April 19, 2018

Patron Calls Cops on Web Surfer at Palm Beach Library

By LJ Staff

What happens when a patron is disturbed by another patron’s web surfing and the library doesn’t share his concern? In Palm Beach, FL, it led to an arrest. Brian Nugent was sitting at a computer at the main branch of the Palm Beach County Library System when he ‘noticed a gentleman in his mid-30s looking at pictures of little boys in their underwear,’ Nugent told the Palm Beach Post. He said that, after he complained, a library clerk and the librarian in charge only watched the computer from a distance–and told him nothing was improper. Nugent also noticed that the man, Michael C. Carroll of Lake Worth, was wearing an ankle bracelet used by law enforcement, so he called the sheriff’s department. By the time police arrived, Carroll, who was twice convicted for lewd and lascivious behavior involving a child under the age of 16, was outside the library. He was initially held without bond on a charge of disorderly conduct and another charge of violating his probation.

Sheriff’s Department spokesman Paul Miller told LJ that Nugent was concerned because children were in the general area. He said that, after Nugent’s call, when a deputy encountered Carroll, Carroll told him he was listed as a sexual predator. What constitutes disorderly conduct? ‘Based on the information we were able to acquire from library people and Mr. Nugent, that he observed him looking at offensive web sites which had sexual material.’ Such a contention could be challenged in court and, indeed, Miller later indicated that Carroll was only charged with violating his probation. As a condition of his release, Carroll was not supposed to view sexual material. Miller would not specify what sites Carroll looked at besides gay.com, which is a general portal of gay interest material. It was not clear whether the Carroll had turned off the filter on the computer he was using. Library spokeswoman Kathy Boyes said the staffers handled the incident properly. ‘They did not observe anything to lead them to believe there was improper behavior,’ she told the newspaper.