Former state worker sentenced after child molestation conviction

Man resigned 10 months after charge

INDIANAPOLIS - A former senior systems administrator for the Indiana Office of Technology was sentenced last week after his conviction on a child molestation charge.

After receiving a tip, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney found that Scott Vorhees kept his state job for 10 months after prosecutors charged him in May 2012 with 11 counts of child molestation.

Vorhees' annual salary was $86,216, state personnel records show. Vorhees resigned, with his last day on the job on March 16.

Days later, he agreed to a deal in which he pleaded guilty to one count of child molestation. Last week, a judge sentenced Vorhees to two years in prison.

Vorhees was allowed to continue working in Government Center North, the same building that houses Day Nursery, a day care center with more than 125 children.

Carolyn Dederer, president and CEO of Day Nursery's seven facilities, said she was not notified about Vorhees' case until a few days ago.

"They called one of our employees who is our liaison to the building," said Dederer.  "We can't count on them knowing every single person that is questionable, and we can't control that. We can control our area."

Ashley Hungate, a spokeswoman for the State Personnel Department, declined to discuss the issue on camera, but responded through email.

"In situations where an employee reports that he or she has been arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or felony, we follow a general arrests and convictions policy ," Hungate wrote. "This allows employees to have their day in court before decisions are made, unless the charges directly impact the employees' ability to perform their job responsibilities."

The state arrests and convictions policy states that an employee who has been arrested and charged with a crime may be suspended pending an administrative investigation and/or disposition of any charges filed against the employee.

"The determination as to whether an employee is suspended shall be based upon the nature and circumstances of the alleged offense and other factors relating to the nexus," read the policy.

Vorhees was not placed on administrative leave, Hungate said, but did notify the Indiana Office of Technology of the child molestation charges.

The Government Center is a public building with a lot of foot traffic. The Day Nursery's doors are locked, and parents need a key fob to get in the door.

"If someone comes to the door without a key fob or someone we don't recognize, we ask for ID, we talk to them and find out why they’re there," said Dederer. "If there’s not a legitimate reason, they don't come in."

Dederer said having a state badge does not give anyone access to the day care.

"They have to be known to us and approved by us," said Dederer. "I'm sure there are any number of suspicious people that go in and out of that building all the time. There are guards that watch the door (of the day care)."

Dederer said the outdoor playground is secure, as well.

"We've had people come to the gate and want to come in and play with the children and we simply don't allow it," said Dederer. "We're licensed and accredited, so we do it the right way to protect the children."

But not every day care takes extensive security measures, said Sandy Runkle, of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.

Runkle said the Vorhees case is another reminder to ask a day care for their security policy.

"You don't want a facility where someone can just walk in off the street," said Runkle. "Typically, most facilities have the buzzer system where you have to identify yourself and the doors are locked."

Runkle also recommends doing a sex offender search in the neighborhood around a child’s day care.  

"Parents need to be aggressive," said Runkle, adding that parents should assume a potential of danger. "You’re going to have to take safeguards, because not everybody registered (as a sex offender) and not everybody's caught.”

Vorhees is being held at the Indiana Department of Correction Reception and Diagnostic Center, where he is undergoing assessments.

With good behavior, Vorhees could be released in May 2014, records show. He will have to register as a sex offender.

Vorhees' attorney, Jennifer Lukemeyer, declined to comment.

Hungate pointed out that some state agencies have stricter policies when it comes to employees charged with crimes, including the Family and Social Services Administration , Department of Child Services and Indiana Department of Correction .

The DCS code of conduct indicates that employees can be fired for unprofessional or criminal conduct, even if it does not directly impact his or her job duties.

"If such conduct is determined to be harmful to the DCS image, to be inconsistent with the agency's expectations of its staff members, to impact and/or disrupt business operations, bring the agency into disrepute or to jeopardize the agency's or employee's standing within the community, the staff member may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal," read the policy.

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