WILTON MANORS (CBSMiami) – Some parents in Broward County are absolutely livid after learning a registered sexual offender was allowed to work at the same place where they take their children to play.
Richard Alalouf ran events for his organization, South Florida Family Pride, out of the Pride Center in Wilton Manors.
He said he learned a few weeks ago that longtime Pride Center janitor Clarence Collins is a registered sexual predator.
Alalouf immediately reached out to Pride Center CEO Robert Boo to inform him.
“I texted him and he texted me back and he clearly knew,” Alalouf said. “I was in shock that he knew this.”
Alalouf said Collins was a constant presence on the campus, especially at the children’s playground, which was built in 2015, as the Center became more family-friendly.
Alalouf said his child and others were often around Collins alone.
“He set up, he tore down,” Alalouf said. “He was in the kitchen. He was in the front lobby. He was always there.”
He’s outraged that Boo knew of Collins’ past and never told parents.
“They made the decision that it’s safe,” said Alalouf. “They took it upon themselves not to tell us and let us, as the parents, decide whether I want my child there.”
Robert Boo told CBS4 News that he and others at the center knew Collins was on the Sex Offender Registry but didn’t know the specific details of Collins’ past.
Boo said Collins volunteered at the Center and was a trusted worker at the Center years before Boo arrived in 2006.
Boo became CEO in 2012 and said he called Collins’ probation officer and her words put him at ease.
“He was no longer under any form of supervision or any court sanctions,” Boo remembers learning.
According to court documents provided to CBS4 News by The Miami Herald, in the mid-90’s an 11-year-old girl told police that Collins “raped her” and that he showed her a gun and “threatened to kill her if she told.”
An arrest report says, “Collins gave a taped statement and confessed.”
Court records show he was convicted and registered as a sex offender.
Wilton Manors Police told CBS4 News they have not received any complaints of inappropriate conduct by Collins.
Collins is now back in jail, accused of lying about where he was living.
Sexual predators face restrictions on where they can be and where they can live.
Boo says he didn’t know any of that.
“Had I known the information that I know now, absolutely I would have made a different decision,” Boo said. “But I run a community center. I’m not an attorney. I don’t have that background knowing what are the state statutes.”
Alalouf says as CEO, Boo needed to dig deeper.
“I would have thought that he would have done that or he would have at least found out, what is his record?” Alalouf said.
Boo did say that the Center worked hard to keep Collins away from kids.
“During the events, we asked him to leave. Not because any red flags were raised or we were in fear, we just didn’t want to put him in that type of situation,” Boo said.
Alalouf and another parent said that didn’t happen and that it shows the Center knew Collins’s past was an issue.
Boo said he never tried to conceal this information from anyone.
“I realize that I may have shaken some of that trust but I will continue to work very hard to build that trust back with the community,” Boo said.
Meanwhile, Alalouf believes in the Pride Center but says change is needed. He said until that happens, he will not use the facility.
“Anybody involved who knew about it, there needs to be change,” Alalouf said. “Absolutely.”
The Board of Directors of the Pride Center is supporting Robert Boo.
In a statement, attributed to Chair Mark Budwig, they said, “The Pride Center Board of Directors supports CEO Robert Boo’s decisive action to address the issue pertaining to a recently terminated part-time employee. We are committed to continuing our work with Robert, the Pride Center staff, our members and partners to be a welcoming, safe space and inclusive home that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBTQ community and our neighbors in South Florida.”
Robert Boo says the Pride Center has created a task force to look at this matter.