Lifetime Ban for Sexual Incidents toward Children in the Chelsea District Library
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With the 2008 designation as "The Best Small Library in America" the Chelsea District Library is a place for which our community is generally proud. It was a place I felt my children were safe until the afternoon of October 5th, 2017.
My family's sense of safety in this space was shattered that day. My 13 year old daughter was studying with friends when a 29 year old man appeared in front of her. He was reportedly holding his (erect) penis in one hand and his cell phone at chest level (facing her direction) in the other. When she made eye contact he fled.
To the library's credit, staff were very supportive in contacting the Chelsea Police and providing the name of a man who they considered a potential suspect based on past behavior in the library. This man is now facing charges in Washtenaw County.
The Library Director, Lori Coryell has attempted to assure my family of their efforts to provide a safe environment for my children. She explained that this man has been banned previously for months at a time. This time, however, is more serious and he has been banned for one year. One year. 365 days without library access for showing his penis to a child.
My requests for a permanent ban were met with sympathy for my family, however, Ms. Coryell stated "A permanent ban would result in the complete deprivation of a First Amendment Right to Access"
However, past legal cases including Hill v. Derrick, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37676 (M.D. Pa., June 8, 2006) make it clear that permanent bans for serious offenses occurring in a library do not constitute a violation of First Amendment rights as the perpetrator has only lost access to that particular library.
The current Chelsea District Library Policy (430) titled Library Rules and Conduct indicates that a loss of library privileges (differentiated from extended loss) is within the Library Director's discretion. Yet, my requests for a permanent ban have, to date, not been honored.
If the Chelsea District Library does not change their position, this man will be allowed to return to the space in which he found my child quietly studying and decided to inflict his depravity upon her. The Library Director will be able to feel as though she has defended the perceived rights of this man, but this comes at a cost to the children of our community.
Please sign this petition to show the Chelsea District Library that this great community cares about the safety of our children. We must stand together and insist that patrons who use our library to commit acts against children are not welcome in "The Best Small Library in America".
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