Herbert Crawford, Pahokee Parks and Recreation director, fired

PAHOKEE, Fla. - Supporters of former Pahokee Parks and Recreation Director Herbert Crawford and Crawford himself picketed outside of Pahokee City Hall Monday asking for his job back.

"Reinstate me and pull back some of these perceptions and I'd like a public apology from my manager first of all," Crawford said. "The way this was handled I think was very unprofessional."

The former parks and recreation department director is facing allegations that he failed to report sexual abuse at the city's after school program.

The first incident happened in July when Latasha Crawford says her 9-year-old daughter was touched inappropriately by three boys.

"I came in and starting throwing around some things, I wanted to turn over desks and (Herbert) tried to calm me down and me and (Herbert) got in a heated discussion," Latasha said.

Latasha, who is Herbert's cousin, said she didn't want to report the boys to authorities.

However, she did ask Herbert to kick the three young boys out of the program.

"He's tried to resolve the issue by trying to keep things under control, but it wasn't under control and I kept telling (Herbert), you're too nice," she said.

NewsChannel 5's Ryan Calhoun asked Herbert "Why didn't you kick those kids out of the program after the first incident with your own family member?"

"You have seven and 8-year-old kids and like I said the easy way is to kick anyone out of anything but when you are trying to get help, that was the only way," Crawford replied.

Herbert Crawford said that five months later, the same boys touched and held another girl.

According to the Palm Beach County Health Department, this time it happened on an unsupervised bus.

A document from the department said personnel didn't report the alleged incident to the abuse hotline or the parent of the alleged victim.

Herbert Crawford said he was just trying to help the boys by not kicking them out.

"If I am found guilty of trying to help and provide service to some kids that really needed it, then I'm guilty of that," he said.

When asked if he regretted not kicking the kids out of the program, he said, "No. If I had to do it again I would do the same thing."

Herbert Crawford is also accused of misusing funds.

The Pahokee city manager received an invoice from a sporting goods company in Fort Lauderdale for more than $10,800 for football equipment.

Herbert Crawford said NFL players from Pahokee would donate the money, but the city said only $3,500 has been paid.

The city manager said this means the city still owes the remaining $7,300 of unbudgeted money.

"It's not what it seems," Crawford said.

"It's not what it seems so what is it and why can't you tell me," NewsChannel 5's Ryan Calhoun asked.

"You're doing a good job, but right now I don't want to answer until further conversations with an attorney," Crawford replied.

The Mayor of Pahokee said he supports the city manager's decision to fire Crawford.

We contacted the Department of Children and Families and they say they opened an investigation into the November incident.

NewsChannel 5 has put in a public records request for that incident document as well as his personnel file from the city manager's office, but haven't received it yet.

NewsChannel 5 has not learned of any charges pending against the children accused of sexually abusing the young girls.

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