These past several weeks our community has been challenged by the discovery that the Pride Center in Wilton Manors had hired a sexual predator who had served time for aggravated sexual assault on a minor. This was a terrible crime and the law required the perpetrator that upon his release, he was to have no interaction with children and to live a good distance away from them. This person failed to abide by the law and misrepresented himself to the Center when he sought and maintained his employment there.
The current director of the Pride Center, Robert Boo, was made aware of the employee’s predator status but stated that when he inquired with the authorities, he was not made aware of the conditions of the employee’s release from custody. Once he was fully informed, he immediately fired him.
Opinions differ as to Robert’s duty to have inquired further as to the basis of the employee’s status as a sexual predator. I know that I would have, even just out of curiosity.
Nonetheless, our community is now being judged as to the measure of care that we practice as we have now brought upon ourselves new responsibilities as we enter the world of marriage, children, health care services, and the like. While we have generally led a trusting and carefree existence, we can no longer be nonchalant in our interactions with groups who deserve protection and privacy.
If we assume these roles of responsibility, we must accept the fiduciary relationship this now brings. Children are fragile like glass, yet the environment that surrounds them is not. We must be extra careful as to what they eat, what they read, and what company they keep. If a person cannot accept this, then they should not have or be around children.
Robert is the director of the Pride Center. As such, he has accepted the responsibility that comes along with it. If the center chooses to include children, then we must be willing to accept that extra responsibility to ensure their protection and care. But that is just one of many other responsibilities that he has, for the center engages seniors, religious groups, healthcare clients, and many many more constituencies. It’s not an easy job.
Most people believe that Robert. does a good job. I am one of those people. I know that he has lead our community through good times, as well as some very difficult times. I can recall the aftermath of the Pulse massacre as just such an example.
We can all second guess as to what Robert. should have done under the circumstances with the knowledge that he had regarding the employee that was a sexual predator. We could all agree that this person should never have been brought close to the pride Center.
I believe that Robert has accepted responsibility and made his apology. He is now suffering under the rebuke of many in our community as well as sanctions being imposed by his board. I do not think his resignation is the answer, but we must use this moment to learn from this mistake.
I believe that we can be a better community by helping one another through this episode. We can be thankful that no hurt took place against any child. But let us move forward and understand how this must be a moment of learning and a moment of healing and not simply an opportunity to condemn.
Please, let’s not tear ourselves apart over this. There are so many out there eager to see just that.
Mayor of Fort Lauderdale