Accused YMCA Staffer Speaks Out - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

ONLY ON 3: Accused YMCA Staffer Speaks Out

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By Megan Boatwright, Channel 3 Eyewitness News

UPDATE MARCH 17-5:15 P.M.-- A viewer tip led us to look for more answers about Hamilton Family YMCA sending a letter to members concerning possible inappropriate contact between a child and staff member.

The YMCA confirmed that employee is off the job, but Chattanooga Police say he did nothing illegal.

Police says after an investigation they found the allegations against 20-year-old Andrew Florence unfounded, and didn't file charges against him.

For now Florence isn't allowed to return to work and believes he more than likely won't be.

When he thinks about his future the young adult isn't quite sure what it will look like. But one thing he does know is he wants to work with kids.

"I'd be willing to work anywhere but definitely with kids," Florence said Wednesday afternoon. 

For the last year and half the 20-year-old was able to do just that, as a 'Child Watch' staff member at the Hamilton Family YMCA. Then something that was said changed everything.

Florence says he was approached by a police officer and Department of Child Services official during a shift on day. Florence said, "they told me an investigation was going on". 

In a news release YMCA officials called the allegations, 'inappropriate contact with a minor'.  Florence told Channel 3 the mother of a 5-year-old accused him of sexually mistreating her son.

Reporter Megan Boatwright asked, "Did you do what people are accusing you of?"

"No, no of course not," Florence answered.  "I took the lie detector test and the investigator said I clearly didn't do it." 

In a statement to Channel 3, Chattanooga Police Sergeant Jerri Weary says,  "the case was unfounded and no charges will be sought against Mr Florence.  He was never charged. He did take a lie detector test and passed it."   

"The people that know me know the truth," Florence says.  "That's all that matters to me. Rumors are just rumors."

But still he's feeling the effects of the damage. For now his status as a YMCA employee is still listed as suspended, but he believes his chances of going back to work are slim.

"I have been looking for another job," he said.  "I don't know what this is going to turn out to be." 

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UPDATE MARCH 17TH

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Chattanooga YMCA officials issued a statement about the dismissal of a YMCA employee accused of having inappropriate contact with a minor.

Here is the statement:

The YMCA management has been made aware of an allegation of inappropriate contact with a minor by a staff member of the Hamilton Family YMCA. The YMCA immediately suspended the staff member. YMCA officials are cooperating fully with all authorities investigating the allegation.

 An investigation by the Chattanooga Police Department resulted in no charges being filed.  According to YMCA officials, all YMCA staff and volunteers who have contact with children are fingerprinted and are subject to a criminal background check. 

 The individual in question had no history of criminal charges.  YMCA officials further stressed that the staff member has never worked in any YMCA after school program or preschool.  A separate investigation by the Department of Children's Services has not yet been concluded.

 Safety is our primary concern, and the YMCA will take all appropriate steps to fully investigate this matter and, depending upon the results of the investigation, will act accordingly.

 The YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga has a long history of providing a safe environment for our members and the community to enjoy.  We will continue to vigorously and continuously pursue that aim and the security of those we serve.

MARCH 16TH

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)--A viewer tip led Channel 3 Eyewitness News to look for answers about a case of a YMCA employee having inappropriate contact with a minor.

YMCA of Chattanooga released the following statement to Channel 3 after our calls:

"The YMCA management has been made aware of an allegation of inappropriate contact with a minor by a staff member of the Hamilton Family YMCA.  The YMCA immediately suspended the staff member.  YMCA officials are cooperating fully with all authorities investigating the allegation.

The alleged incident was investigated by the Chattanooga Police Department, and their investigation has been closed with no charges filed.  The Department of Children's Services also is investigating, and they have issued no report at this time.

Safety is our primary concern, and the YMCA will take all appropriate steps to fully investigate this matter and depending upon the results of the investigation, will act accordingly.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga has a long history of providing a safe environment for our members and the community to enjoy.  We will continue to vigorously and continuously pursue the safety and the security of those we serve."

YMCA also says that letters were sent to all members of the Hamilton Family YMCA who have children.  They are deeply sorry if the computer file was inaccurate and some were missed.  YMCA members who may have been inadvertently left off the mailing list may pick up a copy of the letter at the Hamilton Y. 

If you ever have a news tip you want Channel 3 to investigate email newstips@wrcbtv.com. Your tip can remain confidential.

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