Archive for April 4th, 2008

Records Changed After Librarian Fired For Reporting Child Porn Offender

Friday, April 4th, 2008

We have blogged several times about a California librarian, who was fired after she reported a library patron to the police, when she saw him viewing child pornography. The police arrested the man and charged him. The library fired the librarian for “violating polices”, but never came out to say what policies were violated.
Now it has come to light that the supervisor who fired her two days after the porn offender was arrested has tried to change her record, after the fact, to reflect justification for the firings.

Personnel records used to justify the dismissal of a librarian who reported to police a man viewing child pornography on a public computer were changed after her dismissal, according to a law firm working on behalf of Brenda Biesterfield.

That, however, hasn’t stopped the county from justifying its actions and citing the changed records.

“The actions of Tulare County officials in firing Brenda Biesterfeld are simply inexcusable,” said Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University’s school of law.

“She should be reinstated and compensated for the injustice done to her,” he said. “The Tulare County Library ought to adopt clear policies informing their staff of the duty to report child pornography to police authorities. Just as taking crack in a library cubicle is illegal and must be reported, even more so should child pornography be reported. It is an unspeakable crime against children.”

WND reported Biesterfeld was dismissed from her position as a librarian without explanation two days after police found a library customer allegedly viewing illegal child pornography on a library computer. They had been alerted by Biesterfeld.

The county later wrote to Liberty Counsel’s Stephen M. Crampton in response to his letter protesting the dismissal and demanding her reinstatement. The county reported an internal review by its administrative office “led to the conclusion that Ms. Biesterfeld was terminated for legitimate business reasons and not because of any report she made to the Lindsay Police Department…”

However, county officials cited “confidentiality laws” that prevented them from disclosing the reasons. So Liberty Counsel obtained copies of Beisterfeld’s personnel files, redacted private information, and posted them on the organization’s website.

The files demonstrate “she was indeed fired for reporting to police that a patron, Donny Lynn Chrisler, was viewing child pornography on a library computer,” the law firm said.

Liberty Counsel said a performance evaluation given Jan. 15 by Judy Hill, the supervisor who fired Biesterfeld, stated she was performing satisfactorily. As the sole employee at the Lindsay branch, she was entrusted with managing the entire branch library, the firm noted.

“The evaluation also mentioned additional training that was coming up in March and stated: ‘In April 2008, the ‘new’ Lindsay Branch Library will be completed. When it gets closer to the date of completion we will go over the move and floor plan,'” Liberty Counsel quoted.

“On Feb. 21, Biesterfeld was visited by the entire management of the Tulare County library system, all of whom reiterated that Biesterfeld would very soon assume responsibilities for this brand new facility. A few days after that visit, Biesterfeld was asked what color bookends she wished for the new facility,” Liberty Counsel said.

But when the pornography case suspect was arrested, Hill “was upset and demanded from police the name of the person who reported him. Hill terminated Biesterfeld two days after the arrest, when Hill learned it was Biesterfeld who called police,” the law firm said.

After the dismissal, Hill then placed “new items” in Biesterfeld’s personnel filed without telling Biesterfeld, a violation of county library policies that require employees be notified and given an opportunity to respond, the organization reported.

“The new information placed in her file after the termination discusses minor issues regarding shelving books. Even this new, after-the-fact information fails to justify the wrongful termination of Biesterfeld,” Liberty Counsel said.

“The fact is that Judy Hill sought to ignore the serious crime committed in the library when Chrisler viewed child pornography,” the law firm said. “She was allegedly concerned more about Chrisler having a right to view child pornography. In fact, there is no right to view child pornography, even in the privacy of the home, let alone a public library.”

Original Link.