Scott Forbes had turned his life around.  Overcoming addictions to drugs and alcohol, he then earned a bachelor’s degree in addiction and several counseling certifications  He also has a master’s degree in organizational management.  And then a false report undid it all.

Forbes had spent 22 years working for various programs that assist those with similar addictions to what he had overcome.  In November 2004, Forbes became director of Hope Haven in Madison, operated by Catholic Charities of Madison, WI.  It was a promotion and job change from a related job with Catholic Charities.  And it meant he moved offices.

Then in October 2005, a computer disk was found in his old office back at Marquette County Chemical Dependency Service.  The computer disk contained a “significant amount of pornographic images” that included those of children.  They also found working files created by Forbes.  The fact that it was a “read/writable” disk for adding new files later didn’t register with the police.

He was arrested in April and charged with with 17 counts of child pornography, including pictures of two boys between the ages of 13 and 15 and one girl about 8 to 10 years old.

He was fired from his job immediately, before the charges were filed. He challenged the firing, and eventually the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development ruled in his favor.

“The state ruled that I had been terminated without cause,” he said. “But that did not save my career.”

He had lost his job; he lost friends. He had to sell off some family property.   He became a carpenter to make ends meet.

Finally last week, the judge ruled that he had not been given enough evidence when he authorized the search, and if he had he’d known the evidence was too flimsy to make a case.  He ruled the evidence inadmissible.  The jury of 10 women and two men unanimously found Forbes not guilty on all charges.

Vindicated, he admitted it has made him stronger, but then added “I’d have been fine with being less strong.”

(reference:  capital newspaper)

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The lesson for us is to have adequate liability insurances for your church.  A false accusation based on the slimmest of connections ruined his career, his reputation and – but for the faith of his wife – could have ended his marriage.

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