David Farrar was Talladega’s head librarian in 2008, when he left to accept a position in East Baton Rouge, La.
Brian Fielder, who Farrar told the Baton Rouge Advocate he has known since college and owns a real estate business with, succeeded him in Talladega until his resignation in December 2010. At the time, Fielder cited health and personal problems as prompting his resignation.
Farrar hired Fielder as his deputy director shortly afterward. Fielder was placed on administrative leave in June, after exchanging text message with and agreeing to meet a federal agent he thought was a 13-year-old boy. In some of the exchanges, Fielder asked the presumed boy to take inappropriate photograph and send them to him. Fielder resigned from his position about the same time he pleaded guilty in federal court to attempting to receive child pornography in September. He is currently living in Tennessee as a registered sex offender while he awaits sentencing. He faces five to 20 years in federal prison.
In the meantime, the library board in East Baton Rouge was evaluating Farrar’s performance when they discovered that Farrar had been arrested and charged with sexual assault and impersonating a police officer 15 years ago in Cullman, according to the Advocate.
At that time, two men claimed that Farrar had told them he was a police officer and had touched them inappropriately while pretending to “pat them down” behind a bar. The case went to trial and Farrar was convicted, but the judge dismissed the sexual assault charge. Farrar denies that he was anywhere near the alleged crime scene and offered to provide witnesses to that effect. The charges were politically motivated, he said.
Farrar also lacked the state certification required for the position.
Last week, Farrar sent a letter to the board members alleging ethical misconduct by three of them. He said for $2.3 million, which would compensate for lost pay and benefits and damage to his reputation, he would go away quietly and sign a confidentiality agreement. The board refused his offer and asked the state attorney general and ethics commission to conduct an independent investigation.
Farrar then tendered his resignation, which was accepted.
Farrar also filed for bankruptcy in September, primarily due to business debts associated with Charlie Chester LLC in Birmingham. Farrar transferred his half of the company to Fielder shortly before Fielder pleaded guilty.
Farrar was paid $90,000 per year and provided with a car as director. Fielder was paid $78,399 per year.
Talladega City Manager Brian Muenger said he found out about the situation Friday and immediately notified the council, the current library staff and Police Chief Alan Watson.
He said the city only conducts background checks on police officers and volunteer youth sports coaches in the Parks and Recreation Department. “And we’ve only started doing that in the past year,” he said, regarding the coaches. “We’re going to be seriously reexamining some of our policies in light of this, and looking at ways that we can strengthen our hiring policies. But the board has the authority to hire who and how they want, even though they are dependent on the city for a lot of their money. That’s just the way that relationship works.”
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.