How would you respond to a criminal staff member?

Shawn Gossman

Tazmanian Master
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
8,033
So basically, I had a staff member once who turned out to be a registered sexual offender. The staff member was always kind to me and everyone and never once seemed like an oddball. I was contacted by someone else who informed me of their registration.

I immediately took the staff powers away from the staff member and sent them a PM asking they explain.

They informed me that they were indeed registered but that they were framed. I banned the member after that. I felt that was the best action, staff demotion wasn't good enough - I felt cheated and lied to. It was painful because they were one of the best staff members that I could have. Sort of makes me feel sick...

So as a response, I issued two major updates to my forum policies.
  1. Users who are registered as sexual offenders, active felons or are knowingly committing criminal activities are prohibited from joining and/or using the forum.
and
  1. Staff Member Requirement: To continue as a staff member or become a staff member, you must download "this PDF" to take to your local law enforcement agency for them to sign that you are a good standing member of the community. You must provide your real name, year of birth and location for basic background checking.
The new staff rule was overboard I admit it now. Many staff instantly resigned saying it was scary that I wanted that information even though they knew of the incident that occurred. I eventually took that rule out but it caused a lot of internal drama.

What should I have done to respond to something like this? What would you have done?

P.s. that particular forum has been shut down long ago.
 

Joeychgo

TAZ Administrator
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Feb 28, 2004
Messages
6,940
Unless the forum topic was somehow compromised by the conviction, I doubt I would have done anything. (ie a child sex predator on a babysitter forum)

You didn't provide enough specifics for me to give a complete answer, but in a general sense, I don't think its my place to inquire about criminal backgrounds.

Further, where do you draw such lines? What if the conviction was 30 years ago when they were barely an adult? Clearly no longer a thread so why punish them further? What if the explanation makes the crime seem a bit reasonable. ie - walked in on wife in bed with someone and beat the guy up... Assault & Battery, sure.. But kind of understandable. Do you let that person in? Doesn't it all become arbitrary then?

I don't think Facebook has such regulations - why a forum?

Just my .02
 

Shawn Gossman

Tazmanian Master
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
8,033
Unless the forum topic was somehow compromised by the conviction, I doubt I would have done anything. (ie a child sex predator on a babysitter forum)

You didn't provide enough specifics for me to give a complete answer, but in a general sense, I don't think its my place to inquire about criminal backgrounds.

Further, where do you draw such lines? What if the conviction was 30 years ago when they were barely an adult? Clearly no longer a thread so why punish them further? What if the explanation makes the crime seem a bit reasonable. ie - walked in on wife in bed with someone and beat the guy up... Assault & Battery, sure.. But kind of understandable. Do you let that person in? Doesn't it all become arbitrary then?

I don't think Facebook has such regulations - why a forum?

Just my .02
Facebook has this policy:

We try to make Facebook broadly available to everyone, but you cannot use Facebook if:
  • You are under 13 years old.
  • You are a convicted sex offender.
  • We previously disabled your account for violations of our terms or policies.
  • You are prohibited from receiving our products, services, or software under applicable laws.
Source: https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms

Convicted meaning that you were indeed convicted of the crime and still have to register which is usually for life. Regardless of the circumstances that led to the conviction, a sex offender is a sex offender to the eyes of the law and most often, the eyes of the masses. It could be a PR nightmare if you didn't respond to it the right way.
 

Joeychgo

TAZ Administrator
Joined
Feb 28, 2004
Messages
6,940
Yeah but, you didn't limit the policy to just sex offenders - Further, I don't think they run criminal history checks --
 

Shawn Gossman

Tazmanian Master
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
8,033
True. I'm sure I overreacted with the rule, which is why I took it out pretty quick but mainly I wanted to scare away anyone who could have also been registered. Sadly, it created more chaos than it was meant to create.
 

Paul M

Limeade Addict
Joined
Jun 26, 2006
Messages
3,924
I'm confused, when did they lie and cheat.
You asked them if they were registered, they answered 'yes'.

Did I miss something ?
 

Tracy Perry

Opinionated asshat
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May 25, 2013
Messages
4,986
I've seen instances where an 18 year old were boinking their 16 year old girlfriend and got "caught" and were charged and convicted.... and were then a registered sex offender. Then in other states you can marry at the age of 14.
In some instances it was taken overboard... and one of the reasons Texas modified their law to prevent some of this type of stuff from occurring. Anyone that thinks that teen boys/girls aren't going to join at the waist at some point is really smoking some good stuff that they need to share. :whistle:
 

we_are_borg

Administrator
Joined
Jan 25, 2011
Messages
5,484
It all depends if you run a site that is child friendly you cant have sexual offenders on the forum. When its all adults i would not concern myself that much but i would keep an eye out and monitor his behavior on the site. So the two rules well only if children are on the forum the second one is redundant because they can't join in the first place if they do they get banned. So if they are staff and broken the rule of joining because they are a sex offender they can be kicked under the first rule you made.
 

rockerfox

Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 24, 2010
Messages
211
I've seen instances where an 18 year old were boinking their 16 year old girlfriend and got "caught" and were charged and convicted.... and were then a registered sex offender. Then in other states you can marry at the age of 14.
In some instances it was taken overboard... and one of the reasons Texas modified their law to prevent some of this type of stuff from occurring. Anyone that thinks that teen boys/girls aren't going to join at the waist at some point is really smoking some good stuff that they need to share. :whistle:
not only that,but there been cases where a kid lied about their age and got into a 18+ telegram group or such. i saw some drama from screenshots posted on a site. yet,the adults get in troulbe and not the kid who said they where 18 or such. the law doesn't even make sense in that regard
 

bernard

Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 10, 2007
Messages
136
I don't perform background checks on my mod staff or membership. I don't require job applications for either as well. Statistically, with thousands of members, I've got hundreds of registered sex offenders on my forums just like there are hundreds living in neighborhoods around my home. As a forum admin, I just judge people (mods and members) by their actions on my forum. Circumstances might be different if I catered to a niche that primarily attracted kids.
 

tyteen4a03

Aspirant
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
24
I would only care if the forum is targeted at minors, or if there is evidence they are abuse their privileges for illegal purposes.
 

LordAtropa

Aspirant
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Jul 17, 2017
Messages
15
I would simply ask for an explanation. If I feel like they're lying, I'll ask their local police department for their records, unless I already know about their prior felonies/misdemeanours. If they lied and said that they never had a criminal record, I'll ban them from all platforms.
 

overcast

Adherent
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Mar 17, 2019
Messages
486
These days lot of sexual offenses are being thrown of as pure vendetta or something by accusers. So I won't hold that unless proven guilty. But any other crime like murder and drug, yes, that I can keep my forum and business away from.
 

haqzore

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Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
2,383
I would simply ask for an explanation. If I feel like they're lying, I'll ask their local police department for their records, unless I already know about their prior felonies/misdemeanours. If they lied and said that they never had a criminal record, I'll ban them from all platforms.
So, let's run through this.

Step 1: Call up a local police department.
Step 2: Say "I have this website, on the internet. I need the criminal records for John Doe 'cause I think they're lying to me..."

And you think they're just going to give them to you?
What?!?
 

Steve

Fanatic
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Apr 17, 2009
Messages
3,743
Actually most criminal convictions are public record, so you can go to the courts and pull up a previous case unless for some reason the conviction (case) was sealed.

Edit: this is in the US not sure in other countries
 

haqzore

Devotee
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2,383
Actually most criminal convictions are public record, so you can go to the courts and pull up a previous case unless for some reason the conviction (case) was sealed.
Yea, I get that.
I think people taking great leaps here & not considering the path or impact.

ie - for public records, we'll now expect members to divulge First & Last names? And places they've lived?

I mean... come on... We're running forums, folks. Some are a little more serious, but the majority? Yikes.
 

Steve

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I was commenting on the availability of people's criminal records is all :)
 

Nev_Dull

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Apr 27, 2010
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I can't imagine many forum managers would want to deal with the stigma of having a moderator or admin who was a registered sex offender, regardless of the circumstances surrounding that offence. So I think removing that person from a staff position was warranted. I don't know that I'd go so far as banning them, unless I ran a forum catering to children or other vulnerable people.

However, expecting staff on a hobby forum to submit a criminal background check is going too far. We accept members without ever knowing their real names and yet we would prevent someone from being a moderator because of some past stupidity? There's no sense in that. That would mean a large percentage of sitting politicians wouldn't qualify to moderate a cat fancier forum.

On the other hand (the thread title was bit misleading here), I would certainly remove any staff member who was found to be involved in criminal activity. That's just good governance.
 
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