The fallout from Robert Boo’s decision to keep a convicted sex predator on staff at the Pride Center after a playground was installed continued Wednesday when the board announced his punishment.
“The Board of Directors of The Pride Center at Equality Park last night unanimously approved a resolution to censure Pride Center CEO Robert Boo, who will be suspended without pay for two weeks,” the statement reads. “The resolution also calls for Boo to be subject to a corrective action plan, including additional training and monitoring of his performance.”
After the meeting Monday night another board member, Jim Walker, resigned. SFGN also learned Mitch Bloom and Richard Safaty resigned, but SFGN could not independently verify that.
“Shame on you. You have now lost 4 productive members of the Board,” former board member Heidi Siegel wrote. “For what? Defense of someone who did not do his job correctly and has lost the confidence of many in the community.”
Siegel resigned last month because of Boo’s handling of the scandal. The Chairman of the board Mark Budwig also recently resigned as well as board members Jane Bolin, Safaty, Walker and Bloom, bringing the total to 6.
Those that still remain include Leslie Leip, Vice Chair; Chris Caputo, Secretary; Craig Engel, Treasurer; Christopher Bates; Jason Hagopian; Brenda Hartley; Ernest Olivas; Paul Smith; and Denise Spivak.
Last week the board met and voted to not remove Boo, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Pride Center. The vote was 8-4 in favor of keeping him. They did, however, vote to censure him and agreed to meet on Monday night to determine his punishment.
Boo has come under fire for not taking action sooner to terminate the employment of a registered sex offender, Clarence Collins, 63, who confessed to raping an 11-year-old girl in the mid-90s and threatening “to kill her if she told.”
Children regularly visit the Pride Center and use its playground. Boo admitted he knew of Collins’ sex offender history all along, just not the details of the crime, and wanted to give him a second chance.
But once the playground was installed Collins’ employment at the center was no longer legal since sex offenders aren’t allowed to work somewhere children gather. Boo later claimed ignorance of the law. Collins was fired on March 19 and later charged with illegally working at the Pride Center.
Andy McNeill, a father of 7-year-old twins, doesn’t believe this punishment goes far enough.
“At the end of the day, Robert has served our community well over the years. He is a great guy. He’s done a lot for our community. He’s been very supportive of LGBT families in the past.” McNeill said. “No one takes any joy in calling for him to step aside. But this is a huge lapse of judgment that cannot be overcome. When leaders make bad decisions, consequences happen. We need new leadership at the Pride Center.”
Since Boo, he said, has lost the trust of the community he doesn’t see how he can effectively lead the organization during these turbulent times and oversee the changes the Pride Center must make going forward.
McNeill is also a member of South Florida Family Pride, a group that represents more than 600 LGBT families in South Florida. Besides Boo stepping aside he’s also calling for an independent investigation led by a child care expert.