Newly released records related to the investigation of Burlington’s former waterfront manager reveal that the ousted Boathouse employee was accused of viewing sexually explicit material on a city-owned laptop.
Last Friday, Chittenden Superior Court Judge Dennis Pearson, who is also presiding over cases involving allegations of pedophile priests, released hundreds of pages of interviews, legal briefs and transcribed interviews that were previously sealed.
Pearson blacked out numerous passages in the hundreds of pages of material, taking pains to exclude descriptions of content found on Adam Cate’s laptop, including Google searches he conducted. But Pearson did not redact a key paragraph in a 13-page letter dated September 28, 2008, from Parks & Recreation Director Wayne Gross to Cate . Gross later fired Cate, who appealed the decision before the entire Parks & Recreation Commission. The commission reinstated Cate, suspended him for 30 days without pay and put him on probation until May 20, 2009. He was fired in April, for good, after making crude and demeaning remarks to a parks employee.
In the letter, Gross scolded Cate for violating Burlington policy by using city computers to view and print other employees’ emails, and allowing other people access to the city’s system and the Internet without proper authorization.
Gross also accused Cate of using a city-owned laptop for “viewing sexually explicit images” and storing personal pictures and documents.
The new information helps the public to understand the charges Cate was defending himself against.
In written testimony provided to the Parks & Recreation Commission, Cate vowed, “Let me promise you all on my children’s names that I have never [redacted] at work. The laptop was accessed by probably at least 30 different employees over its life span and, in all honesty, working with all the twentysomething-year-olds for all these years I am not entirely surprised that it may have been used inappropriately.”
He added, “The charge is proof positive of the lows to which the City will stoop to pile on petty charges in an effort to justify its efforts to try to terminate me.”
In the same testimony, Cate admitted the laptop found its way to deer camp in November 2007.
“I had the laptop at deer camp, Bob Whelan (sic), among others, were there and someone brought [redacted] on the laptop,” noted Cate. Whalen is the city’s superintendent of parks planning and development.
Utlimately, the commission found Cate innocent of claims he had used “city property for personal use.” It made no mention of viewing sexually explicit material — either at the Boathouse or deer camp.