Sex Offender Reported at Glenlake Pool Earlier This Week Arrested Today

A message posted on multiple neighborhood message boards in the past 24 hours – which has been forwarded to me many times – recounts an event at Glenlake Pool yesterday involving sex offender Robert McKenzie having been escorted from the pool area, after an incident on Monday when he reportedly “touched” a child.

Decatur Police informed me just moments ago that McKenzie was taken into custody by a Decatur Police Officer around 1pm today and based on his “documented appearance” at Glenlake Pool yesterday, Fulton County Probation Officers arrested McKenzie for probation violation.

Decatur Deputy Police Chief Keith Lee says they are trying to contact the parent who informed staff at the pool that McKenzie had “touched” his child at the pool yesterday, but thus far they have been unsuccessful.

Lee also states that DPD has been trying to coordinate with several agencies concerning McKenzie.” However…

Norfolk VA PD has been unable to locate the file concerning his conviction, so we do not know the nature of the offense. Also McKenzie’s conviction occurred before a change in the Georgia law concerning the sexual offender registry. Offenders convicted today are prohibited from living or congregating where children normally congregate. However those convicted before the law change are only restricted by specific court orders or probation conditions.

McKenzie was arrested in March of last year for harassing joggers on the Freedom Park trail and carrying a knife.  And back in May 2011, I received a forward from a cyclist in the area who reported that McKenzie had “reached out to grab onto” her on the Stone Mountain bike path on one occasion.

125 thoughts on “Sex Offender Reported at Glenlake Pool Earlier This Week Arrested Today”


  1. I saw him removed from the property yesterday. He was ranting about being thrown out, but I guess once he was out there was nothing more police could do until the report of touching. I wonder how long he was there before someone called police.

  2. The description of the incident on the Path sounds like the man on a bike that grabbed me and yelled boo. My confrontation took place in Clarkston in that stretch behind buildings and not visible from the road. I haven’t been back on my bike in almost a year because it scared me so.

  3. I have been avoiding the Path because of the reports of this man and his behavior. I’m so sorry to hear that the alleged incident involved a child.

  4. I wonder: if you get stopped for a speeding ticket, the police run your license to check for outstanding warrants, etc. If someone at the pool called police about this guy for trespassing, was there an opportunity to run his ID? Maybe he could have been arrested then? I’m asking a question, not criticizing. I have great appreciation for the Decatur Police force.

  5. This guy bikes around Avondale, on and near the Path and elsewhere, all the time. Much of the time he is loudly ranting about Lord knows what. I have also seen him dangerously zig-zagging in the road on at least 2 or 3 occassions. I thought he might be a bit crazy but did not seem dangerous, but hard to imagine that a sex offender heads over to a community pool with pure intentions.

  6. A friend of mine saw the touching and it wasn’t more than a hand on shoulder, so I am not really sure whether it constituted illegal behavior. I also am not sure from where the idea the man was trespassing came since he was in a public park, but we should be very grateful the police cannot- or should not- run a check on you just because you look weird and and seem off. We have to be very careful not to throw away civil liberties in exchange for a police state and some sort of false security. While indeed this man turned out to be one of the bad guys, I am much happier than Jabari Cole, director of aquatics, and Chief Lee handled this in a calm and legal manner.

          1. Stating that The Right is the group that wants to make it easier for all authority figures to more easily tap, stop, eavesdrop on, detain, etc., those whom it deems a “threat” is not a stereotype. Why, young man, it was not two hundred or so years ago that I uttered this pithy comment: “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

            As Rudy Giuliani would say in defense of his party’s shenanigans, “9/11!”

            The Republicans are the party of fear. In my most esteemed opinion. I invented bifocals, so I know I see this issue clearly!

            1. Arianna couldn’t have said it better herself.

              You should try having an original thought sometime, Ben. You’ll find it very liberating.

              And now back to our regularly scheduled programming, where I worry about the crazies out there wanting to bring harm to my children.

              1. Ben Franklin = Arianna Huffington?

                Wow, the Tea Party (Fox Network’s, er, I mean “grass roots” version 2009) really does love its history. Rather reminds me of when George Washington crossed the Rio Grande to help Sam Houston keep the Japanese out of South Korea.

                Carry on in the darkness, Good Sir!

                1. Quoting BF is fine. I was referring to your other comments, in which you are really just parroting the same old trite left vs. right white noise. So tiresome.

                  I’m done. The last word is all yours. Yawn.

                2. Tried to resist contributing to this minor thread-jacking, but I can’t. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool, tax-and-spend liberal who has only seriously considered voting for a Republican presidential candidate once in my life (and I’ve been voting since before a lot of you graduated from sippy cups); and I definitely don’t understand why anybody would have done so in the past few election cycles. On the other hand, there are plenty of people whom I like and respect, who did just that. (And they doubtless think the same about my electoral choices.) No idea who Token is in real life, but I agree with him/her nearly all the time, and appreciate his/her thoughtfulness and humor. What you have been spouting here, Ben Franklin, doesn’t contribute anything constructive. All you’re doing is proving that the right wing doesn’t have a monopoly on angry, divisive ideologues. Don’t make me dust off my “We’re All Really Purple” speech, I’m sure others have grown tired of it.

                  1. I don’t mind contributing to a thread jack and I, for one, would love to hear the “we are all really purple” speech. Unless it’s about the Minnesota Vikings…or Barney…

                    Oh yeah, +1 on your response to Benny as well…

    1. I’m sorry, but I think this kind of thinking is exactly the problem here. This man is sick. He does not live an easy or pleasurable life. It’s not like he is just odd or has a few mental differences – he is not and can not function in society on any level. He needs to be somewhere that he can safely be in his own little world. Civil liberties does not equal anarchy where we’re all just on our own. We have governments and institutions purely for these kinds of situations.

      Props to Jabari though, he gets stuff done.

      1. No, the problem is that our social services and criminal justice systems are so underfunded and dysfunctional that there are few choices for society to deal with this man. So what is going to happen to this guy? He will go to jail on a probation violation for what, six months? None of his issues will be dealt with and he will just emerge to offend again, probably worse this time. We have poorly funded, ill-equipped facilities, little mental health funding and very few answers. The fact that this man is on the street at all is a symptom of the failure of our system.

        I am not saying the man should not be kept away from general society. I actually talked to Jabari about this last night.I use the pools and I was very concerned. I also sent all the messages to DM and forwarded them to friends. All I am saying is that I am glad they didn’t respond to the emotion on message boards last night – and right now – and followed legal procedure. Someone acting in a way you find creepy, weird or off doesn’t equal a crime. If you don’t get what I meant, you are, obviously, repyling with “think of the chidlren” emotion rather than appareciating the fact that Jabari and Chief Lee did their jobs in a responsible way that respected the very precious concept of civil liberties while getting this guy off the street.

          1. I’d say you explained yourself just fine, Nelliebelle, or at least as well as someone who’s led such a sheltered life could be expected to do 😉

            The problem is not that the folks calling you out don’t understand what you are saying, it’s just that they’d rather make rash, emotional decisions based on worst-case fears. This is why the old saying that “bad facts make bad laws” is so often true. It’s not even worth trying to have a logical, rational discourse with people in a situation like this. The best one can hope is that the people in a position to enforce the law do so in an appropriate, reasonable manner, which certainly appears to be the case here.

            Now, I’d say it’s definitely time for one of those yummy concoctions in that other thread…

          2. You just about nailed it, Nellie. I should point out, though, that even though it’s not a crime to act “off” or mutter under one’s breath, the police can almost always find a way to impute “reasonable suspicion” (the threshold standard for a stop of a person, whether on foot or in a vehicle). Judges tend to agree with the police in matters like this, so the civil liberties of even law-abiding people can be infringed just as easily as the “bad people”– I agree that this is not a good thing. I also agree with you that until we put into place a system to address the needs of our mentally ill population, the jails will continue to be overcrowded with people who should actually be in a psychiatric hospital. Outrage tends to make people who are otherwise helpless feel as if they are not powerless against the real monsters that lurk, so I understand that, too. In this case, the “reasonable suspicion” turned out to be justified. In too many other cases, it hasn’t been.

            Without going into too much detail, I know better than most people probably do the terror of being assailed by a stranger who’s bigger and stronger. While I survived, and now have a wonderful life, there are scenes that periodically haunt the small dark corners of my dreams, and probably will for the rest of my life. Even so, I still believe that civil liberty is as important as (if not more so) safety, and I hope I always will.

              1. Sorry I’m late to this phase of the discussion, but I had two hearings today, so have been BIZZY! As I understand it, the offense he was charged is a form of attempt, in that it involves a proposition rather than actual physical contact (which would bump the offense into a more serious class of felony). By no means should it be considered a trivial offense simply because it didn’t stray over into a physical act.

                That being said, I thought that since his file got lost, the NPD wasn’t really sure what he’d actually done, just the title of the offense with which he was charged. That doesn’t lessen the seriousness of his offense, but it is germane to what his probation (or, if he went to jail & got out early, parole) terms were. Looking at the law in Virginia (see below), it appears that because his conviction was before 2008, he would not have been required to avoid all proximity with children. However, since his conviction was after 2000, he would’ve been prohibited from being within 100 feet of a school. Small comfort, given the circumstances, but there you are.

                http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-370.2

        1. NellieBelle,
          It’s always difficult to determine tone of voice and intent when reading posts. So, having said that, you’re right, you can’t run off and just arrest people. Or accuse. And we (as Americans) have carefully put a system of mores into place that help us not to do that. While the system is not perfect, it has represented Robert McKenzie. He’s not a first time offender. He’s not just a guy walking down the street behaving a little differently. I have encountered him while riding my bike and the truth is he’s just freakin’ scary. His previous offense, for which he was out on probation (where he allegedly touched a minor in an inappropriate manner), stipulates that he must stay a certain distance away from dhildren and where they congregate. I understand that you would like everyone to keep a cool head and let the system “work” in a rational way but that’s not who this guy is.

          1. “His previous offense, for which he was out on probation (where he allegedly touched a minor in an inappropriate manner), stipulates that he must stay a certain distance away from dhildren and where they congregate.”

            How do you know all this? Unless I missed something, from the facts presented I can’t tell what exactly he has done in the past. His crime was in VA and all it says is his crime was “Taking Indecent Liberties w Child.” I also don’t see where his probation stipulates how far from children he can be.

              1. You’re right to an extent, that all of this could be considered sexual. However, the intent of what someone was doing can be easily manipulated if one cares to, and often many care to if they’re dealing with someone they deem as being a bit “off.”

                Do know that this “off” person could have been arrested for this crime, as outlined, for something as innocent as taking a leak behind a bush in a park. If a child saw this happening, or if someone decided to say a child saw it, then someone could choose to try and make the case that he relieved himself with the intent of showing something to a child.

                All I’m saying is that everyone should be careful on ALL sides of this argument.

          1. Since I am not- and you are not – privy to his mental health records or details of his crimes, it’s hard to say. It sounds like he needs medication, therapy, possible commitment in a mental health facility that can prevent him from harming others or himself, but hey, since the state of Georgia doesn’t exactly have the most stellar record in mental health advocacy, facilities or funding, what will most likely happen is he will be jailed briefly, possibly given medication in jail that will help briefly, then released back onto the streets to do this over again. Reagan defunded the mental health system in 1980s, at a pivotal time in its development and it has never recovered.

            So, Heather, what do you think do happens when the police arrest someone, especially someone mentally ill, on minor charges like probation- not parole- violation? All it does is remove the person from your line of sight for a little while. He’ll get out and it’ll start all over again, maybe not in Decatur but somewhere else. Institutions and jails are revolving doors for people like this man, and until we commit to finding answers and fixing broken mental health and criminal justice systems as a society that won’t change.

            1. It’s all good and well to talk about the problems in “the system” until you’re alone on the trail with someone like this. He should never have been paroled in the first place. I’m glad the system finally got it right.

              1. There is no contradiction in wanting the system fixed to prevent someone like this being on the trail and also wanting to use the criminal system to get him off the trail now. In a civilized, humane world, we could hopefully have both.

                1. In a civilized, humane world, we wouldn’t have predators stalking people on bike paths and swimming pools.

                  1. How does my comment “…also wanting to use the criminal system to get him off the trail now. ” not address your concern?

                  2. In a civilized world, citizens would step up and report a concern instead of shrugging it off as “Not my problem.” In a humane world, folks would pause to think “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” and seek to find a positive solution that benefits our community and Robert McKenzie, instead of relying on incarceration when his mental impairment is the underlying cause of his actions.

                    1. Addiction can’t be cured, only treated. Or so I’ve been told. If this man’s addiction is predatory behavior, can he be cured? At what point does a mental impairment become criminal? This event generates more and more questions for me.

                    2. Very interesting article. Its premise of a complex relationship between biology and free will is a bit daunting, but at least it suggests a new way of dealing with criminal behavior, rather than just pointing out that it’s not so simple. I used to read The Atlantic regularly pre-children!

                    3. This all raises so many questions… Not knowing Robert McKenzie, I don’t know why he does what he does. It’s frightening, though, how easily folks can fall through the cracks when they need help, but aren’t capable of pursuing it on their own. Would a support system or therapeutic assistance be enough to change his unacceptable behaviors? No way of telling, but it’d sure be worth finding out. He’ll just remain in an endless catch & release cycle until something better- or worse- happens.

                      The Atlantic article’s very interesting, and so is the link DecaturCyn supplied below.

            2. So because he won’t ge the help he apparently needs, we shouldn’t do anything at all? We should wait for him to commit a very serious crime before the police locked him up?

              In this case, he DID do something wrong: he was in the presence of children when he was strictly forbidden to be.

              1. I don’t think anyone is saying not to do whatever is legal and just to remove a proven, dangerous person from hurting others. I think the point is that this will just be a revolving door, band-aid solution if more fundamental issues about how to handle the mentally ill are not addressed. The criminal justice system is so overloaded right now and prisons are so full and so expensive that the prison system is looking for any excuse to release inmates.

              2. Again, where has anyone seen that he is specifically forbidden to be around children. I’m not seeing that anywhere but the claim keeps being made.

        2. This may be just the kind of case that benefits from a mental health division within the court system, as described in the link below. (I heard an excellent and fascinating NPR story about the topic 1-2 months ago.) Georgia’s applicable legislation was signed just this year, so the state may eventually be able to offer more comprehensive, customized intervention strategies for offenders like McKenzie.

          http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/mentalhealth.html

    2. I saw him at the pool yesterday and I’m surprised that staff didn’t call someone sooner. He was pacing back and forth in regular street clothes and cursing under his breath. That constitutes suspicious behavior to me. I thought he was a maintenance worker or I would have said something to the staff myself. He wasn’t just “acting weird” he was threatening and out of place.

      1. I have heard that he has been incarcerated in the past and there have been incidents in which he was armed. While I don’t wish to live in a police state, I think this guy was all around bad news.

        He may be mentally disabled, but he also sounded like he was a threat, so I think it appropriate that police were involved.

        Here’s some information from Avondale Estates police, “Subject has displayed behavior that may indicate a degree of being mentally impaired. Records indicate that the person has been charged with sexual crimes and being armed in the past.”

        Bloggers have said McKenzie’s recent brushes with the law include stalking and harrassing women joggers in the Virginia Highland and Freedom Park areas. Another incident occurred in Inman Park.

        Because of his 2004 conviction, McKenzie may not live, work or loiter near where children congregate.

        http://decatur.patch.com/articles/wheels-and-heels-local-cyclists-warn-about-possible-predator

        1. What’s your supporting documentation for “Because of his 2004 conviction, McKenzie may not live, work or loiter near where children congregate.”?

          I only ask because DPD states above that Norfolk PD “has been unable to locate the file concerning his conviction, so we do not know the nature of the offense.” and if you have a trail to where his conviction info is located, I would let Decatur PD know post-haste.

          1. I cannot find my earlier notes, but I believe I reported that based on what I was told by Avondale Police. I’ll defer to Chief Lee on the status of the law concerning this man’s conviction. But we may assume that his offense was ” TAKING INDECENT LIBERTIES W CHILD” and was serious enough to require that he register in Georgia as a sex offender, since that is what the GBI link states.

            1. But Lee also stated “Also McKenzie’s conviction occurred before a change in the Georgia law concerning the sexual offender registry. Offenders convicted today are prohibited from living or congregating where children normally congregate. However those convicted before the law change are only restricted by specific court orders or probation conditions.”

              That seems to be in direct contradiction to your assertion that “Because of his 2004 conviction, McKenzie may not live, work or loiter near where children congregate.”, no?

              1. As I previously noted, I don’t know where that comment came from, but I believe it came from Avondale Police, who might have been wrong.

                However, I have confirmed with Chief Lee that the terms of McKenzie’s probation prohibited him from having contact with children, which is why he was arrested. In pursuing a story for Patch, I attempted to contact the office in charge of parole to find out more details, but they’ve got an execution tonight, so they have their hands full.

          1. And this is not a court, now, is it?
            AJC reported that the fellow was arrested last year with a knife, and DM has provided a link here to that story.

  7. I’d say from the comments in this post alone, he poses a threat to children and adults. Not that I’m suggesting we need to be stopping any and all people and running warrants but a fully clothed man acting strangely at a public pool with children present needs to be checked out.

    Can someone confirm if he’s the guy I see biking all over Decatur at all hours with reflectors covering his spokes, usually doing the previously mentioned muttering under his breath? It’s hard to tell from the photo but surely this is the same one.

    1. Same guy. The cycling community is well aware of him. His behavior has been documented on all area cycling blogs. He’s been know to chase females down and follow them along the PATH.

      1. Hopefully they’re all reporting it to the police? I’ve seen some of the cycling threads. There seem to be tons of folks aware of him. However, DPD sounds like it’s having a not so easy time building a case against him, which is sort of concerning.

        1. Very good point, DM. Call DPD if anything seems out of sorts for any reason on this or any other subject. It may not seem significant to you, but, together with other things, it may add up to something more.

          If you’re in the City, use the non-emergency number 404-373-6551 on your cell phone (mine is programmed onto a “hot” key) because otherwise you may get shuffled around to various other departments. Remember that Decatur has its own 911 center and the non-emergency number is answered by the same people.

  8. Right on, nelliebelle1197. I’m the father of two kids myself. Your posts on this topic are pretty much congruent with my thinking.

  9. How many kids does this pervert need to touch before he is kept in jail ??? 1 child wasn’t enough?

    Stop crowding the prisons with 18 year olds having sex with 16 year olds, and trying to prosecute juvenile girls for child pornography charges for sexting their own pics, and keep the real threats to children off the street.

    I’m not a fan of violence and even waffle on the fence about the death penalty being legal, but when it comes to a story like this, where this man is repeatedly threatening children even after being involved with the legal system, I wouldn’t feel bad about hearing that a couple of the dads took him to a secluded area in the park and kicked the ____ out of him. Obviously he hasn’t gotten the message from law enforcement.

    1. Or a public lynching on the square? We’ll make the headlines everywhere: Mentally Disturbed Man Hung for Touching Child on Shoulder at Pool. Good people from all miles and miles around will dress up in their Sunday best and take their wagons to town. So glad the hitching post is still there!

    2. I don’t completely agree with the death penalty (as I mentioned above) so I wouldn’t support something like that.

      You seem to be minimizing the account of this man touching the child, and if this were someone without a previous history, it could possibly just be a paranoid parent.

      But…

      As it stands now, everyone just has to stand around and *hope* he touches more children, or grabs more women from the bike path for the police to do anything.

      In the meantime everyone that comes into contact with him is at risk…

      He was armed last year when he was arrested (twice) and is back up to his old tricks.

      There really isn’t much to minimize here.

      (BTW, putting aside the child issue for a minute, grabbing a person in motion off their bike could easily injure or even kill someone)

    3. “Stop crowding the prisons with 18 year olds having sex with 16 year olds” and nonviolent drug changes.

    4. I am kind of agreeing with this approach. It keeps it personal and non- bureaucratic But what if was the wrong guy we grabbed and beat-up?

  10. I’m sorry, but whether it was a touch on the shoulder or elsewhere, no stranger should put their hands on my child in any way. You can’t minimize it by saying “it was just a touch on the shoulder.” After an experience that my cousin had a police officer told her never assume it is nothing and they would rather you call the police to handle a minor situation that could be no big deal in the end rather than risk something harmful occurring. This man is scary-he has yelled at me and my daughter in the square as we were just walking by.

    1. No, you are right. A stranger shouldn’t touch you or your child without permission unless it’s to save you drowning or push you out of the way of a bus!

    2. Yeah, I thought the same thing when I read ‘a touch on the shoulder.’ I thought you were a little blase about it, Nell, but as you confirmed even that is inappropriate. I also considered the intimate setting of a pool. By it’s very nature, there’s a lot more exposed skin. And at that pool, the children often outnumber the adults. Which brings me to my question to Cuba. What is this guy’s former conviction? If he is a predator, can you think of a more tempting place than a pool? Just as an alcoholic should stay clear of bars, this man shouldn’t be near a school, playground, much less a pool. He lost some civil liberties when he chose to rob a child of his or her liberties. Again, my feelings on this weigh heavily on his former crime and I’m uncertain as to what ‘indecent liberties with a child’ means. Was he exposing himself? Was it something more? If it is something more, even a progressive like myself has a hard time controlling my outrage towards child molestation. I don’t want this guy in my universe, much less at my local pool.

  11. How many of you have children? Those of us who do should know that any touch by a stranger is inappropriate and should not be tolerated. It takes just one incident to ruin a child’s life forever. It’s important to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our children. Too often we allow things to take place because we think we would be inconsiderate or judgmental if we said something and we don’t trust our own instincts. More times than not, our instincts are correct. Trust them.

    I wasn’t there, but it sounds like Jabari and the Decatur police handled it correctly. A big thank you to the person who called the police. I’m glad to know that fellow Decatur-ites aren’t afraid to speak up when something is amiss. No matter whether you’re liberal or conservative, it’s clear that he should not have been there and certainly should not have been making any sort of physical contact with children.

  12. Based on available information, this guy is not someone we want roaming around among us. But as Nellie pointed out, he’s at liberty because our criminal justice and mental health systems are not able to cope with him effectively. I don’t think anybody who has commented here has advocated letting him hang around the pool or doing anything besides locking him up. But the fact is that he isn’t going to stay locked up. And don’t fool yourself–there are hundreds, maybe thousands, more like him in Georgia alone, some less dangerous and some more dangerous, at large as we speak. Most are invisible until they do something to get in our faces, which many never do. They prey on others–not us–or are not predatory at all (but likely preyed upon themselves). Not all mentally ill people are criminals and not all criminals are mentally ill, but since there is a lot of overlap the two systems should work in concert. As a society, we haven’t demanded that they work at all, so they barely do.

    A “civil and humane society” has proved an elusive goal so far in human history. If that’s what we truly aspire to, then we need to try and respond to an incident–or series of incidents–like this with cool heads instead of torches and pitchforks, and try to distinguish between symptoms and root problems, and then think about how to address the problems.

    I also don’t think Nellie or anybody else sought to trivialize the touching, but instead to suggest we try to maintain a little perspective. Hearing that a convicted sex offender “touched a child” at the swimming pool instantly conjures up a worst-case scenario in our heads. Hearing that the touch was on the shoulder, that the offender was in street clothes on the pool deck (not in the pool), and that the aquatics director and police were on top of the matter, conveys a different message and one that leaves room for us to take in the whole situation more calmly and maybe have a clear thought about it, instead of being overwhelmed by our emotional responses.

    1. I hear what ya preaching, but I still affirm even if it was a touch on a shoulder, this man shouldn’t be at the park. Any level of touch is wholly inappropriate. For a predator, wouldn’t this seemingly simple touch cause enormous excitement? When that excitement simmers down, a predator will need something more substantial. Hell, these twisted minds actually scour Flickr in search of children in bathing suits. It’s hard for rational people to comprehend but for these people, a public pool is downright pornographic.

  13. +1
    I complete lot agree-Your civil liberties are no concern of mine when you inappropriately touch a child. It is heartbreaking to hear a child has been harmed by a repeat offender who should have never been out of jail or who gets a pass because his civil liberties have been infringed upon.

    1. “It is heartbreaking to hear a child has been harmed”
      —-
      This is the kind of unnecessarily inflammatory dialogue from which I wish everybody would refrain. I don’t know the child and so acknowledge it’s possible she was actually harmed by this encounter. Much more likely, I imagine, is that she was creeped out and possibly frightened — much would depend on her age, her temperament, what if anything the guy said, and last but not least, how the adults in her vicinity and in her life responded. Without doubt, this child and every other one at the pool that day were in peril. But there is a difference between threat of harm and actual harm. Let’s not make this child carry the baggage of our hysteria — if she was truly harmed, then she and her family have their own baggage to deal with. Otherwise, everybody ought to take a deep breath, and not muddy up discussion of this very grave issue with unnecessary (and certainly not imaginary) drama.

      BTW, if you’re outraged this repeat offender is at large, then consider voting for people who will increase funding for mental health and the penal system. He’s not running around loose because we cherish his civil liberties–he gets released because we can’t afford to keep him locked up, in either the prison or the hospital.

      1. I’m sorry, but I really don’t think it’s “hysteria” when people are outraged that a convicted sex offender is hanging around at a public pool touching children.

        This isn’t an over reaction in this particular case. He has been arrested at least 3 times for touching, stalking and harassing people. And given the multiple of accounts of encounters with this man, these aren’t 3 isolated incidents.

        BTW, a quick Google popped this up. This was what the GA sex offender listed as his charge from VA.
        http://law.justia.com/codes/virginia/2010/title-18-2/chapter-8/18-2-370/

        I’m all for changing laws. But until then, people will have to rely old fashioned common sense. And common sense tells me that a convicted sex offender should not be hanging around at a public pool.

        1. Well, no, I don’t think outrage is the same as hysteria. But I do think advocating vigilante justice — as you did earlier — suggests a lack of rational thought. Beating the guy up might satisfy some visceral urge of your own, but it won’t have any effect on his behavior.

          1. I’m not surprised that out of everything I said that’s what you picked up on. Not that his charges on the other cases are actually quite serious, or that the man was armed the other times he was arrested. That seemed to float right by you.

            I don’t advocate vigilante justice, but I certainly wouldn’t shed any tears over it. I’ll save those for the victims. You have expressed more sympathy for this pervert than you have for the children and victims involved.

            Whether the child in question at the pool was harmed or not, is hardly the point. Registered sex offenders have no business touching children. That’s the point.

            “Much more likely, I imagine, is that she was creeped out and possibly frightened ”

            While we don’t know one way or the other, this “probably no big deal” attitude is what allows sex offenders and child predators to be released again and again. It’s also the attitude that keeps victims, adults included, from coming forward. I mean, who knows? They’ll probably forget all about it one day, it was just a small fright, or realize they even enjoyed it.

            Give me a break.

            1. Replace “sex offenders” with “terrorists” and see what y’all get out of this “discussion”.

            2. I chose to comment on what I thought was the most irrational of your comments. My choice, what else can I say?

              I have no sympathy for the devil, I am simply capable of holding more than one thought in my head at the same time. Just because I think beating him up would not accomplish anything, doesn’t mean I think he should be running around loose, knocking women off their bicycles and going where children congregate.

              I don’t consider this “no big deal.” But as I understand this incident, something that could have turned out much worse got nipped in the bud. Only the family who were directly involved know what harm was suffered. Getting touched on the shoulder by a stranger is creepy and alarming (I hope every child knows that), but it is not necessarily a sexual experience for a child, nor does the child necessarily suffer lasting harm. That’s for the family to determine, not for others in the community to use rhetorically to pursue their own agendas.

              BTW, what allows sexual predators and repeat offenders to be released again and again is a criminal justice system that is mostly broken because we aren’t collectively willing to spend the money to fix it. We have overburdened law enforcement and prosecution organizations, swamped court dockets, and overcrowded prisons because we have not made it a priority to ensure otherwise.

              1. Again, applause, stg. I get so fed up with people who believe that those of us who aren’t ready to “string ’em up & hang ’em high” don’t care about children, or have more “sympathy” for the alleged perpetrator– what overblown nonsense! All the inflammatory rhetoric that’s been heaped on you & others of us who agree with your opinions doesn’t prove that the posters engaging in it care more than we do about keeping children (and the community at large) safe, it just shows that they’re bound and determined to demonize anyone who doesn’t share their viewpoints on such a hotbutton issue. Well, I think it speaks volumes for your class that you don’t return their incivility, even though they richly deserve it. Often, I see your measured posts, and do my best to emulate your tone, even as I sometimes struggle not to give as good as I get when someone acts a fool up on this board. I don’t always win that struggle, but you inspire me to keep trying. So, keep on keepin’ on!

                  1. Thank to you and others for actually UNDERSTANDING the point I was making. I simply had to laugh when one poster accused me of being “sheltered”. It’s the last thing I am and the comment was actually ironic rather than insulting. I have worked in social services most of my career, and sadly, I do understand fully the dynamics fully on all sides here. I find nothing more disheartening than the fact that our resource-rich country refuses to invest in things that promote – and protect -e the general welfare. I am glad others see my points clearly and choose to defend them more articulately than I.

  14. Having read all of this thread this morning, I need to add my support to Nellie and others who have espoused the civil liberties view and need for increased social services funding. And sit down and take a deep breath and think before I say more.

  15. I add my support to Heather and others who have placed the emphasis where it belongs, on protecting the children from people like this.

    1. I think everyone is focussed on protecting the children. Ironically, we seem to be arguing about what is more important–removing the potentially dangerous individual who we identify in the public setting? Or preventing that individual from ever being in the public setting in the first place? Arguably, both are imperative if we want our children protected, not just at Glenlake today, but most everywhere, most of the time.

    2. And I do not think it is an either/or situation, dispite some peoples need to make this discussion out that way.

      1. So by all these posts, first to last, you are able to read a community’s unified reaction to what happened? Never mind the ben franklin troll, or Veg, both of whom I’ve mentally filtered out.

        1. A “community’s unified reaction” sounds like a very dangerous thing to me. Maybe like Salam, Massachusetts in the 1600’s or Germany in the 1930’s…

  16. I just want to point out that, while it is true that predators are out there and among us every day, we should not live in fear. My knee-jerk reaction when I hear stories like this, Leiby Kletzky in Brooklyn, Jaycee Dugard, et al, is never to let my children out of my sight–I even thought for a moment that I would not go back to Glenlake Pool this summer!

    But we need not and cannot live like that. We need to educate our children about strangers, good touch and bad touch, inappropriate touch, what to do if you feel threatened/scared/uncomfortable, and so forth. In my experience, CSD does a good job of opening the dialogue for this with our kids, but the point is as parents we need to keep the dialogue going. After hearing about Leiby Kletzy, whose story touched me not only as a parent, but because he was eight years old (the same age as my daughter), walking home from school in a very safe neighborhood (which reminded me of Decatur, where many kids go to and from school unaccompanied by an adult) I had another talk with both of my daughters about strangers. We talked about all different scenarios (they had some wild ideas!), and I went over the basic rules again.

    Kids are smart enough to know that the world is not black and white–not all strangers are bad and not all mentally ill people are dangerous. Obviously, there are some “nevers”–like never get in a car with a stranger, never answer the door without an adult first checking to see who it is, never tell a stranger where you live, and never feel bad or guilty saying no, etc. We need to keep talking about these issues and give them the tools to help navigate through our society.

    I always feel safe at pools and parks in Decatur. I feel that we all as parents look out for other people’s children. I hope that this incident reinforces our sense of community rather than causes people to be fearful.

    1. Heather,

      I think these are all good points about educating children. However, the focus on “stranger danger” is problematic in general — not saying this is necessarily your focus. What children REALLY need more education on is how to stay safe among family friends and acquaintances, and even around their own parents. The overwhelming majority of people who harm children aren’t strangers; they’re parents, friends, family, etc.

      There seems to be a general correlation between paranoia about strangers (again, not saying this is you at all Heather) and resistance to instituting the sorts of social programs that are far more likely to keep children safe than teaching them to fear strangers/the mentally ill/sex offenders/whomever.

      1. Thanks, ZV. I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately, I know too well from people I am close to, and that statistically, most abuse (sexual and other) is perpetrated by close friends and relatives of the child. I talk to my children about this, too. Like I said, if the dialogue has not been started by pre-k, CSD does a great job of opening the dialogue about abuse. I’ve talked to counselors in the system about the program that starts in Kindergarten, and I wish that they could do even more, because I believe that education about personal safety should be an ongoing dialogue. As you noted, and according to the counselors, a lot of parents are resistant to anyone talking to their kids about it.

  17. Good grief,
    I meant in general-cases on the news in which a child has been truly harmed by a repeat offender. I was not implying that this child was harmed. I agree with Heather about educating our children. Even though it can be scary, they must be prepared for situations that unfortunately can occur at any time and place.

  18. I am truly having a hard time deciding what scares me more: the thought of dangerous predators lurking in our community or the vitriol and contempt spewed by a number of folks here based on incomplete and uncertain facts.

    As someone with both personal and professional experience with both mental illness and the criminal justice system (lest I be written off as just another sheltered naif) I understand all too well the point that Nelliebelle was making, and which the most vocal detractors here rushed right past on the way to forming their virtual lynch mob.

    I could go on, but I know that rational discourse is sometimes just not possible. This is something the framers of our Constitution understood as well and it’s why we have certain protections, both from the government and from ourselves, built into it. And thank God for that!

    Now, with the proliferation of JTs around here, I wonder if I will need a new, unique name. Until then, see my gravatar and, in true Decatur fashion, you shall know me by my dogs…

    1. “I am truly having a hard time deciding what scares me more: the thought of dangerous predators lurking in our community or the vitriol and contempt spewed by a number of folks here based on incomplete and uncertain facts.”

      If you’re actually having trouble deciding which scares you more, rather than just having touble expressing yourself clearly, then I’d say you have a problem.

      1. LOL! I know you meant that as a snarky insult, PP, but I beg of DM to leave it unedited. It proves my point much more eloquently than I ever could!

        1. No, I’m not good as you are at being snarky, and hurling insults isn’t one of my strong points, either. Some people actually do draw fairly equal amounts of negative emotion from the two points you mention, and that’s what fired me up a bit. I’ll be extra careful in the future to generalize my comments as much as possible, especially when replying to anything you posted.

          1. “…which scares you more, rather than just having touble expressing yourself clearly…”

            Your words Pete, and making a distinction is not ignoring the difference between two ideas.
            I have touble expressing myself, too.

  19. I doubt that anyone thinks that this registered sex offender with a prior conviction of “taking indecent liberties with a child” has any business being at a public pool. (I keep thinking of a scene in the movie “Little Children” in which a convicted child molestor appears at a public pool–creepy).

    I also doubt that anyone believes the touch on the shoulder was innocent on the offender’s part.

    My point was, predators are everywhere, whether or not they have prior convicitons, are registered sex offenders, or are obviously “off.” We need to not only rely on the justice and mental health systems to keep these people off the street (because appraently these systems are struggling and failing), but also rely on each other as a community, and as parents, teach our children the best we can to keep them safe.

    The murderer who took Leiby Kletzky had no prior arrests or convictions, other than public urination. However, several community members had noted everything from “oddball behavior” to stalking one boy, and attempting to kidnap another boy.

    I’m just saying that we need to be vigilant rather than fearful (or solely rely on “the systems” to keep us safe) and to educate our kids.

  20. I have always wondered what the deal was with Crazy Guy Who Constantly Rides His Bike and Yells At People. I guess now I know.

      1. I’m a cyclist and see him around a lot. I saw him riding next to a local woman coming up Clarendon recently and didn’t think much of it as she didn’t look particularly concerned. Next time, I’m turning around and making sure he finds someone else to bother. It seems to me it’s only a matter of time until he crosses the line and actually assaults someone.

  21. OK, I now think everybody really should use nicknames and pseudonyms, they’re easier to keep track of. Until I realized “Heather” and “HeatherS” are two different people, I was becoming quite confused. There isn’t enough color distinction between their two quilt squares to register on my feeble brain.

  22. i don’t understand how anyone has a problem with police doing a background check on someone who is acting completely inappropriate in a public place.If I understand it correctly your name is run through the computer when you are pulled over for a moving violation.I was not there,but the description of his actions seem to be a little more than”off”

  23. Sergeant Jennifer Ross has requested I post this statement for Decatur Metro readers:

    “I have been researching Robert McKenzie for the past several months as we were made aware of discussions and warnings circulating via email, mostly due to McKenzie’s interactions with local cyclists. However, most of the information I have was third party from someone who heard about an incident or concerns regarding McKenzie. I am reaching out to ask anyone who has had direct contact with McKenzie of a harassing, threatening or intimidating nature to please send me an email explaining the incident. Please provide the approximate date, location and circumstances. I am aware that incidents with McKenzie are not contained to Decatur but span through Atlanta, Dekalb, Decatur, Avondale and Stone Mountain. I am asking for information on any incident with McKenzie, not just those in Decatur. I am also still trying to locate the father and child from the recent incident at Glenlake Pool and ask that if you know how to contact this family, please ask them to contact me. Thank you.”

    Sgt. Jennifer S. Ross
    City of Decatur Police Department
    Criminal Investigations Division
    [email protected]

    1. Ha! If one of this guy’s problems is Paranoia, he might be coming by it honestly!

      Under his breath what he is really muttering is: “They’re all out to get me. Everyone’s talking about me. They’re tracking my every move. I can feeeeeel it!”

      I can’t get the phrase “reverse-stalking” out of my head.

      1. With the track record of the Fulton County Jail, I’d take their listing with a grain of salt…

  24. What? Decatur should be as unwelcoming as humanly possible to convicted pedophiles. Period. Anything else is irrelevant.

  25. I am cutting and pasting from my email to the officer… Very alarmed.

    I encountered this man on a bike very early into a twenty mile run I was doing in preparation for a marathon. I have a training log so I know for sure it was September the 18th, 2010. I left our house on Hosea L. Williams Dr. and went towards Candler, turned left and on that immediate down hill he was biking and startled me. It was before 8am and no one else was out. He said hi and asked me where I was going, if he could run with me and was generally creepy. This happens every once in a while in our area so I just was polite but tried to be dismissive. My now husband was at home and I had my phone so I just thought he’d leave me alone.

    Flash forward to College right near Acadia and he finds me again… keeps talking to me, saying hi, and asking if he can run with me. I am getting more freaked out but I didn’t want him to sense my unease. I know I need to go to Stone Mountain on the path and that is remote and not safe, but this was a big run and I was stupid. I got on the path in Scottsdale and he kept literally popping out of the word works…. talking to me and creeping me out. I have my phone in my hand, tried my husband, but just kept running. I encountered a few other people and he would disappear. Only to return. He followed me all the way till I crossed 285. I tried to imply that me husband would be joining me shortly and talk to other runners like I knew them but he was really persistent. He did not directly threaten me but he followed me for a great distance. My gut was don’t freak him out or he will hurt you. I am now very thankful that other people came out as the morning grew later. I am not sure if you know where on the path this is, but I recollect a Police Department on the far side of 285 as the neighborhood turns more Asian in make-up. I was going to stop there but I never saw him again.

    I have not run on the path since because of him.

  26. sometimes you can mentally ill and still culpable for your crimes. sometimes the two are mutually exclusive.

  27. If you really want to freak yourself out, go to the sex registry and look up your home town. I found a classmate and a friend’s father on there!

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