California Librarian Fired for Reporting Man Viewing Child Porn

A library worker in the town of Lindsay, California, reported to police last week that a man was looking at child pornography on one of the library computers, and because of that tip, police arrested that man. But she also lost her job over the incident.

Brenda Biesterfeld says by calling the police, she disobeyed the direction of a supervisor. The supervisor told her to make a note on the man’s library account and tell him to stop looking at the pictures. Biesterfeld felt that the authorities needed to be alerted, so she called the police anyway. When police did get involved, they found thousands of images of child pornography. The man was arrested, and a day and a half later; Biesterfeld was out of a job.

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oh dear

It's rare that you will see a situation end badly for, literally, everyone involved. Supervisor, employee, town, pervert, trustees, mayor, etc.

I don't get these libraries that don't confront people looking at porn. Warning, ejection, banning, trespass ticket, arrest.

What's wrong with that?

Here's "What's wrong with that"

You do not have a hard and fast definition of what constitutes pornography. Untrained people will be acting as law enforcement agents and criminalizing others simply for looking at anything the incipient thought police supercop finds "offensive", and as I point out very nearly everytime: There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere. Where's Waldo, Michelangelo's David, etc ad nauseum.

There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

please

The idea that your staff can't tell the difference between a painting and a photo of a guy raping a ten year old means either you are being slightly disingenuous or your staff is f*cking retarded.

Is there anyone alive that can't tell the difference between Internet porn and everything else?

And I don't care what the finer points of the first amendment say. I say I have an overriding interest in the safety and accessibility of my library and that allowing patrons to view porn compromises that interest.

Oh, please -- my ass!

I say I have an overriding interest in the safety and accessibility of my library and that allowing patrons to view porn compromises that interest.

See, Chuck, here is where you fucked up like every reactionary asshole. You failed to properly differentiate. You do have to allow your patrons to view pornography, because pornography is protected speech. What you have a bug in your britches about is correctly referred to as "pro-sci-bable ob-scen-i-ty". And your illustration of why you are totally fucking unqualified to judge pornography is also an illustration of why ninety percent of people, at least, librarians included, are likewise unqualified.

Robert Mapplethorpe's work is not child "pornography", but I have no doubt every "We Must Protect The Children" (r)(tm)(c) asshole everywhere will say that that doesn't matter and it needs to be censored anyway.

And another thing. Has it occured to anyone that if Ms. Biesterfeld violated the civil liberties of the suspect then the case against him is fruits of a poison tree and he cannot be constitutionally tried? You've got to ask yourself just what you want here. Do you just want to roust these perverts in such a way that they get to walk, or do you want due process to be respected so they can be identified and jailed as necessary? And protecting the rights and liberties of criminals protects yours as well, and don't give me no bullshit about how you've never done anything wrong and have nothing to fear. Donald Marshall spent twenty-some years in prison because he did the right thing; he found a corpse in the snow and reported it and ended up prosecuted and jailed for a murder he did not commit.

There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

excellent points

I noticed you mentioned a dead artist and a convict no one has heard of that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. That's super.

Further I find that your logical and legal acumen are equaled only by your restraint. You are definitely not Internet-crazy or a thread-derailing troll. Not at all.

Get a Grip! or maybe you too enjoy sick perversions !??

You are obviously a pervert yourself if you think it's ok to view the types of things the library pervert was caught viewing!! In case you missed the point: the police caught him in the act of viewing porn-Not art and the police arrested him!! The librarian didn't single handedly decide he was a perv and put him in jail----THE COPS DID! And the cops are trained to know child porn from art dont ya think??
You have shown your true colors taking the attitude you have, I hope you get busted also since you obviously think it's ok to view perverted pics of little kids being molested, abused, and raped! I guess you enjoy them too! I am a mother, and thank GOD most ppl do not share your twisted views, it's because of ppl like you that this world is becoming the cesspool state that it's in now! Thank-you to Brenda Biesterfeld and the police for getting another sick twisted pervert off the streets and away from our children!

Fang Face

Just as nothing cannot be found offensive by someone, nothing cannot be considered art by someone. Does that make it art? Ms. Biesterfield did not violate anyone's civil liberties, she didn't attempt to define child pornography. She simply told the police about something that she thought was illegal, and, by the way, that was happening in a public place. The police handled it from there. And the man was caught, red-handed, by the police. This kind of thing happens all the time, people tip off the cops to something illegal, then its up to the cops to catch the person.

By the way, your use of profanity makes other people take you less seriously. There are more creative and mature ways to express your opinions.

Yes, it is art before it is porn

Just as nothing cannot be found offensive by someone, nothing cannot be considered art by someone. Does that make it art?

In a free society, the system of justice is founded on the assumption of innocence. That applies not just to people who are suspected of committing a crime, it applies to everything suspected of being criminal. Speech and art included. For something to be found to be proscribably obscene, it must be found in a court of law to fail the Miller Test. If it passes the Miller Test, it can still be found to be pornographic, but protected speech none the less.

As you can see by the mindlessly hateful spewing of Tempest above, there is a segment of society in which the assumption is of guilt. That is not a foundation upon which to base a respect for humanity, or of human rights and civil liberties. It is, in fact, the kind of foundation upon which was based the witchhunts of the 15th through 18th centuries, in which anywhere from 30,000 to seven million innocents -- some as young as seven years old -- were subjected to horrific tortures and burned alive.

My position is not in defence of criminals, it is in defence of the civil liberties of all people, including those who commit heinous and despicable acts. Because otherwise we do not have freedom, we have majority accorded privilege. And all it takes under that system is one hysteric screaming "burn the witch" to lose that privilege.

For more on where I stand on the knee-jerk, reactionary hysteria against pedophiles, see my commentaries:

  • Comparitive Perversion I
  • Comparitive Perversion II

    There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

  • There is a difference

    There is a difference between child porn and regular porn. That's more than offensive, it's illegal and sick and should be offensive to anyone. The librarian acted exactly how she should have. You should be ashamed of yourself, twisting the story to quasi defend a pervert. It's people like you who keep enabling sickos like that. Child porn is child porn, and anyone can tell the difference.

    libararian retaliation

    Problem with the county firing her for reporting the crime is that she has great lawsuit against the County. Viewing or possession of child pictures (your automatic editor won't let a person type p**o**r**n) is a federal crime. A person cannot be fired or retaliated against for reporting a crime to authorities. While there is no requirement to report (hence the cowardly supervisor is ok for refusing to report) an employer cannot discipline a worker for reporting a crime. Hope she sues.

    That's Whack

    I worked at a large public library system in the South (not the deep South), and we regularly busted people for viewing porn. The procedure was to call our in-house security to ask the person to leave, and our IT department so they could come clean the pc (of downloaded images and the inevitable malware). If we'd seen someone viewing child porn, we would have called library security immediately to detain the person before they got away, and I guarantee you the cops would have been called!

    ridiculous

    In Portland, the library has worked with the Police to capture child porn collectors. Children are damaged by the production of this stuff, and people who view it often damage children. That library director should be fired. The library should be sued by the employee, until it is shut down. She should be made director. Is this for real? How can people be so stupid?

    Re: ridiculous

    >That library director should be fired.

    I agree wholeheartedly. This is a misinterpretation of ALA's "Freedom to Read" position in the hands of a control freak. You cannot and must not restrict or discipline an employee from reporting a crime. Doing so is either a crime itself or should be.

    No

    No, this is not for real. Research this topic more fully. She was NOT fired for anything related to this incident. The suspect was NOT found to have child porn at the library; he is accused of having it at home. The library worker HELPED the patron sign on to the internet and view his email; she said so on radio. The suspect has NOT been charged with a federal crime. He is a defendant in state court. And the library worker was ON PROBATION for other work-related issues. The worker has turned this into a media frenzy; research her comments. They are different every day. Everyone is getting worked up about this. I wish everyone would just do some RESEARCH about this case, that type of activity we encourage in our library system.

    That's ridiculous! Why

    That's ridiculous! Why wait, following the chain of command for what is and a very serious issue. The man in the library could have walked out of the library to pursue his next "target." Sounds like a lot of ego involved at the library. Hopefully the librarian lands on her feet. What's the protocol for an irate patron who waives a gun around in the air before leaving the building on a rampage? Probably to make a note in the computer on his account and wait for the library director's words.

    You Know You Did Something Wrong....

    When all the comments on LISNews are in agreement

    Doesn't it make you wonder

    Doesn't it make you wonder if the supervisor is also a child porn viewer? "Thousands of images" found on the library computer, supervisor says not to report them - all in a state where parents can be arrested for taking pictures of their own baby in a bath without a diaper? Something stinks big here. The librarian needs to be reinstated, the supervisor needs to be fired.

    ALA indoctrination gone to far

    The librarian who got fired forgot to obey the ALA's commandment, "Thou shalt not volunteer information to law enforcement, ever." This disturbed mindset, shared by the fired librarian's supervisor, comes straight out of the ALA's playbook. The ALA's obstructionist position against law enforcement to the point protecting child predators brings us to the disturbing and irrational situation being reported our of Lindsey, California. What this library needs is a new DIRECTOR who puts the wellbing of the community's children above mindless adherance to the ALA's marching orders.

    Denise Varenhorst
    President
    Family Friendly Libraries
    www.fflibraries.org

    please

    Dear Ms. Vorenhorst,

    ALA is a voluntary organization. They can no more give orders than the AMA can change my cholesterol medicine.

    Sometime people manage to make mistakes and be idiots all on their own without help from a large conspiracy, The Great ALA Porn Machine Child Murdering Collective, Jane Fonda, etc.

    Further, ALA has always maintained that lawfully obtained warrants must be respected. Many states, including my own, have laws that explicitly prohibit giving any confidential information to law enforcement without said warrant.

    Confidential?

    Would a list of sites visited on a public computer be considered confidential? I don't think so.

    Now. the books they checked out last week, or the amount of fines paid, or what they have on reserve, or ILL requests those are all confidential, and should not be revealed except in response to a Court Order... and frankly what use could the possibly be anyway.

    But that somebody looked at the Encyclopedia of American Music from the reference seaction, or some child porn site on a public computer seems not to be confidential simply because it was done in public.

    I don't see how you can draw

    I don't see how you can draw a distinction between use of a public computer and use of a public book. Why should they be held to a different standard?

    I am not drawing that distinction

    That is exactly the point I am making. If I use the dictionary on the stand, or the computer on the desk in the public library my actions are public.

    The distinction I think you misunderstand and perhaps I did not make clear is a patron's record. The public has no right to know what books I have checked out, I can't as the library staff what my neighbor has checked out nor can my neighbor ask what I have out. The fact that I could go to the library and watch my neighbor check them out notwithstanding, library records are not public information and in almost every jurisdiction protected by law.

    BTW, 1 Ralph McInerney mystery, a book about cheese, and a US Army band CD is what I have out this week. I don't care if anyone knows, but I can certainly understand why others may wish to maintain what little privacy we have left.

    Conspiracist clap-trap

    The ALA's obstructionist position against law enforcement to the point protecting child predators . . .

    As I mention in a post to another story, "child pornography" is a misnomer. What we refer to as child pornography is actually a genre of proscribable obscenity. The ultra-self-righteous apply the rubric "pornography" because they will not differentiate between speech that is unprotected and speech that they simply don't agree with. Pornography that is not proscribably obscene, you see, is protected speech. If you have just cause, in good faith, to believe that a crime has been committed, you should report it to the police. I'm pretty sure even the ALA respects that principle, and I'm also pretty sure that organizations such as yours would prefer to call the police over any material that you don't agree with.

    It seems pretty clear to me that your Freedom unFriendly Libraries group is just looking for any excuse to shit all over human rights and civil liberties. I can understand being squeamish about the sexual abuse and rape of actual children -- that sort of thing certainly arouses my disgust and wrath -- but I can still recognize the necessity for respecting the civil rights of even the most vile and despicable criminals, and your high-horse is all about violating the civil liberties of the law-abiding.

    From the little I've seen on this issue, I have no doubt so far that the supervisor is in the wrong, but I am also certain that you are merely engaged in conspiracy theory and spewing hatred and vile lies in an effort to effect a system in which knee-jerk reactionary theo-fanatics accord to themselves control over the minds of the populace.

    There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

    Not just porn; a criminal offense.

    People that posess, view, produce child pornography upon conviction should be jailed for the remainder of their natural lives.

    If I stabbed the librarian would a note be made in my record and would they simply ask me to stop stabbing librarians?

    Another reason I will never set foot in California. And as a California taxpayer I find the supervisor to be a disgusting waste of my tax money.

    Ethics

    I am all amazement. It's interesting (and disheartening) to see how different ideologies intersect, especially in such a black and white case.

    I think it's unfair to accuse the ALA - as an organization - rather than the individual supervisor, of being "obstructionist". Brenda Biesterfeld was acting in an ethical manner that complies, in my opinion, with the ALA's Code of Ethics. VII does state that librarians should "distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties". However, this is not necessarily a moral issue, but an ethical one.

    Eithics (usually information ethics) is a branch of philosophy that Librarians must interact with, as a responsibility of our profession. We are required to make and act on our ethical choices all the time. This case no different.

    Biesterfeld should not have been fired, because her boss made an unethical, socially irresponsible decision.

    Am I the only person here...

    ...to whom the phrase "misprision of a felony" suggests itself upon reading this story?

    For those of you too young to have grown up like me watching "Perry Mason," misprision of a felony is the federal offense of having knowledge of a crime and not reporting it. If the Bush Justice Department wants to go out with a bang, it seems to me that perp-walking this supervisor might serve that end.

    Under federal law misprision

    Under federal law misprision of a felony (18 U.S.C. § 4) requires active concealment of a felony rather then just failure to report it. California doesn't seem to have any law on the books of this type.

    Misprision

    It is a common law crime in many jurisdictions. It does not require active concelament - in fact active concealment may and most likely would rise to the level of accessory.

    Misprision may not be charged when the defendant is an accessory. Misprision is most often charged when there is an affirmative duty to report such crime. Seldom is there an affirmative duty to do anything, heck the cops don't have an affirmative duty to protect any individual.

    It is sledom charged because it is hard to prove. It is not uncommon to find persons pleading to it rather than a more serious crime. See the recent Zach Scruggs plea that came after he was charged with much more serious crimes relating to the bribing of a Mississippi judge.

    Dickie's boy probably won't be holding any Hillary fundraisers either.

    Seeking Contact with Fired Librarian

    I added Brenda Biesterfeld to my Good Librarians page. She is a hero.

    If anyone knows her, please ask her to contact me as I wish to speak with her attorney about the library possibly violating it's enabling statute, ordinance, or charter.

    This really does happen??

    I'm in my first year of library school and in the Intro class this exact issue was discussed. I thought it was theoretical issue. I can't believe it really happen(ed)(s). I was in the minority side of my class when I said I would call the police. My view was child porn viewing, owning, producing, whatever,,,is a crime and should be reported. If you saw someone breaking into your neighbor's house, you wouldn't call the police?? What kind of a citizen are you? I think this librarian is a hero who saved a child or maybe even several children from harm.

    It is good to read many librarians feel that she should not have been fired. Maybe I'll be in the majority in the "real" world?

    p.s. I agree with Chuck.

    Not all libraries in California...

    The key word here is child. Child porn is illegal no matter what your opinion and/or policy is on adults viewing pornography. In my system we are told to call the police immediately if we see someone viewing child pornography. There is no note, there is no waiting.

    "Everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds"

    -Candide by Voltaire

    A view from across the Ocean

    In South Africa, Cape Town we've just started providing the free internet and pc access to the public and I must say that our guideline are quite clear, if what you are viewing is offence AT ALL, you're going to get your ass shot out of the library.
    (And possibly have a copy of the constitution liberally applied to your head until the police comes. )
    That said getting fired for calling the police, is just plain wrong. Even on the darkest continent, being a responsible employee means writing the wrongs even if it does go against procedure.
    Everybody know that! Don't they?

    The facts have been so

    The facts have been so distorted in this matter. The librarian saw a glimspe of a screen that had 12 thumbnail pictures on it. She thought that they were children but was not sure. Here boss told her to give him a note to stop looking at porn. This was done and the gentleman left. 8 days later the librarian called the police. She gave all of the gentlemans personal info over to the police without any warrant. She also gave another patrons personal info over. The Librarian told this patron on the original date that the gentleman was viewing pornography. the next time this gentleman came to the library this librarian called the police and said he was there using the computer. The police arrived and saw the man looking at an images of a naked adult on the screen. The supervisor was right telling her employeee to ask him to stop. This librarian had no way of knowing what the man was looking at. She has violated his rights and freedom. Individual judgemants that she does not like gay porn do not give cause for what she did. There is absolutely no proof that the man was ever looking at child porn in the library.
    This man has frequented the library for many years. he is completely deaf and has a mental age of a 12 year old. He was well known to the other members of the library staff.

    OK if you say so.

    Gee, the librarian in me would like an authoratative source for that information. Based upon what I know of the incident my opinion is clearly formed.

    Your arguments are circular and founded on supposition and heresay.

    You state the employee was right in telling her employee to ask him to stop. If you support the freedom of adults to look at legal pornography, why would the employee be right asking him to stop?

    You say the the librarian had no way of knowing what the man was looking at, yet you accuse her of not liking gay pornography. If she could not see what the man was looking at how could she pass any judgement on what type of pornography she liked or disliked?

    You state that there is no proof that this man had ever looked at child pornography in the library, yet there was enough proof for police officers to detain the defendant. Officers were also able to searh his home and discover incriminating evidence that provided them probable cause to arrest the defendant.

    The fact that the defendant was deaf, or had frequented the library for years is inconsequential when contrasted with the crimes with which he is charged. You fail to explain how you know the defendant has 'a mental age of a 12 year old, nor how that would excuse posession of child pornography.

    Your statements that the staff member violated the defendant's rights and freedom may certainly be construed as libelous, a very dangerous situation into which I would not wish to place myself when. I would certainly not toss about allegations without substantiation - allegations such as the staff member's revelation of patrons' information protected information to the police.

    You sir in my most humble opinion, are treading on very thin ice. You make unsubstantiated allegations which may prove injurious. I have advised the staff member in question and I certainly hope she provides counsel with this URL.

    While everyone is entitled to opinion, I hold that libel is a most serious offense and should not be tolerated.

    N.B. This is not legal advice, should you require legal advise seek appropriate counsel. I do not practice law nor solicit clients in any state notwithstanding any such admittance, licensure, or approval.

    No

    ...This guy has it right. This woman devised a way to save her job by making a public spectacle out of this. She waited 8 days to report it, and the man is not charged with any offense related to "child" porn at the library. Further, this suspect was unable to sign on the computer himself. SHE HELPED HIM, not only when she viewed the suspect images on an email, but 8 days later, when she signed him on and then called the cops. She could have said no. She could have asked him to leave. Instead, she set him up, and she held a news conference, then a prayer vigil. The world is misinformed about this case. That what happens when people blog first and ask questions later.

    Hello?!?!?

    How about knowing the facts before slamming the librarian? As I understand it, she was on a probationary period and had been advised of other problems she was causing. The supervisor has 2 daughters, 3 nieces, 3 nephews, 5 great nephews, and 3 great nieces. I doubt that he has any liking for child pornographers.

    Also, he has been director there for over 20 years, commended by the state librarian, and offered postions on NATIONAL boards on rural and small town libraries.

    Have you read the transcripts of Biesterfield's interviews? Her story keeps changing. She also states that she had the man's email address and password. Hmm... Wonder how she saw the porn? Also, be aware of your facts. Your library usage can be turned into the feds. Look at wiretapping! And have you ever been caught in a porn loop you can't get out of? This is why she should have called Mr. Lewis instead of claiming she was scared of losing her job though she had only meet him 3 times, always with others.

    Let us hope she does sign the release that would allow the county to give her records to the press. The director has been unable to defend himself because of their personel rules regarding privacy. What will it say about her if she declines to sign the release? See the Visalia Times Delta.

    Hello to you too

    Again you obfuscate the issue with superfluous information. I have a cat and a nephew, but truthfully that has no bearing on the the matter nor do the familial ties of the director.

    The notion that he has been offered positions on various boards is simply meaningless as well. If you will recall Elliot Spitzer had a failry prominent position last week until he resigned his office under a cloud of misconduct and illegality, that too is meaningless in the context of the matter instant.

    I have not read the transcripts of Biesterfield's interviews, I have read several dozen of the news articles and none of the allegations that you presented as fact agree with them. If you have other sources I'd be happy to consider them. I have seen no information that would lead me to believe that she improperly accessed the patron's email account as you allege.

    Truthfully I have no idea what you are ranting about. My library usage can be turned into the feds? On what do you base this claim? Certainly any record can be subject to subpoena, but there are safeguards to prevent improper use of subpoena power. However if you or 'the feds' are interested in my library usage I'll happily provide the records to you. I have an outstanding overdue fine of thirty cents to my local PL for a Ralph McInerney mystery that I will pay next time I go to the the library during open hours.

    I am also perplexed by your exhortion to 'Look at wiretapping!" There is no allegation of wiretapping in this case. It seems to me that you are a grand conspiracy theorist.

    As I find your views so far out of touch with reality I shall expend no further effort to respond to your nonsensical ramblings.

    Good day.

    That's right

    ...None of the news articles have it right. That's right. The reporters in this area are young, inexperienced and intoxicated by the national publicity they have received. I promise you: the facts, timeline and circumstances of this case have not been fully disclosed. This woman isn't even a librarian -- she is a library assistant, a clerk. She knew this guy's passwords and she logged him into the computer herself. She set this whole thing up.

    Patriot Act

    The Patriot Act allows the federal government to look in the library usage, including checked out books and websites viewed just as it allows the wiretapping.

    As for the refernce to Elliot Spitzer, that case had actual proof. Just because one public figure was a bad person doesn't mean they all are. In this case, it is a woman who has nothing but claims and nothing to back it up. If she was so scared about her job, why didn't she speak to him personally or even got to HIS boss instead of just whining to the newspaper after the fact?

    Remember, goverment rules kept the director from making any, again ANY, comment on the matter. The mentions of his famial ties & board offers show his background. THe offers show that he is an extremely competent librarian and Tulare County is lucky to have him. There is no glory or power with a national library board position.

    Yours are the nonsensical ramblings if you are willing to take sides and make judgements on issues based on emotional newspaper articles without the full story from the other side.

    Amen

    Spitzer is a real scandal. This is a nightmare for a local town caught up in hysteria. There are so many losers here: people who want the truth; people who want the public to have confidence in our libraries; the people who need libraries as resources; and good natured public servants who try to do their best. This library clerk was about to lose her job, so she created a scandal. That's pretty ingenious. Now she won't release her personnel file, she won't grant interviews, and she won't face the facts. I suspect we are all on Minute 14 of her fame.

    Anonymous

    You make many allegations and insist that the facts as presented to us in the many newspaper articles are incorrect. However you fail to present any evidence to the contrary.

    I am certain we would all be pleased to read anything exculpatory you have, anything at all, yet you go off on tangents about the youthfulness of the reporters and the USA PATRIOT Act.

    It makes me wonder if you are not the pervert in the library.

    Details

    I think what we all are suffering from is a lack of information. We have one side saying that this guy was looking a kiddie pron, and the woman was right, and on the other we have people saying he wasn't, or that he is mentally handicapped, or etc.

    These are the facts that I've gleaned from looking at news reports:

    The guy had been talked to for looking at ADULT pron in the past.
    She saw THUMBNAILS for less than thirty seconds, and it looked like kids to her (but it was boys, which calls into question her judgment...these are thumbnails after all, and if the dudes shaved their junk, I would say that it would be real hard to tell, generally, from thumbnails, the age of subjects. Especially without leaning in close and making it obvious you're looking).
    She was told by her Supe to tell the guy not to do it again or he'd be booted, which she did, and to put a note to that effect on his record, which she also did. Then she wanted to go the extra mile and report him to the police. Her supe said no. She went home, thought about it awhile, and came to the conclusion she could not, in good conscience, leave it alone. She then called the police, who may or may not have found things and may or may not have charged the dude.

    We need to know if the cops found anything. And what the dude was actually looking at. Although I respect newspapers and am not going to say 'they must be wrong', I will say that I've yet to find any details on either of those two bits. I would think the images cached or retrievable, and the police reports easy to find for them, yet they have not done so yet. Not finding fault, just saying we can't judge with what we don't have.

    I don't know where the comment that he might be mentally handicapped came from, I found nothing on that.

    I BELIEVE this is LIKELY to be what happened: The dude may or may not have been looking at kiddie pron thumbnails, but he'd been busted for looking at porn before. Although porn is arguably protected speech, if a librarian happens to see it then a kid might, too, so you're not doing a good job of protecting kids from the pron, so you should stop looking at it. Providing porn to kids is a crime, after all, so the library is okay with telling some one to 'quit that'. HOWEVER, the dude had not, apparently, been caught with kiddie pron previously. So though the probationary librarian said she thought it was kids, she also had to admit it was tiny thumbnails looked at over someone's shoulder for a matter of seconds. So the supe said 'no, don't call the cops'. I think this is reasonable. It is not the librarian's task to look for suspicious activity. Doing that puts people on alert, and makes them feel uncomfortable. Medical professionals don't report crimes that aren't going to be an immediate harm, because it's the only way that their patients can trust them. It patrons can't trust their libraries, then they won't go, defeating the purpose of the library. Because it wasn't big enough for her to be sure, the supe made the judgment call that she shouldn't get this guy harassed. Just let him know pron's off limits. When the woman called the cops, she overrode the supe's judgment call and got this guy harassed. If he wasn't looking at kiddie porn, then she TOTALLY deserves to be fired. After all, the supe's judgment was right, and considering she was still on probationary status (having worked there less than 6 months), she should have deferred to the supe's judgment.
    And if he was looking at Kiddie pron? Then she still stands to be fired. you can say that she has every right to report a crime, and this is totally true. But in the lack of CLEAR evidence of a crime, I think the county has every right to say, defer to your supervisor's judgment in the matter. By just refusing to do that, she was being insubordinate, and considering she was probationary, that's perfect cause. Of course, the county said there's other 'business reasons' anyway, so maybe its a moot point, but I'm working from the assumption she really was fired for this.
    An analogy would be: someone wants to check out a bunch of books on hydroponics. you think that you heard them talking about 'weed', and would like to report them to the cops. They might have been talking about marijuana, and they might have been talking about how they won't have to worry about weeds in their garden. If the supe says no, then don't report them. It's not like you heard them say 'we are totally going to use these books to learn how to grow our own weed so that we can sell it and become marijuana millionaires'. THAT would be something said in a open place that clearly indicates a crime and therefore could be reportable by anyone, including the librarian. But again, this whole section was my analysis of the LIKELY scenario, given what I believe to be the facts that we actually have.

    And to the reactionary people saying they 'won't take their kids there' or, 'let's protect the kids', allow me to point out that there hasn't been a single allegation he was MAKING the kiddie pron. He may be a monster, and he may have been looking at it, but he wasn't personally endangering children, he was just making it fiscally worthwhile for other despicable people to do so. The librarian didn't protect a single child. (Of course, its POSSIBLE that he might have acted on his desires, fi he really is a pdphile, but then, we don't even really know that, do we. Neither we, nor the librarian, would be able to know what was going on in this dude's head.)

    Several quick points

    I have found some details that he may indeed be non compis mentis. Criminal proceedings have been stayed pending an evaluation of his < a href="http://www.thesungazette.com/articles/2008/03/26/news/news01.prt> competence (scroll to bottom).

    Having worked as an RN in a large ER I can tell you it is quite easy to make a very reliable determination of a persons age using the Tanner scale. I venture a guess that any mother is able to estimate a childs age within six months.

    Phyisicans and nurses do report crimes that are not immediatly dangerous. In fact state and federal laws often require us to do so. Any crime relating to the abuse of children would require a Herculean effort to prevent a phycisian or nurse from reporting. Primum non nocere sometimes does mean protecting your patient from self harm through any means including intervention of law enforcement. While we may not be required to report your lack of seat belt usage, I know of no medical professional who would not alert authorities if their patient told them they developed a disease by sodomizing a neighbor child or some other disgusting and illegal behavior. Suicidal and homicidal behavior or ideation is also frequently reported to law enforcement as the physician is not equipped to deal with an armed patient.

    You actually can use the word pornography or if you must porn, it is not necessary to call it pron.

    Your analogy about week is specious. This has nothing to do with patron circulation records nor an overheard conversation.

    The reporting of a crime is in my opinion a moral obligation, the police have the obligation to investigate not the librarian. A reasonable suspicion is enough to justify a call to the local gendermarie. Why she even asked her supervisor is beyond me.

    If I saw someone looking at child porn in the library I most certainly would be fired because I would beat them until the police took me away.

    A quick response to your

    A quick response to your points:

    The Tanner scale is, indeed a reliable means of determining age. If you can actually see the image. If you can't, then it's not reliable at all. My point was I don't think that thumbnails would be likely to really give her enough detail. If you read the post, that's what I said. I'm not retarded, there's clearly a difference between adults and kids, I was just saying that since thumbnails are usually very tiny, she wouldn't actually be able to see enough detail to be certain. I don't know that for a fact, granted, I'm just saying I find it UNLIKELY.

    Although you are correct in that medical professionals do not need the danger to be 'immediate', the danger still needs to be present. If the patient tells you they like think they caught herpes from sodomizing a willing prostitute, you can't tell the cops. It's a HIPAA violation, even though it's illegal and arguably immoral, because it's part of their medical information. (though, due to the public health risk of a prostitute giving johns herpes, you might report that you have reason to suspect there's one out there, but you wouldn't give the john's info)
    Of COURSE a medical professional is going to report child abuse.
    But then, at the same time, a medical professional is going to wait until they have darn good cause before they report the person...I was a rambunctious kid who hurt himself a lot, and for awhile they suspected my parents of abuse I was in the ER so much, but they didn't report them to CPS because they knew what a horror unfounded allegations are. (these allegations appear to be true, but as i said, I find it unlikely, given current information, that her suspicions were actually well founded)

    What, exactly, is specious about my analogy? Are you saying that something you've seen cannot be analogous to something you're heard? They are both crimes. They are both obvious. And they are both something that the librarian witnessed. So please, tell me HOW it's specious, don't just call it specious. I'll grant, 'this has nothing to do with an overheard conversation', that's why it's an ANALOGY, a 'resemblence of relations, an agreement or likeness between things in some circumstances or effects, when the things are otherwise ENTIRELY DIFFERENT'. My point was that in both those cases she would have a reasonable suspiction of a crime being or about to be committed, but in the initial example she wasn't CERTAIN, and while I feel a patron is entirely within their rights to call the cops and get them (the kids in my example) harassed, I don't feel that it is the librarian's place. Much in the same way I don't feel that the librarian shoudl have reported him if she couldn't really see the pictures, which as i said I don't think it likely she could. I find these two things to have a likeness between them in some circumstances or affects. As such it's not specious AT ALL. It is an alternative, illustrative example of my point. In other words: an analogy. Please don't disagree with an assessment that uses words you apparently don't know the definition of.

    I used 'pron' instead of 'porn' because an earlier poster said 'porn' was edited...it appears that it is not, and it also appears that I can't be consistent, considering I missed a few instances where my natural inclination to type correctly overrode my decision to misstype it, so 'whoops' to me.

    A 'reasonable suspicion' may be enough to call the local law enforcement in general, but at the same time, some libraries understand that need of their patrons to not be in fear that the government is constantly hovering over everything they do. This librarian assistant doesn't seem to agree to this basic philosophy...and as a probationary employee, I see nothing wrong with just getting rid of her instead of trying to educate her on the idea that if patrons are afraid of their librarians they won't go to the library. That's why you have a probationary period...so you can fire people if you just don't feel like dealing with them. She's not being arrested here, she's being let go because her basic philosophy is different from what they want. i don't, barring new information, necessarily have a problem with that.

    Now, if this guy is proved to be guilty and convicted, he is a monster. Don't get me wrong. Deserves to be killed, in my opinion. But the librarian was being nosy, and as far as I can tell , for certain anyway, there's no evidence she was able to be positive of the children's age. If, come to find out, he wasn't looking at thumbnails, he was looking at full sized pictures, or the thumbnails were especially large, then I would totally support her decision, in that she was POSITIVE a crime was ACTUALLY BEING COMMITTED, it wasn't just a suspicion based on her being snoopy, it's a certainty based on her being snoopy. Otherwise, she was in the wrong, at least enough to be let go.

    http://www.fresnobee.com/263/

    http://www.fresnobee.com/263/story/511399.html

    This is what happens when people rally around a cause they don't look into...it looks like Biesterfeld not only wasn't a 'hero', but was actually a bad employee, and is now trying to act the martyr...she punched her timecard wrong, and was insubordinate, and didn't put things where she was told to, and there's still some question as to whether she told her boss as much as she told the cops, and even then, whether there was actually child pornography involved.

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