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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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Four questions about pedophilia Ten years ago, I was a mandated

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Four questions about pedophilia Ten years ago, I was a mandated reporter, teaching in a small private school. Working with another teacher, I collected stories from 12 students who were abused, and reported them. The students involved in the worst cases refused to speak publicly, or even to file reports. Even without those cases, the police report included nine complaints from five students. The accused teacher pled guilty to one count of second degree assault (not a sex offense), and was sentenced to 18 months suspended, sex offender counseling, sex offender registry, three years probation. He violated probation, pled guilty to that, and got seven months incarceration. Although the District Court required that he register as a sex offender, Circuit Court set aside that part of the sentence. In 2013, the convicted offender announced on Facebook that he was going back into education. I pursued him, located him, and located the school which had hired him. He is no longer teaching there. But while I was pursuing him, I encountered obstacles that I do not understand. Perhaps you can explain, or at least point me toward articles that explain the competing interests and the way they are balanced. 1. Because I helped to collect the testimony that led to the original charges, trial, and conviction, I am aware of unreported stories of abuse that are considerably worse than the reported stories. I understand and respect the decisions made by those students, and their parents. I am still in contact with the families of the students who chose not to testify, and I am aware of the suffering they still endure. I will protect their names. Nonetheless, when I have explained what happened ten years ago, and why this teacher should not return to a school, I explain the charges and conviction and penalties – and add that I was the reporter, and I am convinced that there were incidents that occurred that were worse than the record reflects. Is there any reason why I should not add such a statement? 2. When I was searching for the school where the offender was teaching, I asked the administration of the school where he and I taught a decade ago for help. The school declined. The executive administrator said that the alleged incidents a decade ago are not their responsibility; the administration changed six years ago, and they do not have records of events under the old administration. Does the school have any obligation to maintain any records about pedophilia charges and convictions a decade ago? 3. The school where the offender was hired this year said little. The principal told me: (1)the man did work there, but (2) he is no longer there, and (3) he is not permitted on the property. The attorney for the school was annoyed that the principal told me even that much. I understand that they cannot violate a teacher’s confidential records. But if he was hired, he must have lied. Are his lies confidential? I understand further that the school did not want any adverse publicity (especially since the school has the unfortunate name “XXXXX”). I understand further that they (probably) made an error hiring the man, an error that exposed them to lawsuits, and that silence might be a necessary protection, even though they found and rectified the problem. But their silence makes it easier for the pedophile to try again elsewhere. Can you explain their silence? Is their silence a prudent legal strategy? (“Nope, yup” is a reasonable answer to that pair of vague questions, but maybe …) 4. More generally, can you indicate where I might look for information about building walls of protection against pedophilia? That is, I understand the legal penalties for pedophilia; criminal law is the key protective barrier. But it would seem to me that schools can build a different set of protections, overlapping with the legal barriers but not identical (e.g., maintaining records, but also maintaining data about interested parties). Churches can build barriers, overlapping but not identical (e.g., building or encouraging groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, but for sex offenders). Neighborhoods can build barriers (with great advantages and great pitfalls). Somebody somewhere has thought and written about protective barriers against pedophilia besides the criminal code. Who, and where? (Again, “Good luck” might be an appropriate answer from a legal advisor.) Thanks. XXXXXXX

Thank you for your questions. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

1) If you have personal knowledge of abuse that was not prosecuted or pursued by the victims, there is no law against you divulging truthful information about someone that you have knowledge of as that would not be considered defamation.

2) There is no law for the school to maintain personnel records from that long ago and there is no continuing duty to disclose the information I am afraid and the schools many times do not want to get involved in disputes, especially where his criminal conviction record is a permanent record and that can be checked by any prospective employers and his history can be discovered without the school getting involved.

3) All personnel records can be considered confidential by the employer and do not have to be disclosed. The reasons for his termination are personnel decisions that are not mandated to be disclosed to anyone, so the attorney could have prevented them from disclosing any information about any employee, past or prospective. The child abuse laws do not make provisions to circumvent that I am afraid. Again, he has a criminal record which is a permanent record and all educational facilities are supposed to by law make criminal records checks which would uncover his prior criminal charges and prevent him from working with children by state laws.

4) Schools are simply not required to maintain the records and report (other than to law enforcement as mandatory reported) to the general public any information about the employees including sexual offenses. This is something, again, that is available based on criminal records and as he was arrested there is indeed a public record of his conviction and his charges and in every state to work with children or elderly you cannot have any criminal history of such abuse and that is the protection available to the general public. However, it is not up to the schools or churches to continue to report personnel actions, even if they were for abuse (which is why you see the issues with the Catholic church not reporting reasons for a priest being transferred after a sexual abuse charge, as it is not illegal for them to not report).

You are up against the confidentiality of employee records beyond the school's mandatory reporting to law enforcement responsibilities and this would require a legislative change, which even in light of all of the Catholic church cases has not been changed by state legislatures as they rely on the criminal records of anyone convicted to provide protection of children while balancing the rights of the individual from having confidential personnel information disclosed.

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