U.S. Census Bureau under fire for hiring registered child sex offender as manager

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The U.S. Census Bureau’s reported hiring of a registered child sex offender to manage its Charlotte office has drawn the ire of many North Carolinians. Now lawmakers are insisting on an investigation into how the man’s employment was approved.

Kenneth Mabry, 44, had been listed on the state’s sex offender registry for several years before his hiring in August by the Census Bureau, according to a FOX46 investigation. The man was convicted in 2013 of the attempted molestation of an 11-year-old girl in Missouri. As a result, Mabry was sentenced to three years’ probation and was made to register as a sex offender for a minimum of ten years, FOX46 reported. However, his registration seemingly went unnoticed until March 12, when Mabry was arrested. What is the new charge? He is accused of “engaging in a sex act” with a 9-year-old girl, according to the report.

“This hiring is incredibly concerning and should have been easily avoided,” Sen. Tom Tillis, R-N.C., told FOX46. “This was clearly a failure on the part of the Census Bureau and we need to find out how this happened and how we can prevent such gross oversights moving forward.”

Democratic representatives Alma Adams and David Price have also joined the chorus of condemnation, demanding an investigation into Mabry’s hiring.

Some of Mabry’s former coworkers have expressed outrage. They noted their concerns that Mabry had attended an array of child-friendly community events throughout his seven-month tenure, including church gatherings and local parades.

And get this: In his role with the Charlotte census office, Mabry was amazingly in charge of the bureau’s hiring.

Perhaps they’ll need to review the decisions he made in this position as well?

In a statement, the Census Bureau said the former Charlotte manager is no longer an employee of the organization and added the bureau takes “the matter very seriously.”

“We remain committed to hiring practices that are fair and ensure safety to the public,” the statement said. “We have rigorous hiring procedures and checks in place to catch these issues early in the hiring process and deal with them in the appropriate manner.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Commerce, which presides over the Census Bureau, told Fox News Monday, “of course, Sen. Tillis and Rep. Price are justified in their outrage, and we share their deep concerns.”

“We have spoken to the Census Bureau about this matter to ensure its hiring and vetting procedures are adhered to fully going forward,” the statement continued.

“The Office of Inspector General is evaluating the Bureau’s response to this issue, and we will review those findings with the Bureau to ensure we do everything possible to prevent this from happening again. This remains an ongoing personnel matter.”

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Kenneth Mabry (North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation)

Nevertheless, the OIG last year cautioned the Census Bureau its background checks were not up to standard.

“We found that the Bureau has developed policies and procedures for conducting background checks on temporary employees, but quality assurance weaknesses jeopardize the effectiveness of those procedures,” the report warned. “Public-opinion polling, conducted earlier this decade by the Bureau, indicated that U.S. residents are concerned about the risk associated with potentially hiring people with criminal backgrounds to work on the 2020 Census. The Bureau must mitigate this risk.”

Every decade, the Bureau hires thousands of employees across the nation to conduct the Census, which serves a critical role in determining the U.S. population, the distribution of federal funding and how many seats each state will be entitled to in the House of Representatives.

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