WILTON MANORS (CBSMiami) – Several people arrived at the Pride Center on Wednesday afternoon expecting to hear what the Board of Directors planned to do about CEO Robert Boo.
Last week Boo told CBS 4 News that he knew a convicted sexual predator worked for years at the Center, even after the Center opened a new children’s playground.
But, upon arriving, those community members learned that the Board decided to hold their meeting in private, preventing the public from hearing their discussion.
“We all understood it would be an open meeting,” said John Grzeszczak.
But seconds after roll call, they decided to kick out the public and the media so they could discuss the future of Pride Center CEO Robert Boo.
In an interview last week, Boo acknowledged that he knew for years that part-time janitor Clarence Collins was a convicted sexual predator and kept him on the payroll. Boo said he contacted Collins’ probation officer who told him Collins was no longer under any form of supervision. Boo also said he didn’t know the extent of Collins’ crimes — raping an 11 year old and threatening her at gunpoint.
“Had I known the information that I know now, absolutely I would have made a different decision,” Boo said in our prior interview.
Collins no longer works at the center and was subsequently arrested for lying about where he was living. Some in the community want to see Robert Boo resign or be fired.
“The fact is he knew he was a sexual predator,” said parent Amber Taylor. “He was at a number of events where children were present. He worked around a playground.”
“Our children were playing right here in this playground and Clarence was here,” said parent Richard Alalouf. “All the time.”
Others are also concerned by what they see as a lack of transparency from the Board.
“This is like the Catholic Church,” said John Grzeszczak. “This is like USA Gymnastics. Cover it up. Circle the wagons. Move on. We did no wrong. It’s wrong.”
Leslie Leip, Vice Chair of Board of Directors, read a statement after the meeting but refused to answer questions. She said they decided not to fire Boo.
“Following the vote, the Board unanimously voted to censure Robert Boo and that formal disciplinary action be taken,” she said.
The board is expected to determine Boo’s discipline at another private meeting next week. But for some, they feel this controversy sets the gay community back.
“We worked hard to earn our right to adopt children,” said Alalouf. “To get married. To dispel what the general public may think of the gay community. We’re not pedophiles. We’re not the lowest of the lows. When they turn a blind eye to a sexual predator, we have a problem.”
Alalouf called the board’s decision a slap on the wrist for Robert Boo. He said that he and others plan to contact some of the corporate sponsors of the Pride Center to make them aware of what’s happening in hopes of putting some pressure on the Board.