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Firefighters believed chief with well known sexual criminal past & junior member were a ‘dating couple’. But no one said anything?

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Previous coverage of this story

Read many more details from arrest warrant in Hartford Courant article

With the exception of giving my professional analysis on news coverage and how it is handled I really do my best not to pass judgment on most of these stories that pass through my hands to you. My philosophy is that you should make up your own minds without me telling you how to feel. I am also an extremely flawed individual who does his best to try and not judge others. But there are times when you just can’t help yourself (remember, I am flawed). After reading the sordid details of the the chief and lieutenant of Connecticut’s South Coventry Fire Department charged with having sex with junior members I’ve experienced one of those times where I find it hard to be quiet.

As horrible as this whole story is, in some ways the worst part to me may not be that Joseph Carilli, a 53-year-old chief, was having sex with a 15-year-old junior member in the “firehouse, the board of directors room, the firehouse attic, his house and the fire department substation” and apparently got her pregnant. What may be worse is the reaction and inaction of the rest of the department.

Here’s why I say this. Carilli had a past criminal history that included a conviction and jail time over a sexual incident involving a 14-year-old girl during the 1980s. This was well known and was a controversy that made news in 2006 when Carilli became chief. Many of us would likely say this man had no business supervising a program that involved young teenagers. But those in charge stood by their man and decided to let Carilli remain in his position. Now comes the real troubling part for me.

You would think the leadership and members of the department, after standing by their chief during the controversy would now have an extra obligation to the community, its junior firefighters and the parents of those young members to be on guard for even the slightest indication the chief was up to his old ways and immediately take action. You and I might think that, but the article by the Hartford Courant’s David Owens, based on details in the arrest warrant, says something completely different happened:

Firefighters interviewed by police said they often saw the girl with Carilli, and based upon their actions, flirting, and the amount of time they were together said they appeared to be a “dating couple.” Several of those firefighters said they did not notify authorities about the “illegal relationship because Carilli was ‘careful’ and they had no solid evidence to prove a relationship.”

Really? You believed your 53-year-old chief, who previously spent time in jail for having sex with a minor, was “dating” a 15-year-old junior member and you didn’t notify anyone about your suspicions. Really?

I know it’s easy for me to second guess and I probably should just keep my mouth shut because I don’t know all of the facts and have all of the evidence. But keeping your mouth shut is exactly what the firefighters who saw the chief “dating” the 15-year-old girl did and the best I can tell it didn’t serve anyone well.

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