Registered sex offender elected as fire chief in small town

Despite the outcry against him Gilbert said'I've changed my life for the better since the crime

A small-town fire department in Pennsylvania is facing mounting backlash over its decision to appoint a registered sex offender as its chief. I felt the best thing to do was back away, ' Roger Gilbert Jr. told JET24.

The former felon joined the small town's fire department in 2010 as an unpaid volunteer and was just re-elected to his second term as chief.

The (Corry) Journal reports that Roger Gilbert Jr. quit the Spartansburg department Sunday, a day after the newspaper reported on his criminal background.

"I don't know why she won't drop this", Wagner said of the victim's mother.

Gilbert, who acknowledged the molestation to The Journal, said that incident was the only time he committed a crime of that nature and it has never happened again. "You know, the story you are telling kids is once you make a mistake, you will be punished for the rest of your life".

Gilbert says he's been with the department for 25 years, and questions why it is such a big deal, right now.

Gilbert, now 43, told the Journal he has changed his life for the better since committing the crime in 2000 in the nearby city of Corry.

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Community officials, including Mayor Ann Louise Wagner, voiced support for Gilbert after his reelection - but Gilbert made a decision to step down amid the growing criticism.

But the victim's mother isn't buying it.

'The firemen have always elected their own officers and that's how it's always been done.

Pennsylvania state police say it's up to each community to decide whether to allow sex offenders who have completed their sentences to serve in an office at the local level. "They are putting other lives at stake by allowing him to be in this position".

'No grown man that has had intercourse with a four year old should still be alive! "You don't want this for your community".

Outrageous as it may seem, the mayor also supports the decision to re-elect Gilbert as chief of the department.

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