SEATTLE — Ferry passengers were shocked to learn Friday that a Washington State Ferries employee accused of taking photos of little girls while at work July 3 is a registered sex offender.
“I feel like the ferry should be a safe place, where families can walk around,” said Sean McVeigh, a regular passenger on the West Seattle ferry. “Hearing that a person was taking pictures of kids, that is disturbing.
“Don’t they do background checks for the Washington State Ferries?” he asked.
King County sheriff’s deputies say a ferry passenger contacted them on July 3 and said they had noticed a ferry employee, later identified as Steven Dailey, taking pictures of children during the crossing. They confronted Dailey when the ferry docked and confiscated his phone. They have not said what they found.
It was learned that Dailey is a registered sex offender. He was convicted in federal court of possession of child pornography and sentenced in 2010 to 30 days in jail and 10 years of supervised release, or probation.
He appeared in U.S. District Court Friday, where the judge was asked to find Dailey in violation of his probation. The judge remanded him to federal custody until a July 22 hearing to determine if he broke the terms of his probation. If found to have violated it, his probation could be revoked and he might be sent to federal prison.
That would be separate from any possible King County charge that he might face from the July 3 incident.
“He was already a registered sex offender. How do you get a job with the state on the list?” asked Derrick Stutler, another passenger.
A spokesperson for Washington State Ferries did not respond to questions about how long Dailey had worked for them or if he had been subject to a background check. All she would say is that Dailey is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an external investigation.
“I hope they put him away for a long time,” added Stutler. “Innocent children are getting their rights violated by someone they don’t even know.”
Parents want answers. But in the meantime, they say they’ll be more cautious on board.
“I always let my son run around,” said mother Yuliya Cherturko. “I would follow him before, but now I feel very nervous letting him out, and even going there by myself without my husband.”