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Child sex offender works as state case worker until reporter's investigation

11-19-2009 Missouri:

A state investigation leads to the firing of a sex offender working for the State of Missouri in Joplin.

KOAM and FOX 14 are not releasing the man's identity, but according to court documents the man was convicted of sexual misconduct with a girl who was 16 years old at the time of the incident, which was in 2006.

He was given a six month suspended sentence, placed on one year probation, and required to register as a sex offender.

At the time of his conviction he worked as a case worker for the Child Support Enforcement Agency in Joplin, an agency of the State of Missouri's Social Services Department, and continued there until this past October when our investigation began.

We called the department and a supervisor told us she knew of the man's prior conviction. But she believed there was nothing wrong with his employment since he did not work directly with children.

A representative with the state agency that oversees family services told us both the hiring and dismissal of an employee are subject to discretion.

"I'm not sure that we go through - I think our supervisors at the local level determine on a case-by-case basis the suitability of employees to remain with us," says Scott Rowson of the Department of Social Services in Jefferson City.

We made repeated calls to state offices searching for state policies on the employment of registered sex offenders.

The state does not keep track of workers who are also sexual offenders and they can not say how many other offenders are on the state's payroll.

We asked Governor Jay Nixon about the man's employment during the governor's tour of Crowder College in Neosho last month.
"I don't like it and I've told Director Leavy, our folks have told Director Leavy to do a full and thorough investigation and find out what the facts are," Governor Nixon told us. "I don't think the taxpayers should be supporting sex offenders with their tax dollars in that fashion."

When one is legally hired to do a job, their pay IS NOT support, they are entitled to be paid just like anyone else working!

"The law is the law and the bottom line is that if they're labeled in that fashion, the tax payer dollars don't need to be going - there's plenty of other opportunities for them out there ," Nixon said. "They should serve their punishment and support themselves normally. But the bottom line is that we don't need to, with state payer dollars, continue to support these folks once they've completed their proper punishment."
The governor promised to launch an investigation and a few hours later the man in question was fired from his state job, where he had worked several years.

A representative from Social Services called our newsroom to verify the man was no longer a state employee.

"What I can tell you is the man in question has been delivered a letter of dismissal and we really can't get any more specific with that unfortunately," Rowson told us. "This is going to potentially have to be part of a legal discussion, so we're going to leave that as unsaid right now."

"We annually take a look at our entire employment rolls and if action is deemed necessary, regarding personnel matters and any potential criminal history, we take a look at that annually," Rowson says.

The agency that does the background checks on state workers, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, says they typically are only asked to perform background checks upon hire. But it appears no one at the state level is keeping track of how many workers have committed a sexual offense after they're on the job. ..Source.. JORDAN AUBEY

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