relying on and paying someone to focus their attention to solve a problem *for you*, why would you distract them and make their job harder? Do you *want* them to screw up your car/house/computer?

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            There’s a viral image floating around of a price board for some kind of service where it says something like:

            I do it – $100/h
            I do it while you watch – $250/h
            You do it while I help – $400/h
            I teach you to do it – $1000/h

            I can’t remember the exact wording or pricing ratios but you get the gist!

      4. AnonInCanada*

        But if that person asks you to not hover, stare, or breathe down their backs, then give them the courtesy of getting out of their personal space. You said you don’t like it when it happens to you, so please don’t impose the same on them. I also can’t stand it when people are looking over my shoulder when I’m working; I feel uneasy when people do and ask them to back off as well.

      5. RedHeadFred*

        I can appreciate the wanting to learn… but if you were to replace “IT” with “electrician”, do you think the electrician’s gonna want you standing over their shoulder while they try to figure out the issue? Do you think you would learn how to trouble shoot and resolve a future electrical issue by doing that? The LW here is trying to help, but as an amateur… They aren’t an experienced IT resource and likely not in a position to train others on this topic.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I feel like this swap takes it in the wrong direction — a coworker helping me out is the one I wouldn’t hover on and annoy. But a specialist I’m paying? Maybe! Depends how complex it is and if it would be possible to learn from them – electrical would be too much for me but I just hovered on the refrigerator repairman so that I could prevent future $200 service calls. I’d have been very put off if he hadn’t been okay with me watching and asking questions. It was simple, and I can now easily do everything he did.

      6. Vio*

        I’d say it’s probably better to ask rather than tell. That way if they do mind it’s easier for them to say so and they also know to explain what they’re doing and why.

    2. Spencer Hastings*

      This. Also, I’d feel kind of like a jerk if I didn’t stay close, and went off to twiddle my thumbs instead. As though I’m…treating them like a servant? I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. Maybe it’s just me. I hadn’t considered the possibility that it might make someone feel uncomfortable.

      1. ProcessMeister*

        I don’t hover so much as stay nearby but close enough to see what they do. For some of the IT issues I have, it is best if I stay nearby so I can answer questions that arise and confirm that the issue is resolved.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One time had my friend in IT brightly say “Now’s the time for some 5S to make the company happy.”
        We were in the early days of a corporate initiative, still at the “sort” phase. Since we’re lunch buddies, he went on to say, “That sounds so much better than ‘clean your office so you’re out of my hair but available to enter passwords!'”

      3. DataSci*

        It’s not treating them like a servant, it’s letting them do their job in peace! Stay close enough to answer questions, but don’t look over their shoulder. Drink some coffee/tea and check email on your phone or something.

      1. Sylvan*

        Yeah. I usually sit kind of nearby and read on my phone. Feels like I shouldn’t walk off, but there’s nothing work-related to do without my laptop. :/

      2. Lizzo*

        Maybe go get coffee for yourself and also get something for the coworker as well? As a thank you for their assistance?

    3. John Smith*

      Totally agree. Even IT in my organisation tell me 80% of their solutions come from googling. A word of caution though:

      I’ve been in exactly the same position except I was seen as a replacement for IT on many issues. I do – did – enjoy it like you, but over time it started interfering with my being able to do my actual non-IT related job. Need a database creating? See John. Cecile needs training to use formulas in Excel? See John. Printer malfunction? See John. And so on. It got to a point where most of my time was spent sorting out other people’s problems and when I pushed back, a manager tried to discipline me for refusing to do my job! I know this isn’t what you asked about, but please do take care so as to not end up in that position.

      1. ProcessMeister*

        Even if it doesn’t come back to bite LW, the fact that LW is doing this means the real issue remains. That is, that (a) IT may require better resourcing and (B) the teaching staff need training in when to call IT and when and how to resolve basic issues themselves. LW is fixing the basic problems but potentially (and inadvertently) prolonging the main issue. Why bother fixing the car if you can just call a taxi?

      2. Mongrel*

        “Totally agree. Even IT in my organisation tell me 80% of their solutions come from googling”

        Although they probably have a lot more context to both ask the right question (look up XY Problem on wiki) and to winnow out the non helpful answers, or at least correctly order them in the Horse > Zebra hierarchy

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I agree with what your onlookers might be feeling! Which doesn’t mean you have to have an audience if it’s making you uncomfortable, OP – you can still use one of Alison’s scripts but if you want you could add on something like, “I’m happy to talk you through how I solved it afterwards if you want to know what you could try next time.”

      1. Teach*

        I like that addition–all of the scripted options felt a little too…insistent?…to me. I would probably frame it as one of those “just one of my weird things” things, or maybe, “hey, let me try and figure out the best way to do this first, and then I’ll be happy to show you.” I do think they are treating you differently because you are not the official tech support, but just a coworker who is kindly helping them out. It would probably feel weird for them to ignore you or not try to learn from the experience.

    5. Mars*

      I also work at a school, and there are no workshops or training sessions for teachers. We all just have to muddle through, so people who can learn try to, to pass it on. If multiple people have similar problems, you might want to see if IT will do a training (for example, how to install printer drivers, how to troubleshoot the network, etc ).

      1. Green great dragon*

        #2, I would never walk away from my logged-in computer unless I’m officially handing it over to IT. It’s been drilled into me. I’m sure you’d never take advantage of it, but you’ve got access to personal info and confidential child info, right? Even if it’s just their latest performance review.

        I agree they are extremely unlikely to be critical if you take a few false steps on the way. They have asked you for help. If they start thinking they could do just as well, great, saves you the bother.

        1. Green great dragon*

          I have no idea why this comment has gone here as well as the top level comment I intended

          1. allathian*

            Regardless, your comment’s a good one. We use smart cards and PINs to log in, and we aren’t supposed to leave the computer unlocked out of our sight, and doing so could be a fireable offense if you’re caught. For me it’s a completely conditioned reflex, I’ll even lock my computer when I take a bio break when I’m remote and alone at home.

            If the IT techs need to do stuff on my computer, they’ll log in using their own admin IDs. If they exceptionally need to check something using my user-ID, I’m going to be there looking over their shoulder, or looking at my screen if I’m giving them remote access.

            1. I take tea*

              I lock my computer at home as well, but mostly because I’ve got extremely helpful cats… My partner had to learn the hard way.

        2. Perfectly Particular*

          I was thinking this as well – no chance I’m walking away while someone else has access to my computer. I’m not judging, I may well be looking up things on my phone while waiting, but I’m definitely staying.

        3. BatManDan*

          I hate to have people hover. I hate to hover, myself. If a co-worker (non-IT) staff were helping me fix something, there is a 100% chance I’m going to watch. I want to learn, I may be able to help by pointing out what I’ve already tried, and I’m responsible for what happens on that computer under my login. So, awkwardness all the way around, but I’m hovering. And I’d expect my co-workers to do the same, if I was helping them.

        4. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          Yeah, I’m in IT, and my reaction was, “This may just be something the LW has to get used to.” In multiple jobs I’ve held, it would be considered negligent in many circumstances to walk away from one’s logged-in computer, especially if the person working on it is not an official IT staff person (and in an ideal situation, the IT staff person has their own login, though some problems do require the specific user account).

          LW2 may be able to get people to step back a bit so they aren’t hovering RIGHT over their shoulder, but it is both an understandable reaction and a good security impulse to not leave someone alone with one’s computer.

          I would also suggest that it may actually be helpful to be explicit about the fact that LW is googling the answer; building up the concept of a Computer Expert who magically knows how to fix all the things is going to mean that the LW is the go-to person for every little computer thing forever, whereas a little bit of passive demonstration that LW is just figuring it out too will encourage people to try to solve things themselves first, and mean that LW has time for their own teaching load.

        5. Amanda*

          This. I’m very surprised that no one else caught on to this earlier. Under absolutely no circumstances would I hand my logged-in computer (which almost certainly had FERPA-protected info on it) to a coworker and walk away.

          I would say that if LW isn’t comfortable with people looking at the screen while they work on the computer, they should develop some scripts for declining to be the unofficial IT person for the department.

      2. The Agony Aunt*

        I ended up having to give my mom a crash course in Zoom in the earliest days of the pandemic because her school just expected she would know how to use it – and also to help all of her students (kindergarten age) and their parents get set up on it. I know whatever I told her she ended up emailing to a bunch of her colleagues who were in the same boat.

    6. Rapunzel Rider*

      Beyond wanting to learn themselves, they may feel the need to be there for password entry, to see any urgent notifications pop ups or since you are in education, for FERPA (US Education federal privacy law) reasons. Since you may not be the teacher to her students, you would not have a relevant educational need for seeing their private information.
      I know at the k-12 levels, it is a bit different and I am more familiar with the higher ed side but I typically do hover if someone is on my computer since I am responsible for ensuring that non-directory info would not be accessed. While I trust my co-workers to not look at things they are not supposed to, accidents happen and I would ultimately be the one responsible and on the hook.

    7. kiki*

      I think one can intellectually understand that somebody is just trying to learn and not judging, but still be self-conscious. I know I’m really bad at doing things while watched. The moment somebody’s eyes are on me, I’m clicking the wrong buttons, mistyping, forgetting how to write basic code, etc.

      It’s a common enough anxiety, that I think LW shouldn’t have a problem if they express to the people peering over their shoulder that they need some space and separation.

      1. Brian*

        LW2 here: I’m a teacher and we all wear many hats. Like any job, we step in where needed, even if it’s not one of our official duties.

      2. Zaeobi*

        Ah, you’re lucky you’re in a field where this sort of ‘extra’ work isn’t expected of you – education & academia are rife with ‘free labour’!

    8. Alan*

      I was once called to a lab at work to look at an issue in some software I had written. I had a bunch of people looking over my shoulder, some of them software people, and when I was in the middle one of them commented “How can you code with all of us watching you? I couldn’t do that.” I wasn’t nervous until they said that but it actually felt kind of good. I knew they were just curious about the fix.

    9. Choggy*

      As someone who does tech support for a living, I would actually prefer to know about any issues being reported by a user. That way we have an accurate record and can keep track of repetitive or other issues and make system-wide changes as needed. I don’t have any issues with someone looking over my shoulder and in fact use it as a teaching moment. Maybe LW2 should look into changing careers if they enjoy it so much. :)

  4. Magenta Sky*

    LW #2:
    ” I’ve had no actual technical training so a lot of what I do is trial and error and googling”

    I’ve been an IT guy for 25+ years, and I hate to be the one to tell you this, but that *is* technical training. The biggest difference between you and me is that I have more experience at casual conversation with the user so they don’t realize I’m just looking up the error code on Google.

    LW #5: What mail client do you use that doesn’t *tell* you if there’s a read receipt request in an email (and ask whether or not to do so)?

    1. jasmine*

      As someone who has also had a long career in software development, I heartily agree! Googling error messages is one of the super-powers that we technical people have for learning how to fix things. I just fixed a mysterious problem on my own machine today by doing just that.

      And if I’m fixing someone else’s problem, I actually want them to be looking over my shoulder – and asking questions – so that they can understand what I’m doing. That way, they might be able to fix the next problem for themselves (or help someone else).

      1. Maggie*

        It’s like asking a librarian for help. Sure, you could probably find what you need on your own, but they know how to search much more efficiently.
        I always asked if the IT person needed me present for troubleshooting, then told them where I’d be. “I’m going to go use the fancy Keurig in the break room. Do you want a coffee too?” The IT departments I’ve worked with always preferred if we didn’t try to fix software problem. Just make sure the device has power, reboot, and report any error messages. Chances are, if one computer on the network is having a software problem, others will too.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Archives assistant here: Our patrons think I’m a genius but mostly, yeah, I’m just really good with search engines. They could find a lot of this stuff as well as I could if they had as much practice.

        2. Magenta Sky*

          Every situation, and every user, is different. I just sent instructions on how to install some new hardware – which is fairly complicated – to a store manager who I know can handle it. I have other users who I can’t trust to read an error message off the screen in front of them.

          But worse of all is the ones who don’t know as much as they think they do. They’ll try to fix things, and make it worse, often far worse. I once had to drive five hours (each way) to a remote location (with no notice) because an electrician (who is very, very good at running network cable) didn’t know the difference between an unmanaged switch and an SDWAN box – and then had his guy who “knows a lot about computers” try to fix it. Took me five minutes to straighten out the wiring issues, and about an hour to undo his “fixes.”

    2. scandi*

      A big part of the training to become an expert in anything is making sure you can create the correct search string and interpret the result. Doctors look up your symptoms in digital databases as well, they just have the background to prioritise which symptoms are likely to be relevant and which hits are likely just noise compared to you using WebMD. My issue with fixing my computer via Googling is that I often can’t determine which hits are relevant to my problem.

    3. The more you know*

      Most tracking of whether an email was opened is done with tracking pixels instead of read receipts these days, so the sender can tell whether you opened the email without asking for a read receipt. It works by monitoring whether the images in the email have been downloaded, which is why I keep download images off as default, and decide when I receive an email whether I’d rather let the sender know I opened their email, or go without pictures for that particular message.

      1. American in Ireland*

        There are multiple mail clients that, if the user has images turned on by default, download the tracking pixel before the message is opened. Gmail webmail does it, Apple mail does it and Yahoo webmail does it. There are also spam filtering appliances that follow all links in an email to ensure that none of the links are hosting malware or viruses. All of these actions count as a “open” if all the sender is doing is counting access of tracking pixels.

      2. Glass House, White Ferrari, Live for New Year's Eve*

        The Ugly Email extension used to allow you to see which emails use tracking and to block them if desired, but blocking hasn’t been working for me for a while and it likely isn’t showing all emails with tracking. The more you know’s method is the only one that 100% works.

    4. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      In Microsoft’s Outlook, there is a setting where you can tell the program to always send a read receipt, never send a read receipt or ask every time. File, Options, Mail, Tracking. I think what The More You Know is connected to email on an iPhone?

      1. The more you know*

        The tracking pixels don’t have anything to do with read receipts, so changing the mail tracking options in Outlook won’t make a difference to this particular method of email tracking. If your mail client downloads the images in the email then the sender will know it has been received, because the server that hosts the tracking image gets a request for download. The type of device you read your emails on isn’t relevant either.
        As American in Ireland points out, some mail clients will download the image before the message is opened, so the sender might not know for sure that you opened the message, but they know it landed in your inbox. They may also be able to count the number of times you open the message if it re-downloads the images every time.

      2. AnonInCanada*

        Outlook also blocks any graphic elements from downloading by default as well, which can be set to open by default or by individual domains or senders. Or set to never use rich text formats at all and only fetch and display email in plain ASCII. As well, as you mentioned, to never send, always send or ask when confronted with a read receipt request. Or strip the “high importance” flag, because some people just love to send Every. Single. Email as high importance. High importance to who? Not the recipient, that’s for sure!

    5. You Can't Pronounce It*

      LW #2 – Came here to second this comment. My husband is an IT guy and used to joke about how his job is just googling issues. My then young son would repeat how his dad just googles all day for work.

    6. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      I came here to say this. Even beyond tech support, the software engineers, systems administrators, devops engineers, DBAs, etc. who build and maintain this technology are doing a lot of googling error messages and trial and error!

    7. Butterfly Counter*

      My husband, who is great at computers, would get mad that I would call him in for every little computer issue.

      He finally just told me, “All I do is google the problem and follow the directions to solve it! I promise, you can do that without me!”

      And now I can fix 80% of my own computer problems! I had thought there was a whole wealth of knowledge he had in his brain to fix computers. There IS a wealth of knowledge, but it’s accessible to everyone!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Like 98% of “knowing” stuff is actually being able to figure out how to find out how to do it, not actually memorizing how to do it.

    8. Sandi*

      I always thought that I was technically incompetent because I didn’t do well in my coding classes. I felt inferior to my coworkers and had strong imposter syndrome for any coding tasks.

      One day a very talented programmer told me that I wrote good code for the time that I spent on it. The only difference between his work and mine is that he was paid to spend a lot more time improving his code to where it ran much faster and accounted for more user errors. I use code to do analysis, so it is used by a small group and I only need it to work well enough. That he pointed this out completely changed my view of my skills, because my work was similar to his except that I stopped earlier. Even with all his skills he was often googling answers, and it was quite a boost to my confidence when we discussed which coding Q&A websites we preferred for answers because it reinforced that I had more skills than I knew.

    9. Choggy*

      I got into tech support during the advent of the WWW, Netscape was the first browser I used, at MIT no less. Life became a lot easier as the Internet grew. IT is the type of profession where if you aren’t learning something new every day, you are in the wrong profession. Trial and error can only take you so far, being an expert in identifying and using your resources is a very valuable skill.

  5. Observer*

    #1 – Non-profit with a problematic Board Member spouse.

    Technically, Allison is right and this is a Board issue. But in reality, often the ED needs to push this stuff along.

    There are a TON of resources for young non-profits. In many cities there are resources from the State and City governments, especially if they also have contracts with non-profit social service providers. There are also some good groups that provide assistance and development to NPO and, especially their boards.

    Also, if your org has access to a decent lawyer and community relations professional, they should definitely reach out to them for some advice here. Also, if you have a relationship with the broker of your liability insurance, they might have insight or could point you to resources.

    1. I'm the Phoebe in any group*

      Another place to go for guidance or a referral for guidance is your local community foundation. They are in every area so if you Google community foundation and the name of your city or county it’ll pop up. Officially they award grants and manage family giving programs but they work with a lot of asmall and new nonprofits and they would probably be very good at guiding you on who to talk to. I worked with community foundations in a couple of cities and they’re very friendly and very helpful.

    2. tg33*

      If your nonprofit works with children, you need to be very careful that you are aware of safety guidelines for working with children, and that they are followed to the letter. Do you have a resource you can reach out to in order to get help with this situation? I have done some volunteering with the church and the guidelines are in place to protect first of all the children, and also the volunteers.

      1. Stitch*

        I’m honestly baffled. I had to submit to a background check to volunteer to read stories to my kid’s summer camp.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I was supposed to do training when I wanted to play in an adult handbell choir at a church.* Not a situation whatsoever where I would have interactions with kids but since kids can be in the building at the same time I guess they figured it was necessary. It was definitely a CYA situation, and I’m also surprised this org isn’t required to do background checks for any adult involved with the org, even if they are only a spouse of a board member.

          I said so in another comment but I am also surprised this org doesn’t have some lawyer that they can talk to about this. It seems to me that any org that deals directly with children should absolutely have some sort of legal counsel because kids and their lives are complicated.

          * I actually declined to do the training for the handbell choir since I didn’t want to play in the group badly enough to go to an all-day training on a Saturday in the middle of the summer. Summer weekends are way too precious for that! If they’d had a weeknight training session I might have done it. Oh well.

        2. Avery*

          I had to get a background check to do a contract admin job for a nonprofit working with children. Never once interacted with a child when working there. Still had to go through all the same hoops.

          1. Avery*

            And some other comments made me remember: I actually had to go to a day or two of training with information about being a mandatory reporter and the like for that job too. Again, I never once interacted with a child, but just working for an organization where I could have was enough for them to make that call.

          2. The Agony Aunt*

            Same; I worked for a branch of a BigName international children’s charity – part of the interview process (pre-hire) was getting a background check done, even though in our office, the only children that were ever around were co-worker’s kids and we had to do a new one every three years we were in the job.

    3. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      And there’s Alison’s book, Managing to Change the World (I think). Geared toward non-profit management. We got one for our library, but it has disappeared!

  6. Sarah S*

    One of the reasons we are encouraging the use of the term “child sex abuse materials” rather than “child pornography” is that accessing this type of content IS abusive and IS harmful. I understand LW1 is reporting what the police said about Tom not being accused of physically harming children, but that press statement was unfortunately misleading. Tom accessed content that resulted in him being criminally charged, which means he harmed children. No one accidentally accesses this material. No one seeks this out—especially a grown man with kids of his own—as a joke or for any other non-criminal reason. So, I hope LW1’s organization not only handles the event appropriately, but also addresses Beth’s concerning behavior: Beth RSVPed as if Tom attending the event would be fine. I know she’s in an extremely difficult situation, and I hope she has support for herself, but that RSVP suggests she hasn’t (yet) faced the magnitude of what Tom did.

    1. Pennyworth*

      I came here to say the same thing – looking at images of a child being sexually abused equals being a party to that abuse.

    2. Stitch*

      The other thing is that him not being alone with kids at this event isn’t really the point.

      One, abusers can act in front of people. Two, it’s also about the possibility of setting him up or even unintended vouching for him as an adult associated with this organization and event.

      1. Putty Tats*

        Wholeheartedly agree! My question is, why wasn’t this addressed with the board member (wife of accused) after the letter was received? This is being bungled and in a non-comical fashion.

      2. Ellis Bell.*

        Yeah, if Tom made arrangements to have future contact with a family, just because he and his wife get along with the couple, or if he even offered to tutor a struggling child – how would the organisation feel about that? If the charges were then found out by a family who attended retrospectively? For whatever reason, this couple are ignoring the elephant in the room; you can rely on them continuing to act as though nothing has happened and it’s business as normal. The scenario is bad even if he is innocent, if he’s guilty it’s far, far worse (and highly newsworthy).

    3. münchner kindl*

      I thought it’s more complicated than that, because some US states classify every picture of a naked child as pornography – so Fathers who took photos of their kid in the bath were sued in divorce many years later for “child pornography” and convicted.

      Or teenagers taking pictures of themselves on school laptops and being convicted of child porn.

      Or criminals loading child porn onto a computer (via virus) and then blackmailing the computer owner for money.

      1. American in Ireland*

        Please do not minimize the issue of CSAM by pretending that people are being criminally arrested for having pictures of their own kids in the tub. You’re asserting that “sued” and “convicted” are the same thing, and they’re not. Convicted means they were found guilty of a criminal offense. Even if they lost a lawsuit they weren’t convicted.

        The people who work to bring CSAM perpetrators to justice (from the computer experts to the law enforcement teams to the lawyers and even the judges and juries) deal with horrific (and I mean utterly horrific things). Things that you and I cannot even begin to comprehend.

        Your statements are similar to statements made by people who are actively trying to defend and protect perpetrators. I am assuming you’re not actively trying to defend these horrible people, but your words make it sound like you are.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          This is a very black-and-white comment. The person in the post was only accused, NOT convicted, so assuming he necessarily did the most horrid things that have ever occured is misplaced.

          It should be possible to mention “innocent until proven guilty”, and the breadth of offenses that come under one law without being accused of defending monsters. If anything, the problem is with assuming that anyone accused is the same – that either everyone has to be monstrous, or everyone innocent. And that the mention of innocence denies the existence of monsters. That’s just not true.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I didn’t read it that way– I don’t think they were saying anything about Beth’s husband being convicted, they were pointing out the difference between someone being sued in a civil court as part of a bad divorce situation and someone being convicted in a criminal court, and that if someone is facing criminal charges, it’s probably not “own kids in a bath” situation. That’s a way that people minimise CSE.

        2. Seashell*

          I do recall reading more than one case in the news about someone being investigated after a store reported developing/printing pictures of babies or toddlers unclothed to law enforcement. It has been awhile, but I think Walmart was involved. I don’t know if anyone was arrested or convicted, but I would find being investigated upsetting enough if I were in that person’s shoes.

          What you mentioned is certainly the main problem here, but the worst incidents are not the only thing that has ever been investigated.

          1. Observer*

            Tim is not “being investigated”. He was ARRESTED. Does that mean he is definitely guilty? No. But there is NO WAY that he was arrested because someone in a photo developing lab or computer repair shop alerted the police to the presence of a few photos of naked children.

            Even if the images he was arrested over were “not the worst”, it certainly wasn’t a matter of “just some pics of his kids in the bath.”

            PLEASE don’t minimize CSAM. There is no version of this stuff that is not absolutely harmful.

              1. Grammar Penguin*

                Right. To get to that point it means that police conducted an investigation, found evidence and referred it to the District Attorney’s office. The DA or assistant DA reviewed that evidence and thought it worth bringing to a grand jury. The grand jury reviews the evidence and returns an indictment. THEN he was arrested, charged, and apparently released on his own recognizance pending trial.

                Until conviction at trial, the law must grant him the presumption of innocence for the purpose of a fair trial. No one else has to, though.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        I agree that the topic is not so simple. Some definitions of child pornography seem excessive, and the presumption of innocence exists for a reason. I don’t think that going down the road of “anyone accused of child pornography is always guilty” is helpful. Sure, a lot of excuses seem thin or improbable, but that’s for the court to determine. We do not know *anything* about this case, so better to reserve our judgement. That’s not to say people should act like it’s not happening. Just keep “maybe, maybe not” in mind.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          At this point, Tom has been charged but not convicted, so we have to think of the potential harm that could happen in either direction.

          Option 1: Tom is guilty. What potential harm would be caused by him attending the event? The children at the event might become potential targets or be harmed by his actions.

          Option 2: Tom is not guilty. What potential harm would be caused by him not being allowed to attend the event? His feelings/ego/pride might be wounded.

          If you’re asking me to choose between children being harmed and Tom’s feelings being hurt, I’m gonna hurt Tom’s feelings. Every time.

      3. Observer*

        so Fathers who took photos of their kid in the bath were sued in divorce many years later for “child pornography” and convicted.

        You’re repeating a lot of urban legends. For instance, this sentence makes no sense. Maybe a father got sued in divorce court over such pictures, but that’s a civil case and there is no “conviction.” If there was a criminal proceeding arising from that, then the issue would have been that Dad SENT those pictures to someone other than their mother. And that *IS* abusive.

        Or teenagers taking pictures of themselves on school laptops and being convicted of child porn.

        Never happened. Again, you seems to be mashing up a bunch of different stories to get a toxic stew. But even if you were correct here, it would be utterly irrelevant. Because there is no way that this could possibly be a case of Tim being arrested for pictures of HIMSELF that are on hos own computer and only on his computer. He is being charged with pictures of CHILDREN – he is NOT a child. And, he couldn’t be charged for pictures of himself even as a child if they were only on his computer.

        Or criminals loading child porn onto a computer (via virus) and then blackmailing the computer owner for money.

        Urban legend. Also, it would be easy enough to prove the presence of a supposed virus and blackmail attempt.

        The bottom line here is that you are pulling up a bunch of stuff that is at best irrelevant and at worst simply false to make it sound like this arrest is No Big Deal and all the people who are pushing back are just a bunch of prudes. That’s pretty gross.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Backing y0u up on the ‘downloaded remotely for blackmail materials’ being an urban myth. Simply put the forensics team would be able to spot that a mile off and also it doesn’t happen.

          There is no way to ‘accidentally’ end up with child porn on your computer.

          1. SomewhatLegallyAware*

            Also, the feds want to build an airtight case. They often don’t go after someone who downloaded a single image. They often wait until they see high amounts of materially downloaded so they can throw the book at the person and put them away for a long time.

          2. Zaeobi*

            Someone further upthread stated that DID happen to someone they knew – though the FBI LATER found him innocent, he still had to go through a year of not being able to see his kid unsupervised, wearing an ankle monitor etc.

            Just wanted to state that, just because these things haven’t happened to you (or someone you know), doesn’t mean they CAN’T (i.e. are purely myths/ legends).

          3. Ellie*

            In the real life example I know of, it was a work computer. Three people were fired for it, and all the material found was turned over to the police. One person successfully argued that they had no idea, and their swipe-card access records supported that. He still got in trouble for not locking his machine though.

            If he’s innocent it will come out. Until then, you can’t take the chance.

        2. Bookmark*

          I take your overall point that the likelihood of these things is quite low (and also, it’s irrelevant for this letter because the guy shouldn’t be attending while the case is pending even if he’s asserting his innocence!), but asserting that these things never happen is… demonstrably false, at least on the teenager front. A cursory (but carefully worded!) google search leads to a number of news articles about teenagers arrested and charged for sharing pictures of themselves with friends.

          1. Observer*

            but asserting that these things never happen is… demonstrably false, at least on the teenager front. A cursory (but carefully worded!) google search leads to a number of news articles about teenagers arrested and charged for sharing pictures of themselves with friends.

            And every one of those stories is about kids SHARING those pictures. Via Text or other messaging app. None of these kids were arrested for pictures that were found on their laptops, school issued or not.

            Again, it’s a case of someone carelessly (or maybe deliberately) putting together different stories and issues to make a claim that is false.

        3. SomewhatLegallyAware*

          Whenever someone tells me, “so&so got convicted for [insert something less horrifying],” I have them pull up the charge list on the sex offender registry right there and then. The registry doesn’t mince words and is available to the public in most states.

        4. münchner kindl*

          All these examples were reported in serious news media, although some are older.

          Sued in civil court meant that the husband was not granted access to his children at all after divorce because of his status “posessing child pornography”.

          The pupils taking pictures of themselves with school-issued laptops, then being disciplined by school was reported from several different schools in different states.

          And yes, viruses do leave a trace – but forensics must look for it, which takes time.

          So saying “the files were on his computer, he must be guilty” is pre-judging before the full investigation is finished.

          1. Sarah S*

            This is a situation where “pre-judging” isn’t a meaningful concept. It’s similar to someone who causes a terrible car wreck with fatalities, is found to have a high blood alcohol level, and is charged with a crime like vehicular manslaughter–they haven’t been convicted of anything yet, but there are compelling reasons for us to think they’re guilty (the crash, the BAC, the criminal charges).

            Given your handle, I don’t know if you’re in the US, so maybe the legal processes are different where you are. In the US, if someone is charged with a crime, that means the District Attorney’s office has determined there is enough evidence of the person’s guilt to proceed with the case. The investigation is complete. Civil court cases (like divorces) have a lower burden of proof, while criminal cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The situation described by LW1 involves criminal charges. In order for Tom to be criminally charged for possessing CSAM, a completed investigation must have produced enough evidence that the DA’s office believes they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Tom intentionally sought out and obtained CSAM. They would not be proceeding with charges otherwise.

      4. Sarah S*

        These are tropes in crime dramas, not events that occur in real life. There was a prominent case involving an Arizona family’s photos of their kids in the bath over ten years ago–they were investigated but not charged, and the investigation sparked massive outrage on behalf of the parents. There has not been an epidemic of parents being criminally charged for bathtub photos. And criminals aren’t using viruses to plant CSAM on anyone’s computer for blackmail purposes–hackers and scammers want to do the least work for the most money, so they’re stealing banking info or tricking people into giving them money (e.g., “you need to pay this ticket by phone to avoid an arrest warrant” scams). They target as many people as possible, because most recipients are going to know the sketchy email is a phishing attempt or a scam. If scammers were using CSAM to blackmail people, there would be a ton of media coverage about it because so many people would be affected.

        (There are problematic legal situations in which minors sending nudes may be at risk of criminal charges, which is awful but totally unrelated to this case, involving an adult man.)

        Legally, Tom deserves to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But socially and practically, there is enough evidence Tom accessed CSAM (his criminal charges, the police statement to the press), to assume he’s not a safe person for kids to be around.

        1. Observer*

          And criminals aren’t using viruses to plant CSAM on anyone’s computer for blackmail purposes</i?

          Yes. They CLAIM to have CSAM that their potential victim has viewed, but that's a different thing. And no one is getting arrested for this.

          (There are problematic legal situations in which minors sending nudes may be at risk of criminal charges, which is awful but totally unrelated to this case, involving an adult man.)

          Yeah, this case is not remotely like that. Also, those cases were never about pictures on their laptop, but “sexting” (ie sending nudes and the like) via text message.

    4. 5th, 6th and 14th*

      No, it means he is *accused* of the charges.

      He’s legally innocent until proven guilty.

      1. tg33*

        He is legally innocent, but until the charges have been investigated / tried he should stay away from events involving children that he doesn’t have to be at.

      2. Stitch*

        I mean he was arrested and the police made a statement. That doesn’t mean he was just accused, it means the police and a judge found probable cause that a crime had been committed.

        Just calling it an accusation implies that someone just claimed he had the material. Finding probable cause means they found the material on his computer.

      3. blam*

        He can’t be legally sentenced to anything until proven guilty. OP’s organisation is not a court of law and does not have to assume his innocence, especially in the face of huge potential ramifications to their reputation and ability to provide their services.

    5. Some Internet Rando*

      I came here to say the same thing – we need to stop using the term child pornography and start using the term “child sexual abuse material (CSAM).”

      Also I understand people voicing the perspective that we don’t know for sure if this person is guilty but I am firmly in the camp of 1) he probably is because he wouldn’t be charged with this if they didn’t find any CSAM in his possession and 2) whether he is or is not guilty, the idea that he should be at this event shows astoundingly poor judgement and is a BAD idea.

      You should start with the Board President to address this. If they are too weak then the whole Board should be made aware and keep your fingers crossed that someone on the Board has common sense.

      If the entire board thinks having this person at a public event with children is a good idea, you have bigger problems in your organization.

      1. Observer*

        If the entire board thinks having this person at a public event with children is a good idea, you have bigger problems in your organization.

        Yes! X 1,000

    6. Samwise*

      It means he harmed children if he’s guilty.

      Right now he is charged, not convicted.

      I agree that BECAUSE he’s been charged, he should absolutely not be anywhere around anything that has to do with OP’s employer. Because there’s a possibility that he did harm children.

      Just, in the US, the presumption is innocent until proven guilty. I think this is important to remember, and to be careful of our language.

      1. Stitch*

        The thing about presumption of innocence is that it’s a legal concept applied to his trial. It is not a shield from the social and practical consequences of his arrest.

        1. Here we go again*

          +1 I’m free to associate or not associate with whoever I choose.
          If someone I know has been accused of hurting kids I’m free not to associate with that person. If that means I have to quit my job I will. At will employment works both ways.
          If I were in OPs shoes I’d be polishing my resume and I’d be prepared to walk off the job if they refused to ban this guy from an event like this. My principles and moral compass couldn’t let me stand by and let someone who may have hurt kids get close to children.

      2. Observer*

        Just, in the US, the presumption is innocent until proven guilty. I think this is important to remember, and to be careful of our language.

        No, the LEGAL presumption is “innocent until proven guilty.” But morally, socially and even legally, people are not only *permitted*, they are sometimes REQUIRED to draw conclusions on information that might not lead to a conviction in a court of law.

        For instance, if the police can prove that they found those documents on his computer and it wasn’t a virus etc. but it turns out that they examined the computer without the appropriate warrants, he would probably not be convicted in court. That doesn’t make him innocent. And it most definitely would NOT mean that people need to ignore the evidence!

        In fact, the legal presumption of innocence and the related protections that keep information out of the courts etc. are only viable because the rest of society is not constrained by those limitations. Otherwise there would be an unacceptable level of risk that people would have to be given dangerous levels of access in the absence of a court conviction.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        I don’t have kids but if I did, this is not a hair I’d be willing to split when their safety was in play.

      4. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        Hell, for his own sake he should not be around kids. Say he’s innocent: Someone could still say he was trying to groom kids, even if all he did was say hello. That would complicate his court case.

        Innocent or guilty, the last thing he should do is anything that could add fuel to the fire. That includes attending events with kids.

      5. Roland*

        Yeah, I don’t understand why so many people are conflating “he is def 100% guilty” with “he shouldn’t go”. He shouldn’t go, and also we don’t know that he’s guilty and so some commenters aren’t comfortable asserting he’s a monster; those facts coexist.

    1. Stitch*

      What I was also thinking is it would be a dilly thing to do because it’d absolutely clog the recruiter’s inbox and wouldn’t be particularly useful data.

      1. No Clever Pseudonym*

        LW3, depending on the size of your team you could try an exercise that I found really helpful. Have your direct reports provide feedback for you as a group. Give them some guiding questions (What about my management style is working well? What would you like to improve/be done differently?) and then let them meet and discuss (without you, of course) and write a 1-2 page group feedback report for you. They get to control what is given to you and how the information is provided so they can ensure their comments are anonymized within the group to their comfort level. Once you’ve read it, take some time to digest and then meet with them to talk about how you’ll put their feedback into actionable change.

        1. No Clever Pseudonym*

          Dang it, I shouldn’t do things on my phone. Didn’t mean for this to be under this thread.

    2. T2*

      The basic issues with Read receipts and email tracking is that they are unreliable and also an invasion of privacy.

      But the more specific issue is that as an attacker, I could use an email tracker to harvest the emails of live email addresses in an organization for further targeting.

      It works like this: say I want to target a company marketing department. I could google for emails and send an email to the various addresses I find. I could then use a read receipt to uncover which are groups, and the. Use the tracking to target those users.

      Users may be inclined to click on my link if I can address them individually.

      So. Basically, email delivery notifications don’t prove that the email was actually deliver, they are unreliable for your purpose, but are good enough to be used to scout an org for targeted email attacks.

      My recommendation is to not use them, and further set your email client to reject them. As an admin, I would filter out targeting pixels or other trackers for security reasons.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      As a note, LinkedIn does have read receipts on messages. It’s fairly useful, from my perspective. I’ve had to reach out to people and knowing a message was received helps me at least understand that the message was seen, even if they don’t reply.

    4. Hats Are Great*

      I work with a couple of these types of systems, and the analytics that are interesting are NOT individual — they’re A/B testing different graphics or e-mail signatures or something, and look at an aggregated monthly report. Our analytics system won’t even report individual read receipts; it’s not possible in the system. We generally only see “we got 80% click-through on this graphic, but only 30% on this one” or “people preferred to copy/paste a link rather than clicking through blindly.”

      It would also raise privacy concerns in a lot of jurisdictions — seems like a lot of liability for zero usefulness.

    5. Always Be Recruiting*

      Not to go against Alison, but I’m an in-house recruiter and did have an ATS at a previous company that was capable of telling me if a candidate opened a message or not and have a sourcing tool now that will tell me if someone opens my message or clicks a link I send them. I didn’t get push notifications about it to my email or anything like that and certainly don’t care how quickly a candidate opens an email I sent them, but it is a useful feature when I would be cleaning out my pipeline and realize I emailed someone to set up a call and hadn’t heard back from them. If I saw they had opened my email but didn’t book a call, I was at least able to confirm that my initial message hadn’t gone to their spam or something.

      In the days of data-driven recruiting, looking at things like open and responses rates to sourcing messages is very much the norm! It helps with things like A/B testing email subject lines.

  7. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    LW3, the school where I teach has teachers fill out an anonymous survey annually at the end of the school year giving feedback to the administrators. My boss spends a couple of minutes at the first faculty meeting of the new school year sharing major points from her feedback. For things she’s gotten positive feedback on, she assures us she will continue to do those things – and where we’ve criticized her, she tells us what concrete steps she has in mind to improve. She also sincerely thanks us for the feedback. It’s pretty powerful modeling of how to take feedback, and makes people feel like they can be open.

    1. Smithy*

      For #3, I do think that finding a way to demonstrate that feedback will actually be incorporated and those who provide it will not be penalized is key.

      If OP #3 is the manager of a smaller team where an anonymous survey wouldn’t genuinely provided anonymity, then I think finding some kind of lower stakes issue where feedback can genuinely be taken onboard. Not something so low stakes, like their thoughts on where you’ve been ordering lunch from for catered office events – but I do think that when the questions are sweeping around “how am I as a manager” or potentially beyond your control like your department’s total budget allocation, it’s a lot easier to default to answers like “fine” or “good”.

      Lastly – OP, are you giving your staff the time and space to actually provide feedback? Do you have regular 1 on 1’s? And if so, if you get through an agenda before time is up – do you just end early or leave space to keep talking? Or do you never even have enough time to get through the agenda? When feedback is asked for, is it only through one medium or are there multiple ways to give feedback (in a 1 on 1, in writing, in a group meeting, via tracked changes on a strategy document, etc.)? Not everyone shares in the same way – so having multiple avenues can also help people share their thoughts in different ways.

    2. ferrina*

      Anonymous surveys only have as much trust as the person administering them. If you are normally open to feedback, transparent, and don’t shoot the messenger, anonymous surveys can be a great tool.

    3. Sun and clouds*

      A formal survey, even if it’s not anonymous can be helpful. It provides question prompts and time for employees to reflect on their answers rather than doing so on the spot. It can also pick out trends, even if no one identified it as a ‘serious’ issue.

      It sounds like you know your team well so knowing who is giving the feedback is key. If one of my co workers says umm, maybe…. I know I better pay attention because if she’s taking the time to speak up it’s going to be important.

      Finally returning from mat leave is a great time to ask because they have things to compare and contrast to.

  8. I'm the Phoebe in any group*

    OP1, I’m so glad you wrote in for help. I don’t see this as a delicate situation at all. It’s very black and clear: he cannot come to the event and be around children. You’re weighing hurting Beth’s feelings against putting children in danger, and there’s no contest.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t know that it’s about Beth’s feelings so much as Beth’s in a position of power here – one where it’s bizarre she didn’t make the right call herself. She’s a cofounder. It’s hard to tell a cofounder “hell no, you can’t do that”. Not because of feelings but because a cofounder is likely to have a “I decide what I can and can’t do here” POV, and yet, what she’s decided is going to hurt people AND the org, and she should at minimum care about not doing the latter, even if she’s horrible and doesn’t care about the first. It’s really a “how” question.

      1. yala*

        I had a high school friend whose husband was discharged and arrested for possessing cp. AFAIK, she’s spend years acting like it’s just straight up not true and never happened. I think that’s what a lot of spouses do if they stay–just refuse to acknowledge it at all.

        I really don’t know where/how they are now. The last I remember was her complaining that her husband couldn’t move to our state (she’d moved in with her grandmother when they hit a financial pit) without paying a fee to distribute warning pamphlets to the neighbors or something. I’d been hoping that her time away from him would help her, but I kind of just noped out after that.

      2. I'm the Phoebe in any group*

        Great points. One of the great tjings about nonprofits is that one person dors not make a decision on a issue like this, and the founder has no additional power. I advise a lot a people who want to start a nonprofit for an issue/cause they feel strongly about. I always tell them to consider that once they start a nonprofit they will lose power and control and they have to be okay with that. They could become the ED, eventually paid, but the ED reports to the board and the board can fire them at any time. Or they could join the board, maybe even start out as president, but board terms are limited. So out of all the advantages of the nonprofit they need to weigh this.

  9. Educator*

    LW2, as a former administrator, I would caution that this type of unofficial work can be tricky from a records protection compliance perspective (though I also know how invaluable good IT help is!). I would be wary about any jobs where you might accidentally see records about students (or staff) to which you would not otherwise have access. Would it be possible to make this role official in some way, even just written permission from the IT team or a building administrator, to protect everyone involved and, if needed, get you any training about data protection and records that IT folks in your district might be required to take? Until then, having the device owner watch is safer for you both.

    1. EdTech in AZ*

      I came here to comment something about making this an official role. During my teaching days, we had a grant-funded committee called “Tech Cadre”. I was the rep for my school site and there was one rep for each school site. On-site, our role was to be available for technical support, and to educate our colleagues on ways to use technology in their own classrooms. A lot of teachers were not comfortable trying new things or simply didn’t have the time to explore. The cadre met once a month to share our challenges and discoveries, and generally support each other as we supported our schools.
      As a teacher, I was not that great, but I thrived at this role, and it led to me seeking my Masters in Education Technology and the work that I do today. Having it be an official part of my work gave me a lot of credibility among my peers, and the stipend was nice, too.
      Perhaps OP2 could do something similar in their district. There may be grant funding for this, but it’s definitely worth making it official.

  10. The Prettiest Curse*

    OP 1 – if you haven’t done so already, now would be a very good time to put a comprehensive and rigourously enforced policy around child abuse into place, and to make it clear that the policy applies to all board members, volunteers and staff. Unfortunately, abusers can be drawn to organisations that have lax or badly enforced policies specifically because of those policies.

    The blowback that you might receive from implementing the new policy and telling Beth and her husband not to attend the event is so much less than the consequences of an abuse scandal. If you are not prepared to have uncomfortable conversations to protect children, you should not be working with children.

    1. Retired To The Morning Room To Write My Letters*

      I agree with the need for a child protection policy, if you don’t already have one. Lots of young non-profits don’t, because they’re busy. But every non-profit working with kids will eventually face a situation where the sh*t hits the fan, and at that point the policy will be your guiding light. They’re redundant until they’re needed, but then they’re invaluable.

      Same goes for policies relating to vulnerable adults.

      If case it’s useful:
      A good place to start is to look up the child protection policies of some respected non-profits who work with children, copy-and-paste between them, and tweak to your organisation’s needs. It’s ok to copy other policies. Then, you make sure everyone on your team reads and knows it.
      That’s only to get you started quickly. After that you should take actions to make the policy ‘real’ in the minds of staff and board – eg, get Child Protection Training from an outside training provider, and do one or two sessions where staff and board review and revise your stop-gap policy to shape it around your work and make it robust.

      1. Master Procrastinator*

        Wow! Is it incredibly naive of me to be so shocked by the concept of new not for profit organisations who work with kids and are fully operational without a child protection policy? I’ve worked in the (UK) not for profit sector for twenty years and have never come across this. It would be such a huge red flag!

        1. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

          That’s interesting. I’ve worked in the UK not-for-profit sector too and found a few young organisations that didn’t (hence my comment above) and actually most of them were good orgs! Responsible. In one organisation, excellent child protection BEHAVIOUR was baked into their work, and the staff were experienced and wise enough to have great instincts, and child safety was regularly discussed and reviewed, but without an actual policy eventually a situation came along where it wasn’t clear what the staff member should do (it would have been clear if there’s been a policy) and that produced a bit of a mess.

  11. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Letter 2. Oh 20 odd years in IT teaches a lot about human interaction and I also really dislike people getting close to me.

    If I’m fixing something that they could possibly learn and do themselves and they’re standing too close I’ll ask if they want me to walk them through it and if so ask them to sit down.

    If the fix is something that really requires years of experience and knowledge to deal with (I do not want end users editing the registry) I’ll generally advise they go get a cup of tea since this’ll take a while.

    If neither works then I’ll say ‘can you stand back a bit please?’.

    Basically I try to leave an opening for learning when I can.

    (I have a spinal injury and PTSD I hate people being close behind me, but being defensive has never worked with end users)

  12. WatchingCanBeLegit*

    LW2 there are many legitimate reasons why people may want to watch what you’re doing. If they use specific settings, especially for a disability, that others might change and leave their computer in a state they can’t access, for instance. Letting anyone else touch my computer is beyond stressful and it’s much worse when I can’t watch them like a hawk.

    1. yala*

      Honestly, for me, it’s that there really isn’t much else I *can* do most of the time. I can’t really get leave my cubicle for a walk-about if it’s not a break, and if there isn’t any actual *work* I can do away from my cubicle… *shrug*

  13. Green great dragon*

    #2, I would never walk away from my logged-in computer unless I’m officially handing it over to IT. It’s been drilled into me. I’m sure you’d never take advantage of it, but you’ve got access to personal info and confidential child info, right? Even if it’s just their latest performance review.

    I agree they are extremely unlikely to be critical if you take a few false steps on the way. They have asked you for help. If they start thinking they could do just as well, great, saves you the bother.

    1. ZSD*

      I was coming to say roughly the same thing. I would always watch to make sure the person wasn’t reading my email, downloading porn, whatever.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I mean, I wouldn’t walk away completely, but that doesn’t mean you have to hover. You can just be nearby in case you’re needed.

    3. LtBarclay*

      Same! If it was an official IT person then they have been cleared to have access to the info already (usually they are remotely logging into my computer anyway), but if I walked away from a regular coworker working on my computer? I would expect to get in trouble if found out, no matter how trustworthy I personally know the coworker to be.

      That might just be because I work at a bank so they are very serious about security.

  14. lifebeforecorona*

    LW1 Since the arrest and charges are public, the odds are that more people know than you are aware. Imagine the optics of someone publicly confronting him at this event. There are people out there who’s life mission is to confront and post on social media. Your organization may never recover from the stain.

    1. EmmaPoet*

      This is an excellent point, which I think takes on more urgency considering that they were tipped off as to the charges. Someone decided to make very sure they know about them, and that suggests to me that they (or someone else) might be willing to publicly confront Tom and/or Beth. All it takes is one person who decides to film it, and and your organization would be sunk.

  15. Violet Fox*

    #2 How trained are you in the legal aspects of deal with IT within a school, including records access etc where you are? I get that you are well meaning but I would honestly be very wary of doing much IT help for people unless you are familiar with the legal aspects of IT where you are.

    There is a big difference between technical assess and legal access, especially in education.

    Talk to IT and see what they say about what is actually helpful and what is not a good idea for you to touch.

    What we did for our IT office to keep some personal space and to make it so that people were not literally breathing down our necks is to put in chairs in a way that is very inviting for the people coming in for help, but also helps us to maintain our own personal space and boundaries. It ended up being a big win from the perspective of our users as well because it makes the space feel a lot more inviting.

    1. Dragon_Dreamer*

      This. In IT, we call it Scope of Support. OP #2, please clarify with IT what yours is. It’s very possible that something you fix can actually screw up something that you can’t even see or know about on IT’s end. Even something as simple as undocumented changes to a computer can make it harder for actual techs to do their jobs later. It’s awesome you’re able to help out, but make sure IT is aware, and maybe they can give you training.

      Example: Student’s Chromebook b0rks to the point of being unusable, say all the settings are messed up. Google says to Powerwash it. (Reformat/Reinstall) HOWEVER, what Google doesn’t tell you is that this is the procedure for personal devices ONLY. Your school may require other steps to be done first or instead, to allow the Chromebook to connect to the network afterwards.

      I had to tell my techs at the Bent Metal Fastener to quit touching Chromebooks from the local schools for this very reason. Their attempts to Powerwash resulted in a machine that wouldn’t connect to the school network until the school’s IT folks reset it again with their procedures. Wasted money for the customer, who was always justifiably VERY angry.

      1. Violet Fox*

        To add to this, IT needs to know if things are breaking in a regular way, or if something is broken for multiple people because that usually means a systematic issue that they need to fix. It is very hard to fix problems you don’t know about.

        Speaking as an IT person, we badly want people to come to us, to report problems so that we know about them and can fix them.

        Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of those fixes actually break more things and break them worse in the long run as well.

        Because we are talking about a school, I’m also going to emphasise yet again being up to date about all of the legal aspects of data handling for the school, because this stuff is seriously complex. Mishandling anything to do with student data is not something you want to do.

      2. Brian*

        LW2 here: IT and the admiration is fine with what I do, as it often allows the IT people to avoid unneeded house calls. IT sometimes asks me to have a look at a work order to see if I can fix it.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          Awesome. Just make sure you document every thing you do, even if they haven’t asked you to. :) It never hurts to CYA!

    2. STG*

      Yea, I’m an IT manager and this would be a big no no in my environment. You could easily cause a bigger problem for IT. It also sounds like you aren’t really authorized to be doing things under someone else’s logins either. This is creating a risk for both you and the person that you are trying to help.

  16. TheProblemWithEyes*

    Alison and LW1 – you need to adjust the terminology you’re using here. Child pornography doesn’t exist, because the word pornography implies consent and children cannot consent to sexual activities. The words you need are “child sexual abuse imagery” because it is imagery of children being sexually abused.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Thanks for this point – it’s extremely important. Using “CP” implies that the material is inherently titillating, which minimises the offence. How we use language affects how we think, so it’s important to make the switch. If you find “images of child abuse” shocking, it’s kind of meant to be, but you could change to “indecent images of children” if you are trying to be more neutral.

      Regardless, the presumption of innocence here is about whether Tom committed the specific offence he is charged with, not the content of the images.

  17. Irish Teacher*

    LW2, as a teacher, I would have absolutely no problem with it if our unofficial IT guy (and we do have one) simply said something like “would you mind leaving this with me and getting on with something else while I work on it?” or “I need a bit of space to concentrate on this. You go take a break and I’ll let you know when I’m done.”

    As a teacher, it’s not that unusual for somebody to ask me if they could speak to my class or a student in private, so “could you step away for a while and I’ll let you know when I’m done?” isn’t that unusual a request.

  18. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    #1 – I’m surprised that an NPO having any dealings with children does not have written child safeguarding procedures already. But I come from a country where this is a legal requirement, and I’ve held a safeguarding lead role so I’m well versed in the consequences of not following them.

    There are a lot of harmless behaviours which look an awful lot like harmful behaviours – is that friendly side hug innocent or part of a grooming campaign? Someone who is alert to best practice avoids even the possible appearance of misconduct. And the way to be alert is TRAINING.

    It is absolutely unremarkable for someone charged with an offence to absent themselves from relevant events whilst maintaining their innocence and with the organisation officially supporting the presumption of innocence (including where the organisation believes the accusation to be vexatious and entirely false). The only way to be fair to everybody is to treat everybody the same and not make any assessment of the accusations but leave that to the authorities. That’s how you show that you take the general topic seriously.

    I’ll also note that it’s very common for any parent with a pending charge relating to SA or violence to be kept away from their children. I know of someone who could only see his children at supervised visitation until he was cleared, even though there was never any suggestion that he had directly harmed them.

    I guess it’s all “what would you want to happen if it turned out to be true?” – it’s the equivalent of treating a twisted ankle as if it might be broken right up until you see a clear x ray.

    Beth should not have RSVPed for Tom. I think it shows bad judgement at best, and potentially that she is not in a safe situation at home. I hope she has other support.

    I think OP should definitely escalate their concerns as high as necessary to ensure that Tom does not attend.

    1. Ellis Bell.*

      I completely agree that this would be an unremarkable request. In fact, OP considers the avoidance of the event to be so much a matter of common sense that they were surprised at the RSVP. They should go in on that vein and say that if they are so far out of line with general practice it will reflect badly on all of them, Tom and his wife most of all. Say that this is also the time to formalise the most common safeguarding practices so everyone is clear that it’s the S.O.P for any accusation and not a matter of determining guilt. I also agree with the pencilling in a concern that Beth is not safe at home or free to manouvre as she would like. Hopefully that is just an overcautious concern – but there’s all sorts of reasons that you should not leave it to her; the most benign being that she just thinks it is flatly ridiculous.

  19. No Clever Pseudonym*

    ou could try an exercise that I found really helpful. Have your direct reports provide feedback for you as a group. Give them some guiding questions (What about my management style is working well? What would you like to improve/be done differently?) and then let them meet and discuss (without you, of course) and write a 1-2 page group feedback report for you. They get to control what is given to you and how the information is provided so they can ensure their comments are anonymized within the group to their comfort level. Once you’ve read it, take some time to digest and then meet with them to talk about how you’ll put their feedback into actionable change

  20. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

    and potentially that she is not in a safe situation at home.

    I thought that too. Not necessarily that she’s in immediate danger, but wondering how much room she would have to tell him “You shouldn’t come to this event” without it turning into a heated row between the two of them, “don’t you trust me” etc.

    She might well be relieved to have someone else set the boundary, so he can’t take it as indicative of whether she personally believes him.

    1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      (oops, nesting fail – that was meant to follow on from “General von Klinkerhoffen” above)

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      There’s some good suggestions in other comments about how to pitch it as “this makes Tom look better too” so the absence isn’t taken to indicate guilt.

    3. Dragon_Dreamer*

      Yeah, that was the point of my comment above. She may have been told by him to RSVP for both of them, or he may even have sent it. She’s also probably deep in the FOG. Even if someone else sets the boundary, though, he may still take it out on her. :/

  21. DrSalty*

    #2 – people are doing that because they want to know what you’re doing to fix the problem, probably so they can replicate it later if necessary

    1. AngryOctopus*

      That doesn’t change the fact that someone hovering over you can make you uncomfortable. I would just say “It may take me a bit to get this sorted out. Why do you go get a coffee, and when I’ve got it fixed I’ll show you how to address it if it happens again.” That way I get my space, the person gets the issue fixed, and then I can walk them through the solution minus the steps I may have tried that didn’t lead to anything.

  22. Ex-prof*


    You know what seems weird to me? And I know it’s the law and it’s unlikely to change any time soon, but…

    With all the hate being spewed over politics these days, it often seems like political hatred is being used as a stand-in for the old-school hatreds. Because at least in the US, if you’re a POC, a woman, a member of a religion other than the majority one, an immigrant, or LGBTQ+, you’re more likely to support one political party than the other. So the lines are well enough drawn that those who want to spew hatred can just slot in politics instead of racism or misogyny or etc, and they’ll be legally –and, it often seems to be assumed, morally– in the clear.

    I hope it’s not breaking the rule about politics to mention this, because I’m talking about how it affects the workplace.

    1. PlainJane*

      I honestly think they should bring the legal definition closer to the colloquial definition in general to address situations like this, which should be illegal no matter what the particular cause of bullying is. It should never be all right to berate and humiliate an employee, even it’s about job performance. (Yeah, the manager has the right, even responsibility, to correct a bad behavior… but not in earshot of the whole office with the deliberate intent to belittle someone.)

  23. Delta Delta*

    #2 – I suspect maybe some people sort of hover nearby because they don’t know what to do with themselves otherwise. They’ve asked for a favor, they don’t want to put you out too much, and they don’t want to seem like they’re just kicking back while you deal with their problem. Alison’s suggestions about what to say are spot-on – they give you a little bit of breathing room and they also give the other person permission to back away and not feel helpless.

    1. Brian*

      LW2 here: I think that’s exactly the problem. They’ve asked me for a favor and would feel guilty going off and doing something else.

      1. CheeryO*

        I think most people would take the hint if you just said, “I might need a few minutes to think and try some things – would you want to go get a coffee or something?” I don’t think you need to make it out to be some weird thing about your personal space.

  24. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I want to give Beth an ounce of grace here and suggest maybe she’s so used to RSVPing for herself and Tom that she just sort of reflexively did it without thinking. If someone on the board goes to her and says Tom can’t attend (which they should do), she may have a *smacks forehead* moment and says of course she understands he can’t attend. If she argues then you know you have a Beth problem.

    1. Clobberin’ Time*

      Whether or not she had a “reflexive” reaction she’s had plenty of time to withdraw the RSVP. It’s unfathomable that it wouldn’t have occurred to her. More likely she just wants to pretend everything is normal.

  25. Contracts Killer*

    LW1 – Attorney here and I advise several nonprofits. First, if I was counsel to your organization, I would push back on the idea that “[t]here is no point that Tom would be alone or unsupervised with children other than his own.” You cannot guarantee that. It only takes a moment in the food line, going down the hall to the restroom, etc., to do or say something inappropriate with a child. Also, your organization is aware of the pending charges, which puts a higher burden of responsibility on them to protect children from this potential predator.

    I agree with other commenters who have suggested putting written policies in place regarding interactions with children. In addition, if you aren’t already, I would ensure that all volunteers (including staff and board members) have had a background check, perhaps updated annually. That wouldn’t necessarily have prevented your current situation, but it could help with future issues.

    If your organization is too small to have in-house counsel, you could call some of the large law firms in your area to ask if anyone is providing pro bono services. Often lawyers are looking for (or even mandated in some states) pro bono work.

    Using Alison’s advice from other articles, when approaching the board, instead of a tone and language of “is this ok and will you stop it?” frame it as”of COURSE you understand this isn’t ok and you plan to stop it.”

    1. Yes, THIS!*

      First, if I was counsel to your organization, I would push back on the idea that “[t]here is no point that Tom would be alone or unsupervised with children other than his own.” You cannot guarantee that. It only takes a moment in the food line, going down the hall to the restroom, etc., to do or say something inappropriate with a child.

      THANK YOU! I was coming to post this very thing. LW #1, is your organization planning to assign a bodyguard to Tom that will stick to him like glue from the moment he leaves his house to the moment he enters it again after the event? No? Then you have NO f*cking way to prove that he’ll never have a chance to abuse children through the event.

      Also, from LW1:
      Our team is very small and inexperienced at nonprofit management and we don’t have an HR or legal department.

      This isn’t an “inexperienced team” issue. You don’t need to be experienced in your job to know that someone charged with CSAM possession should not be around children while the case is ongoing. What the actual f*ck? (I’m not going off on LW specifically, but at the absurdity of the whole situation. This should be a total no-brainer.)

      1. tg33*

        If you are working (or volunteering) with children you need to have child safeguarding training and policies in place. If you don’t have these, you should not be dealing with children.

  26. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #3

    I once solicited feedback from my team as part of a company-led leadership program. I asked my senior person to get together with the other team members and think about things I could do better, what they want to see more/less of, etc. I then said to type it up in one Word document with no names attached to the comments. It worked really well. I got some good feedback and people didn’t worry I’d know who said what. Maybe try something like this?

  27. English Rose*

    #5 I think some of the responses here assume that emails from recruiters are from their work email in-boxes. As others have said, recruiters aren’t mostly going to use read receipts on these, and if they do, your email client will point it out.

    However you rightly mention applicant tracking systems and analytics. If emails from recruiters are generated from within the ATS, then depending on the system and the circumstances, yes your responses can sometimes be tracked.

    But that still doesn’t mean recruiters are sitting around waiting to see if you’ve opened your email. A likely scenario is they’ve been trying to get in touch unsuccessfully, then they may go into the ATS to check the audit trail to see if there’s any obvious reason, like you haven’t logged in to open your email.

  28. MuseumChick*

    Others have already said it but I want to add another voice to LW 1. Please follow Alison’s advice! You can frame it from the standpoint of protecting the organization and the absolute terrible press y’all would get if he is seen there.

  29. Purple Loves Snow*

    To OP #1:
    In my country (not USA) when one is arrested for child sexual abuse material (aka child porn), and then released they are released on several conditions and one of the big ones is to not be around children. He may be in breach of his release conditions.

  30. ABCYaBYE*

    RE Letter 1 – I’ve worked for boards for years, and have “hidden” behind a board’s decisions in a number of situations. Like, “the board made the decision and I have to go with it,” when delivering bad news, or “that’s something I can’t decide on my own and will have to take it to the board” when it is a decision I didn’t want to make on my own. The LW definitely needs to loop the board in and let them have a conversation with Beth. Even if they’re connected to the organization because of their connection to Beth, they’re serving on a board that helps govern an organization that is child-focused. It is absolutely their responsibility to step in, if for no other reason than the awful optics of having someone charged with child pornography being at an event with children. Tom’s attendance puts the entire organization’s mission, and potential funding sources, at risk.
    And honestly, if the board does nothing, I’d be tempted to call the authorities anonymously if Tom attends the event. Your job in that organization is to help children, and if he’s there, there’s potential risk for those children.
    Perhaps everything is a misunderstanding and Tom is innocent. But until everything plays out, you absolutely cannot have him at this event. He doesn’t HAVE to be there and there’s no harm to him in not attending.

  31. One HR Opinion*

    LW #1 – One more in the Tom ABSOLUTELY should not come column. I like the idea of phrasing it like it may have been a mistake on Beth’s part. “Oh, Beth, I noticed you accidentally RSVPd for Tom to come to the event. Just wanted to let you know well be correcting it to show only you and the kids will be there.” What I say when someone questions certain safety-sensitive decisions like this – we have to be extra careful and we definitely don’t wan to end up on channel 5 news!

  32. One HR Opinion*

    LW #2 – Obviously I’m in HR – I never leave IT alone with my computer when they’re doing something that only takes a few minutes – e.g. 20 minutes or less. I trust my IT staff, but I stay for 2 reasons: 1. I have to make sure no one is accessing information they shouldn’t be and 2. I do like to see how they troubleshoot. If they have to Google something or take a while to figure out something I couldn’t, it actually makes me feel better that it wasn’t just a “oh, open this and click here” solution :)

    So, ask them to have a seat a reasonable distance away and they’ll be so grateful for your help that they won’t be evaluating your methods.

  33. Brian*

    LW2 here: Thanks for all the great feedback. As for legal issues about my accessing confidential student information, as a teacher, I already have access to that info (my classes cover every student in the building, so they are all ‘my’ students). However, I can see people’s points about my accessing logged-in personal email, social media, etc. (though I would never do that, of course). As for people wanting to know how I solve a problem, I always explain it afterwards, and there’s no point in them taking notes on my first five or six unsuccessful attempts to fix an issue. I think people just feel guilty about asking me for a favor and then wandering off. It’s like asking someone to lift something heavy for you…even if you can’t help, you feel you should hang around.

    1. ABCYaBYE*

      This is great. I think asking people to give you a little space so you can focus is awesome. Perhaps even just telling them in advance that you’ll be happy to share how you did what you did once the task is complete will help them feel like they don’t need to hover.

    2. Violet Fox*

      The other issue is that you are messing about in their login, which could hold them liable for something you do.

      You also might or might not be helping IT as much as you think you are, and should have a conversation with them before you continue.

      1. Brian*

        Trust me, I started in this role 17 years ago, and the IT department is happy for me to troubleshoot any issues I’m comfortable with and sometimes asks me to take a look at something before they come out. When I am fixing a device, my first step is always to log in as myself.

    3. Maia*

      When I was teaching I used my personal laptop because my school laptop was too heavy for me to take home on public transportation, and I always felt incredibly uncomfortable having the IT person install something on it, especially if they wanted admin access to do it. There wasn’t anything specific I was worried about them doing, I just like to keep track of exactly how my laptop is configured and it felt really upsetting for someone else to do something on it that I couldn’t see. (In retrospect I really should have just asked for a smaller school laptop!) Just wanted to offer that perspective in case some of these are personal computers.

      How about either “this is probably going to take me some trial and error, do you want to troubleshoot with me or do you want me to let you know when I’m done?” or “this is probably going to take some trial and error, if you’re ok leaving it with me I can bring it back / contact you when I’m done.” So if people had special reasons for not wanting to leave it with you (that weren’t just not wanting to be rude by leaving) they could let you know.

      1. Maia*

        This also comes to mind:
        It can be pretty empowering to learn that “tech experts” are often doing exactly this and it makes the field less intimidating when that isn’t hidden! (but I also totally understand wanting to focus without someone hovering)

  34. Colin Broccoli*

    I feel like there’s been a lot of ablest language in the responses lately, calling people insane, crazy, etc and it’s really putting me off the site.

    1. Stitch*

      I’m confused. I just did a search for “crazy” and “insane” on this page and literally the only results are your comment.

      1. Colin Broccoli*

        #5 “No sane recruiter or hiring manager is paying attention to whether someone has opened an email”

        Try searching the main page. Yesterday had a bunch of “insane” comments from Alison.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think you’ll find that we need a way to say “This is irrational” “This is out of touch with social norms” “This is out of touch with reality” etc and there is no way to do that and not wind up with a synonym for “person displaying a mental health problem that would cause them to be irrational, out of touch with social norms, or out of touch with reality.”

          You could train everyone here to say “this person’s behavior is wildly disconnected from reality” rather than “insane” and in six months people will point out that “wildly disconnected from reality” is obviously a synonym for “insane.”

          1. ABCYaBYE*

            Thank you for saying what I was trying to say but couldn’t find the right words to say.

            There are many definitions of “crazy” and “insane” and not all of them are describing mental health problems.

            And I think most readers on this site are very conscientious and wouldn’t describe a person exhibiting mental health problems with those terms.

        2. Stitch*

          Vague policing of language is a good way to destroy a forum. Calling out concrete examples is one thing but vague complaining is not.

            1. Stitch*

              Which again, didn’t occur on this page. Alison using the word “sane” in a response is not the same thing. Policing her language to this extent isn’t a kind or helpful thing to do.

  35. Hmmm*

    LW1 I’m curious, has Beth addressed the situation? Communication came through company Chanel’s, pictures were removed. I could see Beth being embarrassed even try to sweep her personal situation under the rug but this event is not the time or place for her husband revamping his image. Has the board considered asking beth to take a step back temporarily?

  36. HugeTractsofLand*

    OP1 / LW1: I work in school IT, so I feel your pain! My guess is that the people who stare are hoping to learn how you fixed things. They want to know if you clicked the same thing they clicked, if they missed something obvious, etc.. I suggest saying “This might take a while, can you give me some space? I’ll show you what I did when I figure it out.” Sometimes I also blatantly turn with their laptop so they can’t see the screen or take it away with me saying “I’ll bring it right back!” Ultimately your co-workers are benefiting from your (very kind!) efforts, so it’s not a big ask to ask them to back up…and being teachers, I’m sure they have a thousand tasks they could do besides stare. Good luck!

  37. Clefairy*

    I work for a software with an ATS that does track read receipts, and our clients definitely do use this feature. Generally not to judge someone, but rather to judge a situation- “I’ve never gotten a response from applicant, oh it looks like they opened my email 5 days ago, I’m going to go ahead and assume they are no longer interested” or “Oh, I’ve never gotten a response from applicant- it looks like they’ve never opened my email, I wonder if it got caught by my spam filter. Let me give them a quick call to follow up”

    1. Always Be Recruiting*

      I second all of this! Or I have a sourcing tool that can track open and click rates–it’s really helpful to understand if my email subject is landing or if any supplemental info I may link to is getting viewed.

  38. Daisy-dog*

    #4 – I worked for him! It was awful because I never felt comfortable going to him to discuss things. He never acted like that in one-on-one meetings with me though – even when I was discussing things that were very sensitive, but I always felt like it could happen. Ultimately, I was let go from the job at the start of the panorama, so never came to a resolution. Though shortly before that happened, he did move his office to the other side of the building, so I was no longer subjected to his yelling & profanity. He was a C-suite level, but not the CEO. I possibly could have gone to the CEO (who I had a good relationship with), but it would be hard to ensure I presented the data objectively and didn’t come across too sensitive.

    Good luck! It’s hard. Do you have a colleague on your team that is also bothered by him? Maybe you can work together to go above him.

  39. TootsNYC*

    It would be in Tom’s best interests to not attend. I can’t imagine doing so would help his court case or his community standing.
    He needs to be squeaky clean and low-profile.
    That might be one of the point’s I’d make to Beth.

    And him not touching kids is actually not the problem–is he going to take pictures of my kid? I don’t want to find out that even carefree snaps of my kid playing have ended up on that part of the internet.

    1. Observer*

      Sure, it would be better *for Tim* for him not to attend. And if that’s what gets Beth to see reason ON THIS ISSUE, so be it.

      But this is not the OP’s problem, nor that of the organization.

      And in the long term, if that is the only reason he stays away, that’s an indication that there is a significant problem there.

      1. definitely not a lawyer*

        But this is not the OP’s problem, nor that of the organization

        It absolutely is the org’s problem. He was arrested for CSAM. This is public knowledge. This event involves children. There could be (& rightly so) serious repercussions/blow back on the org if it came to light that they were aware of the charges and still allowed him to attend.

        1. Observer*

          What I meant is about the organization’s problem is that the organization does not need to worry about what is in *Tim’s* best interests. ONLY what is in the interests of the organization and the children and families it serves.

          The fact that in this case – attendance at this event – the two things overlap is nice but that’s not something the organization should be focusing on. Because if it comes to a situation where the two sets of interests don’t align the Board needs to ignore what’s best for Tim.

    2. bamcheeks*

      For me it’s also, is he going to run into my kid two or three years down the line, and say, “hey, you remember me right? Tom? I met you with your parents at that thing? How’s your mom doing? And your little sister?”

      A lot of people seem to think safeguarding is simply about making sure that no abusive activity happens at your event! But it’s also about making sure that *where there’s a reasonable suspicion that someone is a predator* doesn’t have the opportunity to build a rapport with children or present themselves as a trustworthy or authoritative figure.

  40. Hiring Mgr*

    Since Beth is a cofounder and board member, someone etiher on the board or in the NP leadership must know her well enough to talk to her, even in a “Are you sure it’s a good idea to bring Tom” kind of way

    It would be very strange for someone not to have that conversation with her

    1. TomatoSoup*

      Agreed. To avoid Beth getting defensive, that person could focus on how it would look. Stick to the amorphous “people” rather than any one person in particular. e.g. “People will think…”

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      The words are: You can’t bring Tom. Tom is no longer invited.

      Full stop. It doesn’t matter if Beth thinks he’s innocent, it doesn’t matter anything. This is an event that Tom is going to miss.

      See: 700 posts by Alison about the dangers of softening your language too much.

  41. Riot Grrrl*

    #4 Addressing the political part of this complaint, I find this so disheartening.

    Perhaps I’m naive, but I’m a firm believer in respecting people–even those you disagree with–under the assumption that until proven otherwise, people are generally coming to their views in good faith based on wherever they’ve come from. For that reason, I’ve tried to set an example on my own team by couching my rare political opinions in terms like, “I understand that well-meaning people can disagree about this, but…” or “Maybe other people here have other opinions, but I’ve always thought that…” I’m way more interested in conversation and discussion than I am in name-calling and proving I’m right about everything.

  42. Essess*

    LW2 – I am responsible for any activity on my laptop/computer. I will not leave it unattended with another person, especially if it is logged in under my id. As someone in IT, you should be encouraging people to follow security rules, not get upset about it.

  43. Anonsy*

    Yes talking to the board is the first step. But if the board doesn’t step up, you need to think about what you will be doing in response to that. Do you want to be associated with an organization that allows people accused of crimes against children to attend events with children? If people find out and it’s splashed across the news page, do you forever want to be tarred with the brush of working for that org during that time when you apply to new jobs? Do you want to live with the guilt of letting a person accused of crimes against children around children for the rest of your life?

    Coming from a family with a lot of mandated reporters, in situations like this I tend to think: What would a mandated reporter do? So, I’d report. To the police, to CPS, to whomever would listen to me. For this sort of thing, I’d quit and report to the gosh darn news because I wouldn’t be able to live knowing an organization puts children at risk like this. Any look at the news can tell you the terrible impact of people not coming forward because they struggled to not rock the boat.

    It’s a terrible situation to be in, good luck.

    1. GreenShoes*

      I had to change my name for this comment… because I have a similar ‘guiding principle’ that I’ve used at work (and in my personal life) that I think would apply here. I’m known for this which is why I’ve had to name change.

      The 3 things I want to avoid wherever possible …
      1. Hospitals
      2. Police
      3. Media

      I used to say this when I managed field employees. I always told them to let the above guide your actions. If something you are thinking of doing will result in involvement with one of the above, it’s probably best to choose a different course of action.

      If I were talking direct to LW1, I’d say that having this person attend the event could realistically involve all three.

  44. Carol the happy elf*

    There seems to be a common thread with sex offenders; they seem to have behaviors and assume rights that the innocent would be too shell-shocked (and certainly too socially conscious,) to presume to.
    If I am falsely accused of being a cat burglar, a black ski mask and a lockpick set simply wouldn’t be on my shopping list. If I own a black ski mask, I would probably not wear it to the bank, right?


    In my friends’ home state, there’s a sex offender who recently (Halloween) showed up where his elementary school teacher girlfriend works. (hint-SCHOOL! With CHILDREN!!)
    He went into the school dressed as Prince Charming (she was Cinderella) and they posed for photos.
    Next, he’s forbidden to be at parks and playgrounds, but he lives in an HOA property, and that is a private property issue, so the HOA playground is just peachy, no?

    They keep going to places that “might” be gray areas legally, but are morally so far beyond reason that reason can’t exist there.
    Tom and Beth obviously do not respect the sensitivity of others’ rights.
    “Innocent Tom” would be “Aware Tom”. He would not try to shove his presence into the sensitivities of families or hijack the event, to gratify his feelings of entitlement.

    1. Grammar Penguin*

      I have to disagree with your last sentence. “Innocent Tom” could absolutely be completely un-self-aware and feel entitled to believe he can act as if none of this is happening. I could easily imagine someone being innocent of the charge but acting so entitled to normal treatment, or so loudly offended at the suggestion that they acknowledge the accusation that they trigger a presumption of guilt in others, sort of the old “methinks the lady doth protest too much” response.

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        I’m also really suspicious of any attempt to assume guilt based on someone’s response to an emotionally-charged situation since I’ve been reading lately of people being wrongly accused and even convicted based on their tone of voice when they called 911 to report the crime. Apparently if you don’t sound exactly like what operators and police expect you to sound like, if you’re too calm or whatever, they will assume you actually did it.

        1. Just Another Tired US Fed*

          Sorry, but no. This is CSAM we are talking about here. Lots of denial among child abusers.

          Law enforcement can assume whatever they want, evidence is still needed.

      2. münchner kindl*

        20 years ago, I could believe innocent Tom feeling entitled to keep doing normal things.

        But there has been so much public discussion, so many articles, even movies, about predators, child abuse (sexual abuse) that I have a hard time buying that. (Unless Tom lives in a special bubble where norms of how to treat people are heavily skewed.

        Especially because Tom didn’t come from a remote island: his wife Beth works on a charity for children! So he should be more aware than the average office dude who likes Star Trek about the problem of child abuse.
        And that Beth’s charity has not started with written rules – copies, as suggested above, from big NGOs – or a culture of “these rules protect children’s wellbeing and adults’ reputation” – does not put Beth / the charity in a good light.

        Yes, some orgs and some people are innocently clueless. But when you start an NGO, you have a duty to the people who volunteer there, the sponsors who donate and the people you want to help to get information quickly and run it professionally.
        The purpose of an NGO is not for personal reasons of the founder, but to serve the mission to help others, and being unprofessional not only fails at helping, it can even damage others. (Including the problem of the wide brush – one charity fails the local community, and some people will be turned off from donating time or money to any charity because “Who can you trust?”).

  45. Victimized*

    Just to give a bit more color on situations like this….even when they did do it, even when they’re arrested, sometimes for some stupid reason they’re not charged. My father looked at & was arrested for CP and wasn’t charged, even though he unquestionably did it.

    Create the distance from these awful people NOW.

  46. Forgot my name again*

    LW2: for persistent hoverers, you could always get them to do the troubleshooting, sit behind them and say “try googling the error code”, “okay, that didn’t work, what about trying this?” – I am the chimp at the keyboard when my hardware-engineer partner walks me through solutions. We go through a lot of trial and error, and it probably takes a bit longer, but it helps me understand the thought patterns that they go through, and enables me to figure later issues out on my own (or when I can’t, I can then go “I’ve tried this, this and this and it’s still not working”, which hopefully saves them a bit of time).

    1. Firebird*

      I enjoy teaching, so I enthusiastically explain in minute detail the whys and hows of what I’m doing. They either go away or offer to pay me to stop teaching.

  47. Tupac Coachella*

    LW #3: One of the ways that I try to build a culture where it’s ok to offer me critical feedback as a supervisor is being really comfortable with being critical of myself, and transparent about what I do with criticism. I shoot for phrasing that’s kind of like the bluntest form of the way I’d want to receive it from someone else, not a bunch of “OMG, I’m the worst, I can’t believe I did that.” For example, I might say something like “I made a bad call on the Sedona account. I’ve already reached out to offer a replacement order, and going forward I’ll make sure I take the local climate into account when I choose materials for the llama sarapes. Did you notice any other gaps we need to consider?” When I bring my team in on the process of finding solutions, they have a chance see my approach to constructive criticism in action without having to be the one to call me out (plus my team is smart and they have good ideas).

  48. Peaceandlove*

    For #3, is it possible to have step meetings, or whatever those are called? It’s where your manager has a meeting with your direct reports to ask for their feedback, see how things are going, etc. My very first job at a government agency did this and I really liked it. No other job I’ve been at since then has done it, and I wish they would! It’s a good way to talk to your “grandboss” and they can get feedback that your manager might not otherwise get directly.

  49. Middle Aged Lady*

    What I hate aboit LW1’s dilemma is that money and the hurt feelings of a big donor are being weighed against kids’ welfare.
    I worked in one non-profit. This kind of decision was made three times in the 2 years I was there. Handsy, inappropriate donors were not disciplined or kept from events, despite assurances they would be. Sick.

  50. Recruiting Operations Manager*

    LW 5 – there are absolutely recruiting technologies that tell you if candidates open your emails. Generally, these are used by recruiters when they’re sourcing passive candidates and email open rate is something that’s tracked to see if their messaging is engaging to candidates. There are also interview scheduling technologies that tell you if a candidate opened their interview confirmation, which coordinators use to confirm that a candidate has received the message if they haven’t confirmed they’re attending the interview. In the general ATS, emails are logged in an activity feed and there is no need to track if they’re opened, etc. as the recruiter is actively connecting with the candidate. Recruiters generally work through the ATS and not their email inbox.

  51. Lindumgirl*

    This is a query, rather than a comment. In the UK charities have safeguarding policies and procedures unless they have involvement with children or vulnerable adults. and the trustees should get training on safeguarding. A family day,even if not part of the main purposes would count. In a situation like in LW1 it would be referred to the person responsible for safeguarding. Is there an equivalent expectation in the USA?

  52. Cari*

    @LW1, a counterpoint: No way in hell am I leaving someone alone with my logged in computer! I also do not *want* somebody to walk away while I’m troubleshooting their computer. (And for god’s sake, stop trying to tell me your password, gah, just type it.)

    Security awareness is an essential thing to have as official or unofficial IT, and the LW should be helping their colleagues learn it/internalize it.

    LW, this is not working on a family member’s computer, this is a *work* computer and the person assigned to it should absolutely not be leaving you alone with it and absolutely should be observing your actions. They should be even for official IT. And you, as not-actually-IT should want that, in case something goes awry (eg, some of the best case alternatives presented to LW 1). If you can’t accept the oversight, then you need to limit your IT assistance to family and friends, non-work computers only.

    Perhaps you can reframe the observation as part of the IT process and make it less uncomfortable for you? And you can absolutely explain it your process, and that it will look like a lot of trial and error, because that’s how troubleshooting works, and that might also mitigate some of your discomfort.

  53. Your Social Work Friend*

    LW1 – Others have already said this, but let me emphasize emphatically you cannot say that “There is no point that Tom would be alone or unsupervised with children ” as a defense of his attendance. It’s a common misconception that an abuser has to be alone with a child to act. They don’t. Some prefer *not* to be alone when they commit their offense. You work for an advocacy nonprofit (I don’t know who you’re advocating for, but my response applies anyway)–advocates work for those who cannot speak alone and the top of that list includes children and people who have experienced sexual abuse. Your agency 100% has an ethical responsibility as an *advocacy based nonprofit* and as people to actively advocate to keep a man who has recently been arrested and charged with possession of CSAM away from children. I wouldn’t be surprised if as a condition of his release, he’s not permitted to be around children he isn’t related to. If he’s innocent, his hurt pride at not attending this event is chump change compared to the damage he’s alleged to have caused and could potentially cause at the event.

    1. Temperance*

      This is SUCH an important point. The man who abused all those young gymnasts perpetrated in front of their parents, in most cases.

      Abusers like this are excellent at what htey do.

  54. SchuylerSeestra*

    I’m regards to LW 5, if the message was sent through outreach software, then yes we can see if the candidate opened the email. This is mostly used for passive candidates that have been sourced. In that case it’s part of an email campaign so part of it is to gauge how many people are actually responding to our messages.

  55. Just Another Tired US Fed*

    #1: Two words for you: Josh Duggar. Investigations such as this are not done quickly and charges are not made lightly. His parents and wife asserted his innocence too, despite the presence of a virtual smoking gun (ugh, they are trash people). I wouldn’t want Beth in my organization, she seems clueless. Make sure this man does not attend the event.

  56. Observer*

    #1 – I do want to add that once you get past this event, you (or your Board) needs to rethink Beth’s role. You say that you don’t want to lose her. But the problem here is that she has shown really, really bad judgement, and that now presents a problem that the Board needs to think about very carefully.

  57. Ellen N.*

    Letter writer #1.

    Please don’t let the coworker’s husband anywhere near your event. Him not being alone with children won’t ensure that he won’t harm them.

    I was molested by a friend of my parents when they were in the same room.

  58. Sybil Writes*

    Possession (or receiving or distribution or production) of child pornography is a ‘registerable’ offense, meaning one convicted of it has to register as a sex offender under federal law. (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act)
    Knowingly hosting someone with pending charges for a registerable offense at an event geared toward families and children would be very poor judgement for an ADVOCACY organization. I am not a lawyer, but I wonder if there would be legal exposure if anything unfortunate were to happen. It’s definitely not great advocacy-in-action, IMO.
    Personally, I would find it indefensible and would question my own ties to such an organization. I would not be lending my dollars to it anytime soon.
    Surely there is an attorney in your greater community who would give you an hour of pro bono or reduced rate consultation on this.

  59. Lobsterman*

    LW1: I guarantee, it gets worse from here. I’d definitely be looking for a new job, and I’d be thinking about whether or not to quit with nothing lined up and hire a lawyer to demand severance.

    What if the whole point of the org was that Beth is in on it with Tom?

  60. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    “Tom is not to come to the event.” The board needs to do the right thing.
    As do Beth and Tom because where did their logic go thinking that “Oh yeah this would be a good thing to do despite all that uh legal stuff we have going on.”
    You could sink your non profit if this got out to the public. Not good at all.

  61. Camellia*

    LW1, regarding Beth: someone please talk to her and get her take on her husband’s charges. She may surprise you in a good way, but she may stun you in a bad way that means you need to take action in relationship to her job.

    My father-in-law served two years in prison for sexually abusing his eight daughters (two different wives; one of the daughters of the second wife finally reported it at school, leading to his conviction). When he got out of prison, the second wife took him back and had TWO more children by him. (I still can’t wrap my head around that.) The first wife knew he was abusing his daughters during their marriage but did nothing about it, and the first time I met her she said to me, “Did he (my fiancé) tell you that his dad cheated on me? That he cheated on me with his own daughters?” Yep, that was her take on his actions – purely how they related to her.

    Beth may have some views that affect whether she should be involved with children at all.

  62. Catabouda*

    #2 As someone mentioned above, there is no way in hell I’m walking away from my computer while it’s actively logged in and the person working on it can make changes / do things that would look like I did them. I happen to work in health care and have extensive access to ePHI. I can’t trust someone not to be tempted if I wander off. It’s very different than me calling the help desk and them taking remote control where all of it is tracked under the helpdesk’s ID.

    Also, I’ve had it happen too many times, and it’s beyond annoying, that the IT person working on my computer decides they don’t like how I have a certain setting and changes it. “Using blah blah this way is easier.” No. Change it back now. You aren’t using this computer each day, I am. Don’t change it to your preferences.

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