In a rare move, an Austin judge has recommended a man with a history as a sex offender keep his state-regulated job.The state Department of Licensing and Regulation sought to revoke Adkins' license, but Beeler said they shouldn't:
Wendell Adkins was convicted of sexual assault of a child in February. State regulators tried to take away his license to work as a used auto part recycler, court documents show, but Administrative Law Judge John Beeler advised them not to.
State laws require that regulators demonstrate why a person’s crime will imperil public safety. According to court documents, the licensing agency claimed Adkins “might be a continuing threat to society and allowing him to maintain his license would create an environment that would allow him to repeat his crime.”
Yet when pressed for specifics, regulators conceded Adkins’ crime occurred only once and in his home. His sentence did not prevent him from having contact with other children.Unless we're just going to say sex offenders should never be allowed to work at all - and that seems anathema to public safety - this knee-jerk reaction by the DLR should be rescinded. Would you want this fellow working at a day care? No. But at a junk yard? If he can't work there, where in heaven's name would he be allowed to work? Indeed, I'm not sure why a junk-yard employee whose job consists of "answering the telephone, greeting customers and determining what the customer needs" should require a license in the first place.
Administrative law judges, who hear occupational licensing disputes, can only recommend a course of action. In his Dec. 9 decision, Beeler sided with Adkins, recommending he be allowed to keep his license.
“The profession of used auto parts recycling involves answering the telephone, greeting customers and determining what the customer needs at a facility commonly referred to as a ‘junk yard,’” he wrote. “Any connection between (Adkins’) conviction and his occupation is slight at best.”
Although Adkins’ “crime was of a serious nature,” the judge continued, the licensing agency must show how his job “might offer an opportunity to engage in further criminal activity of the same type as that in which the person previously had been involved. (Yet) the ALJ (administrative law judge) can think of almost no occupation where a person would have less unsupervised access to minor females than at a used auto parts facility.”
The licensing and regulation department can decide whether to accept Beeler’s recommendations or appeal them to district court. Its next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 28.