Thursday, November 11, 2010
The following was taken from Shoalanda Speaks columns originally published November 6-8, 2010.
In May 1984, the Killen Fire Department of thirty plus volunteers announced that 28 year-old Capt. Lloyd Hollis Hayes was their new chief--for the second time since the previous December. A spokesman for the department would say only that the small group was a victim of internal problems. Now, Hayes was on his way to a successful career that lasted 18 years.
Married to the former Carol Lynn Mason Gresham, Hayes was the father of two young children and by 1989 had joined the Florence Fire Department where he served as captain. In 1994, Hayes ascended in rank to fire marshal, a position he held until he was terminated in 2002.
As part of his role with the Florence department, Hayes regularly participated in childrens' learning activities during National Fire Prevention Week each October. Hayes himself announced that the Florence program involved reaching young children not just in local public schools, but day care facilities as well. At the state level, Hayes helped establish youth groups connected to various fire organizations.
If Lloyd Hollis Hayes was unduly concerned with children, no one seemed to notice until January 2002. It was at that time the City of Florence conducted a routine audit of municipal computers. No one expected to find what appeared on Hayes' computer.
Possess computer images of adults in various states of sexual interaction and, while it may be sickening to some, it's not a crime. Possess photos of children in the same state, and you can go to prison for up to twenty years--in some states, the sentence is life.
For legal purposes, children are defined as being under 18 years of age, but most who are so horribly used, and even raped, for the gratification of those willing to pay for such images, are much younger. Florence Fire Marshal Lloyd Hayes agreed to plead to the charges on which he was indicted, so only those who were part of the legal investigation, prosecution, and defense know exactly what was on both Hayes' home computer and the computer provided him at work by the City of Florence.
From the July 17, 2007, New York Times:
Experts have often wondered what proportion of men who download explicit sexual images of children also molest them. A new government study of convicted Internet offenders suggests that the number may be startlingly high: 85 percent of the offenders said they had committed acts of sexual abuse against minors, from inappropriate touching to rape.
While Hayes may be part of the 15% (3 out of 20) who did not act on his fantasies, he was at least so addicted to child pornography that he risked his job, a very well-paying job, by keeping at least part of his pornographic collection stored on his computer at the Florence Fire Department. When a routine audit on January 11, 2002, discovered the illicit images, police also confiscated his home computer, finding more of the same.
The City of Florence placed the 45 year-old Hayes on paid administrative leave on Tuesday January 15th, a day after the fire marshal was arrested on three counts of possession of child pornography and seven counts of distribution of the same. His bail was 50K, not a difficult amount for someone in Hayes' income bracket to produce.
A short time later, Lloyd Hollis Hayes' status was changed to unpaid administrative leave; and his wife filed for divorce. If Hayes was to salvage anything from his downfall, he was going to need a lot of luck and a great legal defense.
As Lloyd Hollis Hayes sat in the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center awaiting bond, he called Florence Fire Chief Charlie Cochran to express the love he had for his job, or more to the point, his former job. Employed under the Civil Service Act, Hayes was entitled to a due-process disciplinary hearing over which Cochran would preside. The fire chief stated at the time that friendship with Hayes would not influence him in his decision.
On January 25, 2002, Cochran heard three hours of testimony in Hayes' hearing, after which he recommended the former fire marshal be placed on leave without pay until the charges against him were adjudicated. Hayes was luckier during his hearing in District Court three months later.
District Judge Deborah Bell Paseur dropped the seven charges relating to distribution of child pornography since no money changed hands in the transfer of the images. Now, Hayes faced only three counts of possession of obscene material.
Hayes later agreed to a plea bargain in which two of the three remaining charges were dropped. Judge Mike Jones sentenced the former firefighter to a 30 month sentence. Under the agreement, Hayes wore an ankle monitor for nine months, while spending two years on probation. His defense attorney was quick to point out that the children pictured on Hayes' computers were not local. Well, thank goodness they were only children from third world countries.
Today Lloyd Hollis Hayes remains on the sex offender list, as he will for the remainder of his life unless current sex offender laws change drastically. It's a dismal ending for a once bright future; however, once he reaches the age of 60, Hayes will begin to draw his state retirement--our tax dollars at work.