USGA Legal Woes

The Newark Star-Ledger headline: "Court says employer of kid-porn purveyor had duty to stop him."

Matthew Dowling writes:

Joseph Herrera's supervisors at the United States Golf Association headquarters in Bernards Township first learned that he was viewing pornography on a work computer as early as 1998.

He was twice told to stop, but the company did little to investigate further or monitor the extent of his Internet activity even after there were indications Herrera was looking at child pornography.

Herrera, now 42, was arrested in June 2001 and later convicted of secretly taking nude pictures of a 10-year-old girl. Investigators determined he used his work computer to share three of those pictures and download at least 100 other images of child pornography.

A state appeals panel ruled yesterday that the USGA could be held responsible for financial damages resulting from a lawsuit filed by the 10-year-old victim's mother, who claimed the organization could have investigated and stopped Herrera much earlier. The decision overturned a lower-court ruling in favor of the USGA.

And here's the legal precedent part:

The 31-page decision could potentially be a landmark ruling for corporations about how to handle Internet privacy issues in the workplace. The wide-ranging opinion clearly puts the burden on employers to investigate reports of Internet abuse by workers.

"It sounds like this might be the first time this type of case has been dealt with," said Kevin Kovacs, the attorney for the 10-year-old girl, identified only as "Jill Doe" in the lawsuit. "I could find no other case like it in the country."

The decision does not name the USGA, but lists the corporation as "XYC Corporation." The decision also does not name Herrera, referring to him as "defendant" and "employee."

Did you know that emails with obscenities will be rejected by servers (don't even think of asking how I know this...), yet this guy could use a computer at Far Hills headquarters and do what he did?