Lawmakers call for investigation after census hired registered sex offender

Lawmakers call for investigation after census hired registered sex offender
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Three North Carolina lawmakers are calling for an investigation after it was revealed that a worker for the U.S. Census Bureau in charge of the Charlotte region was on the state's sex offender registry.

Charlotte Census manager Kenneth Mabry, who oversaw operations centered in the state's capital, was revealed by local news station Fox 46 to have been on the state's sex offender registry for years before his hiring in 2018 by the Census Bureau.

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Mabry's entry in the registry indicates that he was convicted in 2013 for an offense against a child in 2011, a fact that was apparently unknown to census workers until his arrest earlier this year for allegedly molesting a 9-year-old girl.

His coworkers now say that the Census Bureau put many people at risk due to the agency's inability to screen its applicants effectively.

"He was at many community events. He was at churches, parades," a current Census employee told FOX 46. "They put, potentially, so many people at risk."

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"Absolutely," she said when asked by Fox 46 if she'd call for an investigation. "And several of my colleagues have indicated that they are concerned as well. I don't think we'll know if we don't investigate what really happened. And I think we do need to know because this kind of thing should never happen again."

A spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau said the issue was an ongoing personnel matter, and that it had steps in place to ensure that people who are hired go through checks to make sure they do not represent a danger.

 

"We have rigorous hiring procedures and checks in place to catch these type of charges early on in the hiring process and deal with them in the appropriate manner, and we are training our employees to ensure that these procedures are followed," spokesman Michael C. Cook said in a statement emailed to The Hill. "We take very seriously our obligation to ensure that the people we hire, especially those who visit or personally engage with the public, do not represent a danger to any individual or community. This is an ongoing personnel matter."

A spokesperson for the Department of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau, told the news outlet that its Office of Inspector General would review the incident. The OIG reportedly warned the Census Bureau last year that its background check process was "inadequate" and could lead to improperly screened individuals being hired.

"The Office of Inspector General is evaluating the [Census] Bureau's response to this issue, and we will review those findings with with the Bureu to ensure we do everything possible to prevent this from happening again," said the spokesperson, according to Fox 46. "This remains an ongoing personnel matter."

This story was updated at 4:51 p.m.