LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A state employee has been put on leave Thursday night after a CBS2 investigation uncovered that he’s a registered sex offender who works near children.
Errick Lee manages a state building in downtown Los Angeles, which has a child-care center.
“Mr. Lee, are you a registered sex offender?” asked Investigative Reporter David Goldstein through the door.
He didn’t answer.
Goldstein continued: “You are registered with Long Beach. Do you think it’s wise to be managing a building with a child-care center in it, sir?”
“It raises a concern for me,” said Valerie Valdez, who drops off her 3-year-old son at the child-care center every day. “The fact that he is in the building and may have access to the daycare is a concern.”
Court records show Lee was convicted in 2004 of a felony sex crime with a minor.
According to a Los Angeles Times article at the time, the then 37-year-old Lee was the director of the Lynwood Chamber of Commerce when he was accused of having sex with a 15-year-old boy he picked up after class at Lynwood High.
Lee was sentenced to two years in jail and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
But two years later in 2006, Lee was hired by the state Department of General Services, where he still works, earning just over $77,000 a year.
He now manages the Caltrans building in downtown Los Angeles.
It houses an early education center called Tiny Dots, where moms and dads who work in the downtown area can leave their kids for the day.
Their website shows a school-like setting for nearly 70 infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
It’s unclear if the state knew Lee was a sex offender when it hired him. His name isn’t listed on the Megan’s Law website because his sex offense is exempted.
When CBS2 asked the Department of General Services, a spokesman responded by saying they “do not comment on personnel issues.”
Regina Ramirez is the former director of Tiny Dots and said she never knew Lee was a sex offender.
“This is the first that I’m hearing of that, so I had no idea,” said Ramirez, who questions why Lee was placed so close to kids.
“I don’t think that it’s a good idea,” said Ramirez.
Lee isn’t breaking any laws by being in the building. Since he has already served his time and is off probation, he can work wherever he wants, even around children.
“Of course, I see a danger of putting him in this position,” said Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly was murdered by a sex offender. He runs the Klaas Kids Foundation aimed at stopping crimes against children.
By satellite from San Francisco, he questions why the state put Lee near the child-care center.
“This is a guy that trolled schools for kids, and here’s a school and here’s kids. Put two and two together,” Klaas said.
But Lee also had problems in the workplace.
In 2014, Lee was also slapped with a sexual-harassment lawsuit.
A male janitor testified he felt “somebody’s hands grabbing my butt. I turn around and it was Eric Lee. And I looked at him, he said, ‘Doesn’t this feel good?’ ”
The case was settled for an undisclosed sum of taxpayer money.
But just months after it was filed, Lee received a Certificate of Recognition from the state Assembly for outstanding dedication and exemplary service.
It was signed by Assemblyman Isadore Hall, who is Lee’s brother.
Hall is now a state senator running for Congress. The brothers are seen together in a campaign video.
Hall has not responded to numerous messages CBS2 left and has even blocked Goldstein from his Twitter page.
“How’d you get the proclamation on your wall signed by your brother?” asked Goldstein while standing outside of Lee’s home.
Lee wouldn’t answer that, only saying his brother didn’t help him out.
“All I can say that I have been working for the state of California long before my brother was in the Legislature and with that I have no further comment,” said Lee.
After CBS2’s investigation, the state Department of General Services said it placed Lee on leave pending a thorough review of his employment history and current status. They refused to say whether they knew he was a sex offender.
Representatives of the child-care center turned down CBS2’s request for an interview but reassured parents the facility is safe.