Disturbing photo surfaces of Pasco library volunteer arrested for child molestation

LAND O' LAKES, Fla. — A library volunteer has been arrested after he reportedly enticed a 14-year-old boy to engage in sexual activity at the Land O' Lakes Library in Pasco County. 

After our report aired, ABC Action News was contacted by multiple parents, identifying 19-year-old Austin West as the same person, who months earlier was photographed in the library, holding a yardstick up to another teen bent over a desk.

The photo is now with law enforcement. Out of an abundance of caution, ABC Action News made the photo black and white and blacked out the child's face, so as not to identify him.


Credit: Reddit

"We are all shocked and we are pretty mad at the library," Priscilla Wilson said.

Wilson said she goes to the library every weekend. She first alerted us to the photo of West posted on social media. She can't believe he is accused of trying to molest another boy in the library and that more than a month earlier the photo of him holding another boy down was taken in the same library.

Wilson identified the room in the picture as the library's teen room. 

"Where is the supervision," Wilson asked. "How can it possibly be overlooked? You can’t invite children into your establishment and let them roam free and do whatever they want. I just don’t understand how there was no supervision at all."

West, of Land O' Lakes, was arrested Wednesday, May 9 and charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim 12 to 15 years of age and lewd and lascivious conduct of a victim under 16 years of age. 

The juvenile told detectives with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office that West encouraged him to show West his genitals. The victim told detectives he felt scared and pressured by West. The victim told deputies West pulled his shorts out and down in front of him and four other juveniles.

West reportedly offered oral sex to the victim which the victim denied.

The witnesses corroborated the victim's statements and the suspect refused to speak about the incident. 

Pasco County Libraries released the following statement on the incident:

The safety and security of all Pasco County Library patrons is paramount.  
Pasco County Libraries conducts a background check on all adult volunteers before they are allowed to begin volunteer duty.  Additional background checks are conducted on each volunteer annually.
    
The background check on Austin West was completed January 29, 2018.  He was cleared to begin his volunteer work, and his first volunteer shift was February 9, 2018.  As a result of the complaint against him, Mr. West was terminated as a volunteer on May 7, 2018.

The Pasco County Library System takes the safety of all patrons and staff very seriously.  Pasco County Libraries has reviewed our volunteer policy, and as a result of this case, will no longer allow adults to volunteer at after-hours events for teenagers.  Library staff will continue to supervise these events.

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