ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A new hire at the East Rochester Fire Department is raising questions and concerns regarding the criminal past for a former police officer.
Back in 2002 and 2003, News 8 reported on the charges and trial of Clint Jackson, a Rochester police officer who was found guilty of fondling women during traffic stops.
Jackson was ultimately fired, and convicted on 15 of 31 counts of misdemeanor sexual abuse. He was sentenced to two years in jail as a result. At the trial, Jackson always maintained he did pat downs by the book.
Now, he’s being given another shot at serving the community — this time volunteering at the ERFD.
A man, who wished to remain anonymous, says he worked with Jackson in the Rochester Police Department’s “Police Explorers Program'” and at Henrietta Ambulance. He says hiring Jackson could be a potentially dangerous move in protecting the community.
“It’s pretty serious stuff when he was in a position of public trust and assumed integrity, and now he is apparently a firefighter at the East Rochester Fire Department in a similar position,” he said.
He wonders what kind of screening process could possibly be in-place, if any.
“Anybody else in this position that Clint found himself in would really just be laughed out of the room when their application showed up,” the man said. “I’d like to think that agencies I worked for and with did their best to keep a clean house and a solid image — and very selective over who was hired.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo did sign legislation in 2014 to strengthen background checks for volunteer firefighter organizations. It requires applicants to submit to a background check for any prior sex offense convictions.
The man says he’s questioning why the town, who brought Jackson in, would make such a move.
“Well, its no secret that volunteer membership is low everywhere. Maybe giving the guy a second chance?” he said.
That’s what Martin D’Ambrose, Town/Village of East Rochester Administrator, believes happened. The board decided to approve bringing Jackson onto the force in August. While D’Ambrose was not a part of that vote, he says from what he understands, Jackson went through the process like any other candidate. His past records did enter the conversation.
“The gentleman was very forthcoming and indicated it was at an early point in his life and indicated it was something that he regretted, and it was a mistake, and he was much more mature,” D’Ambrose said.
When it comes to the community raising issues of Jackson’s past — and now future with the department — he says those are valid.
“I don’t think that anyone would disregard those concerns in any way, shape, or form, but I also don’t think that anyone would unknowingly put anyone in the community at risk if they felt that was still a concern,” says D’Ambrose. “I think that anyone who has made a mistake in their life and can be given a second chance is certainly something that most reasonable people would agree is a good thing for society.”
Others, however, don’t feel the same way.
“I think his actions are unredeemable,” said the man who served with Jackson.
A woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, who testified against Jackson in 2003, issued this statement to News 8:
“I am shocked and saddened to hear that Mr. Jackson was brought on as a new hire for the East Rochester Fire Department. Even more so after learning they knew of his past conviction for sexual abuse. I don’t believe he should be trusted in a position of community service. I was unfortunately one of his female victims at the age of 17 while he responded to my call in to 911 for a hit and run accident. I was alone on a dark street and as a victim of a hit and run, he insisted he need to pat me down.
“I trusted Mr. Jackson, a police officer. What a mistake. Although that was almost 20 years ago, I will never forget the emotions of fear and helplessness he caused me. A police officer at the time, he held a position of trust and power and he abused it. No member, especially female member of the East Rochester community should feel safe with him handling their call/emergency. I feel he would abuse the power and trust again. During the trial, which I testified at, he did not show one ounce of remorse or issue an apology. I hope the board reconsiders their decision.”
News 8 did reach out Wednesday to the East Rochester Fire Department and will post any updates if we hear back.
Jackson released this statement Monday morning:
“It is very unfortunate that people are still so fast and willing to judge someone without ever getting all the facts or information. Social media allows others to express their dismay, dislike and hatred without ever truly understanding or trying to get all the details. That is human nature. However for those that seek to know more or understand I gladly opened my Facebook post for all to read. Maybe they will get a better understanding or want to seek more information. As for second chances I would hope people would feel everyone is entitled to one. Am I such a horrible person that I am the only one not? Is Rochester or Monroe County a community that only allows some not all the chance to have an ability to help others?”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.