Montana Mental Health Worker Who Reported Child Pornography Fired

An employee of a Missoula mental health center who told police about a client's computer search for child pornography was fired, in part for making the report, according to court records.

The client, John Gribble, has been charged with sexually abusing a child after a DVD with photos of nude children was found at his house, the Missoulian reported Wednesday.

An employee of Three Rivers Mental Health Solutions contacted police about Gribble on Oct. 17 after seeing the words "female child nude" and "preteen nude girls by themselves" in the browser window of Gribble's computer.

The employee first told her supervisors, who told her not to report Gribble because her concerns did not meet the criteria for notifying authorities, according to an affidavit filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks.

Three Rivers administrator Shea Hennelly said reports that break medical confidentiality must include the names and address of the child involved, the names of the child's parents and others responsible and the nature and extent of the child's injuries.

"In order to provide mental health services, we can't engage in dual roles," he said.

Under state law, health care professionals must report to the Department of Public Health and Human Services when they "know or have reasonable cause to suspect, as a result of information they receive in their professional or official capacity, that a child is abused or neglected by anyone ..."

"She didn't witness someone abusing a child," Hennelly. "What this woman reported to this office was she saw the tab of Web browsers that said teenage girls. That's a lot different."

He said there was no way to identify potential victims.

The affidavit said the woman was concerned about the young daughters of two single mothers for whom Gribble babysit. She relayed those concerns to supervisors, "but the employee couldn't tell me any names," Hennelly said. "In the past, this gentleman babysit kids and we were able to identify the mother and were able to carry out our duty to warn."

Hennelly said there were several reasons the woman was fired, and making the report after being told not to was one of them.