The City Council in Lindsay, California has passed a unanimous resolution commending a library employee who was reportedly fired after defying her supervisor’s orders not to report to the police a library patron who was viewing child pornography, Cybercast News Service reports.
The former library employee, Brenda Biesterfeld, was praised by the city council, which also presented her with an award.
“This individual did the right thing by reporting it to the police, even though her supervisor said they were going to handle it internally," City Council member Suzi Picaso said to Cybercast News Service.
The city, which does not control the library, also sent a letter to the Tulare County Library System asking why Biesterfeld was fired two days after her call to police.
The letter also asked the Tulane County Board of Supervisors why library policies do not require library management to contact authorities themselves.
"Our concern is the way the whole situation was handled - her termination as well as their policies and procedures to report such a crime to law enforcement," Picaso said.
Picaso described how Biesterfeld, a new employee in a probationary period, reported the child pornography incident to her supervisor.
"Her supervisor basically told her, 'Do not contact the police. This happens more often than you know,'" Picaso said. "Well, if that's true, somebody's not doing what they need to do to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Biesterfeld was told to give the patron, who is deaf and mute, a note telling him a repeat incident would result in the denial of his use of library computers.
"After Brenda went home, however, she couldn't sleep and she was so stressed out about it. She has two little boys the same age as these little blonde, blue-eyed boys she saw on the screen in these pornographic images," Picaso said.
When the patron returned on March 4, Biesterfeld reported him to the police. Donny Lynn Chrisler, 39, was arrested on both suspicion of participating in the production or presentation of obscene matter in public places and suspicion of possessing child pornography. A search of Chrisler’s home reportedly discovered other photographs of child pornography.
Biesterfeld’s attorney, Matthew Staver, said that the library supervisor angrily confronted police when they confiscated the library’s computer as evidence, demanding to know who had informed them.
Biesterfeld was fired on March 6.
"It is outrageous she was fired for stopping a child pornographer," Staver said.
Tulare County’s chief media officer, Eric Coyne, disputed the account of the city council and Biesterfeld’s lawyer. He said that Biesterfield’s firing was a personnel matter and that the child pornography arrest is an ongoing investigation. Coyne said the county was not at liberty to discuss either matter in detail.
"She alleges that the one act was related to the other," Coyne said to Cybercast News Service. "We've investigated this, and that's absolutely not true."
He said the county board had asked a retired superior court judge to conduct an independent investigation.
The county has also entered into binding arbitration with Biesterfeld, though Coyne said that did not mean the county is offering her job back to her.