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Man indicted for child pornography continued working at Md. library

Friday - 9/7/2012, 11:16pm  ET

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A Greenbelt man, who had been arrested and indicted on 11 counts related to child pornography, continued working unnoticed at a Prince George's County public library for seven months.

David Hartley was the subject of an investigation by local police, state and federal prosecutors, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the images of children engaged in sexual acts that were found on his computer.

Even after he was arrested directly outside of the Greenbelt Branch Library on Crescent Road in December 2011 and indicted a month later, Hartley continued his part-time job as a front desk clerk, working in close proximity to young people.

On Dec. 23, Mike Lanier, a detective with the City of Greenbelt Police Department showed a picture of Hartley to the library branch manager and asked to speak with him, according to Capt. Tom Kemp.

That manager, Ellen Uttley, told the detective Hartley was not at work yet and asked him to wait outside, according to Larry Broxton, chief of public relations and marketing for the library system.

When Hartley reported for work, Lanier arrested him outside of the library, Kemp says.

According to Broxton, Uttley never asked Hartley or Lanier why the detective wanted to speak with her employee and never reported the officer's visit to library administrators. Hartley called Uttley later to say he wouldn't be coming back to work that day. He apologized for the inconvenience and embarrassment of the detective's visit.

The next day, Hartley was back at work. No one at the library asked why police were looking for him, Broxton says.

Broxton said Uttley thought Hartley was a stellar and exemplary employee.

"She thought it could be personal and didn't think it was any of her business," said Broxton after researching the circumstances following questions from WTOP.

It took a phone call from a concerned citizen seven months later, in July 2012, before the Prince George's County Memorial Library System realized its employee was facing felony and misdemeanor child pornography charges.

Koven Roundtree, senior administrator of human resources for the library system, told Hartley on July 24 that he was forbidden from returning to the library until his case was resolved.

"Right after that, I called [Uttley] and told her we have a very serious matter and David Hartley was not to return to the branch, and he should not work," said Roundtree. "They wanted him back and asked, ‘Is this something that could be fixed?'"

Without disclosing the serious nature of the charges against Hartley, Roundtree told Uttley that he would not be returning.

Hartley pleaded guilty around a month later, on Aug. 27, to two misdemeanor counts of possession of child pornography.

While the plea deal with the State's Attorney's Office in Prince George's County called for a 10-year sentence with all but one year suspended, Circuit Court Judge Albert Northrop sentenced Hartley to one year of home detention and ordered him to register as a sexual offender.

Hartley's defense attorney, David Benowitz, says his client is allowed to hold a job and is required to be at home during certain hours of the day.

Roundtree, Broxton and Evelyn Tchiyuka, assistant director for public services, say Hartley and other salaried employees are not obligated to tell supervisors if they're arrested.

Hartley never underwent a background check before being hired for the position, which had him working 12 hours per week, because the library's hourly employees are not required to have background checks.

"I'm sure we'll review all policies about police visiting the branch and review policies about background checks as well," says Roundtree.

"It's just unconscionable," says Broxton. "With our customer base being families and children and the safety of our customers, we don't need anyone with nefarious, perverted situations who would work or come to the library."

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)