Adam Morel on CNN Headline News
Barbara Ann Wilson says she is surrounded by men surfing the Internet for porn who sometimes grope her and perform lewd acts in front of children, according to a federal lawsuit she has filed by her Attorney, Adam Morel against her employer --- the Birmingham Public Library in Alabama.
Tags: Adam Morel Barbara Ann Wilson Birmingham Public Library Internet Porn abuse
Added: 2 years ago
[from "HLN Prime News" (Monday, Sep 13, 2010), clip opens with Vinnie Politan ("Happening Now: Is Alabama library liable for porn? Lawsuit claims porn creates hostile workplace") speaking directly to the camera]
VINNIE POLITAN: Libraries are supposed to be places where anyone can research and learn, but does that include access to pornography? A librarian in Birmingham, Alabama says instead of looking up the Dewey Decimal System, library patrons are looking up porn. Not only that, but all the porn is leading to bad behavior, and now she's suing the library, claiming - quote - "during the course of her employment, the plaintiff has been subjected to a sexually hostile work environment which consists of severe, pervasive, unwelcomed and offensive, obscene and pornographic materials on said computers." Now, we tried reaching the Birmingham Public Library, but they have not gotten back to us. I'm joined tonight by Barbara Ann Wilson and her attorney Adam Morel.
[cut to a split screen (with the text "Lewd Library?"), as a young African American librarian is joined by her male attorney live via satellite]
VINNIE POLITAN: Thank you both for joining us. Uh, Barbara, let me start with you ... Y'know, I remember going to the library when I was young, and it was a place where good things happened, right? You researched, you learned, you read. Now you've got computers there and apparently, down there in your library, lotta access to a whole lotta porn.
BARBARA ANN WILSON: That's correct.
VINNIE POLITAN: Well, are there filters on these computers? I would think, if you've got a public place and we know what people can do, that maybe there'd be some filtering device to keep the porn outta the library, away from the kids, and away from you?
BARBARA ANN WILSON: Um, Vin, that's right. We do have filters, but they do not work.
VINNIE POLITAN: The filters don't work ...
[cut to a graphic which reads "Claims in Lawsuit, Too Much Porn in Library? Hostile Environment, Porn Easily Viewed, Complaints Ignored"]
VINNIE POLITAN: Alright, so describe for the folks at home a typical day at the library when you've got one of these - I assume it's men - logging on to the computer. What happens? Who's exposed to this stuff?
BARBARA ANN WILSON: Well, in the course of the day, when people access the internet and they wanna look at porn, it's started by bringing up thumbnails and then from there they enlarge the pictures and anybody - the staff, patrons - can look at the pornography as they pass by or when they log on to the computer next to them.
VINNIE POLITAN: Now, there's also allegations that it gets a little bit worse for you in this environment? I mean, are people coming up to you and doing things?
BARBARA ANN WILSON: Yes Vinnie, I have observed people masturbating, um, by my desk. People have, patrons have personally rubbed up against me. Um, they've touched my breasts and my buttocks.
["Is Alabama library liable for porn? Wilson says she tried complaining to her employers and security" appears on screen]
VINNIE POLITAN: This is unbelievable ... Let's go and see what the Facebookers are saying at home. Yolanda says "Why does a public library have access to pornography? That's just not right."
[cut to stock footage of the inside of a public library]
VINNIE POLITAN: [in voice over] Jessica says "Take one of those nice big books and smack them upside the head!" ... Well, what they've done is sue 'em here. Adam, I mean, your client is suing a library and obviously she's a librarian, that's what she does for a living.
[cut back to the split screen]
VINNIE POLITAN: She should be entitled to work in a porn-free environment, I would think. Um, have there been discussions with the library about maybe shutting down the computers, coming up with better filters? Uh, maybe having some security that can take a guy who is pleasuring himself and get him locked up?
ADAM MOREL: Well, had there been any real discussions from the library with any good faith, we wouldn't have sued to begin with. I mean, the last thing my client wanted to do was put herself out here and have to file a lawsuit over it. Uh, she wrote lots of reports, both written, she gave verbal reports.
["Adam Morel, Barbara Ann Wilson's attorney ... Wilson claims many people know how to get around the content filters" appears on screen]
ADAM MOREL: She had to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity commission. And their response in essence, in writing, was "We have a filter and your allegations have no validity." So, after several months and really years of dealing with it and getting no real good-faith response at all, we really didn't have much choice but to file a lawsuit over it.
VINNIE POLITAN: Alright, let's see what the folks at home are saying. Let's go to Peter, who is in Wisconsin tonight. Good evening, Peter.
PETER: [over the phone] Hey Vinnie. Uh, one thing is, sorry ... There's two faults here. You've got men who actually access these computers and, you know, kids are going to come up and look at these things. And that's what's troubling the parents right now, is seeing this. And a second thing, y'know, these men. They have wives, they have fiancees, they have girlfriends. Why do they have to go and fondle or grope or pinch someone on the butt, like a librarian for instance?
VINNIE POLITAN: It's crazy. Peter, thanks so much for the call ...
["Lawsuit claims porn creates hostile workplace" appears on screen]
VINNIE POLITAN: Uh, Barbara, I mean, how do you deal with that situation? You've got someone who's rubbing up against you, talking to you ... Um, is there security in the library? I mean, I don't know how you would react to something like that. It seems like a pretty dangerous situation.
BARBARA ANN WILSON: I feel like it's very dangerous. Um, I've called security, and there's a lag time between when I call and when they actually arrive. And that's one of the problems. Um, and another problem is that, um, they are ... I don't know how to say it. It's, um, complaint fatigue, I think, that the same person is complaining and they don't know how to react to it.
VINNIE POLITAN: Well, I'll tell you how to react to it, it's very simple. You take a security guard and you sit him down next to the computers, and you just keep an eye on it. Someone starts acting up, you call police, you arrest him. But apparently, that's not working, so you gotta file this lawsuit. Thanks so much for joining us and good luck, Barbara.
BARBARA ANN WILSON: Thank you so much, Vinnie.
Barbara Ann Wilson says she is surrounded by men surfing the Internet for porn who sometimes grope her and perform lewd acts in front of children, according to a federal lawsuit she has filed against her employer -– the Birmingham Public Library in Alabama.
Willson, who has worked as a library assistant at the downtown branch for 10 years, alleges that the library is a "sexually charged hostile work environment" and the city has not done enough to protect her.
"I don't think people realize that if you send your kids to the downtown library in cities like these, they better think twice," said Wilson's lawyer, Adam Morel. "There is stuff going on that quite frankly shocks me, and taxpayers are funding the place."
Libraries used to be sanctuaries for reading and research, but since the rise of the Internet, they are attracting a less studious crowd, says her attorney.
"The downtown library is located near a big city park and near a bus station," said Morel. "For whatever reason, they get these people in the library -- they don't have other places to be."
"They are using the computer to access hard-core porn in front of other patrons and children, and some of these people manipulate themselves in the open library," he said.
"It's going on every day and it's basically elevated," according to Morel, who said Wilson, 43, is still employed by the library. She was not available for an interview with ABCNews.com.
Morel said Wilson has been subjected to sexually aggressive comments by patrons and when she confronted them over obscene material, they became belligerent.
He said Wilson and other staffers have been told by their employer to speak to the offenders or send a message remotely when they see inappropriate web sites, or to call security guards.
"But security rolls their eyes like it's her problem," alleged Morel. "They say, 'If we are there to catch them in the act, maybe we can do something about it.'"
The librarian said she has made multiple written and oral complaints to her employer, but to no avail. She has even filed at least one police report, "maybe more," according to Morel.
In her lawsuit, Wilson has named the Birmingham Library Foundation, the board that runs the public libraries, and the City of Birmingham. She also filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC) last October, according to Morel.
"The City of Birmingham responded that her allegations had no validity," he said. "Those responses prompted her to file suit."
ABCNews.com made numerous calls to the central branch of the Birmingham Public Library and to its administration, and to the press office at City Hall, but received no comment on the allegations.
The library's website says that it has filters on pornographic material to prevent children from accessing inappropriate sites, but Wilson's lawyer said, "They are completely useless."
Morel said those interested in downloading pornography "know how to bypass" the filters -- they ask the librarian to turn off filters set in place to protect children.
According to the lawsuit, Wilson is seeking unspecified compensation from the library and the city. She alleges that the workplace has caused her severe emotional distress and mental anguish.
"More importantly, she wants measures taken to stop the problem," said Morel.
The library's policy allows staff to end internet sessions if patrons are viewing graphic sexual images in sight of children or anything involving sex with minors or encourages others to break the law.