No Redemption

A child molester wants back into society and the American dream

But he doesn't understand why his confession and conviction for child molestation should bar him from working for any CPA firm in the country. A conviction for embezzlement, yes. Sex offender, no.

His new job search isn't going well. He gets calls, interest and even face-to-face interviews, but when he tells them about his criminal history, it's over. He says some employers really want to hire him but can't work it through their legal departments.

Gary White of White-Orugboh did hire Jamil, and kept him with him for ten years.

Jamil Crowley is counting on Americans' sense of fair play to give him and others like him a second chance.
Margaret Downing
Jamil Crowley is counting on Americans' sense of fair play to give him and others like him a second chance.

"He was a good worker. He can't be licensed as a CPA. He can do all of the work. He's totally qualified. But he can't sign off on it."

White says when he hired Jamil, he didn't know of his criminal past, but Jamil eventually told him. If Jamil hadn't told him, White says, he wouldn't have known. Finding out didn't change things.

"It wasn't a problem. My particular work environment doesn't involve children. He worked in the office, not out in the field at all."

Wife Antoinette says she supports her husband and was never worried about him being around her children. What he did wrong was so long ago, she says. After all his hard work, why can't he get a job that gives him a chance to demonstrate more of his abilities, to help them to a better life?

This support comes with a heavy price. The Crowleys are about to be homeless. They have to be out of their rent house by October 1. They're out of savings, and the owner wants to sell the rental property. Their options are limited. They can't stay with family in town; there's not enough room. The Crowleys don't go to a particular church. Asked if they have any close friends, they come up empty.

They seem so isolated even before beginning on this crusade, you have to wonder, how is a man like this going to rally troops to a singularly unpopular cause?

They considered going into a shelter, but they're sure they're full with displaced folks from the hurricanes. Besides, because of his record, it isn't likely that Jamil would be admitted, and they don't want to be split up. Jamil and Antoinette haven't quite explained all this to her kids, a 15-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy, because they don't want to burden them. They figure they'll probably end up living in their black 1991 Dodge Ram conversion van, at least for a while. Which presents a whole other problem: Jamil's five-year-old. Jamil shares custody of his son with the boy's mother, and he knows there's no way she's going to let her son sleep in a van at night.

Another reason he doesn't want to go into the shelter is a control issue. "Once you go in a shelter, then people start putting pressure on you to do things the way they want you to do them," Jamil says. "Any kind of job. You're invisible again."

As Jamil puts it: "The screws are being tightened even further," with new housing restrictions going into effect across the country that keep out people convicted of certain crimes. In August, Brazoria decided that sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of children in its town. Since it is so small, that effectively shuts off the whole town. Jamil first started renting their present house years before the sexual offenders registry. He's afraid now that no one will rent to them.

Antoinette, who has worked as a certified nursing assistant, doesn't work outside the home now. She spends her days homeschooling her children. Even before the incident at Tinsley Elementary, Jamil says, he was dissatisfied with the education the children were getting in public schools. So he's designed a curriculum, and he and Antoinette work with them each day. Mostly, he comes up with the ideas and she carries them out, he says. His mother thinks Antoinette should go to work, but he tells her that the $6 an hour that she'd probably bring in isn't going to keep them afloat.

That's his role, keeping things going, providing for them. But he won't go back to his previous job. He says he outgrew that years ago. He is determined to get the better job that he believes he deserves. That, or make it possible for others to get the jobs they should be able to get.

"I've been anonymous for 42 years, and I'm not looking for fame," Jamil says. "But it's time for me to step up."

Jamil has outlined big plans, including "an 11-city grassroots action initiative" wrapping up in Washington, D.C., with the Millions More Movement gathering.

In its initial form, however, the enterprise is not off to the smoothest of starts. Jamil's group, composed of his wife, one of his four brothers and a son, decided to go door-to-door the weekend before Hurricane Rita.

It did not go well. Even though it was in broad daylight, people in his southwest Houston neighborhood didn't like opening their doors to him and weren't receptive to the message of offenders' rights and the follow-up request for donations. "I learned a lot," he says. "You don't go knocking on doors of people whose houses have been broken into." There were some slammed doors, some very short conversations. "I've sold encyclopedias door-to-door and it was easier than this," he says.

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