Librarians Told Couple to Just Leave; Hastings Staff Didn't Call Police after Finding a Girl and Man in a Stall

Article excerpt


ST. AUGUSTINE - St. Johns County authorities said Wednesday they are investigating why county librarians did not notify police after confronting a man and a 14-year-old girl apparently having intimate relations in a library restroom.

Instead, the 25-year-old man and teenager were told to leave and were banned from returning to the Hastings branch until Dec. 15, authorities said.

About five hours after being thrown out of the library, authorities found Ryan Keith Hartley, 25, of Elkton and the girl at his father's mobile home in the Hastings area. The 14-year-old had been reported as a runaway.

Hartley was charged with lewd or lascivious activity upon a child and interference with custody.

The girl, whose name is not being released because of the nature of the investigation, was returned to her parents, Sheriff's Office Sgt. Chuck Mulligan said.

Assistant County Administrator Jerry Cameron said a policy failure, communication breakdown or confusion about what librarians are permitted to report to police may all have contributed to how employees handled the case.

"We need to have a little better coordination with the Sheriff's Office," he said. "We're going to get some training and supervision classes with our upper level management at the library."

By the end of this week, Cameron said he will have reviewed policies, determined any breakdowns and designed a course of action.

He did not know Wednesday if any disciplinary action was necessary.

According to authorities and police reports, Hartley and the girl were at the Hastings branch library about 5 p.m. Monday, where librarians saw a couple walking toward a women's rest-room. …


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