A Pinellas child protective investigator was given a five-day suspension Thursday after an internal sheriff's investigation found he posted confidential information about a case on the social media website Reddit.
While off-duty, Taylor Pittman, 25, responded in May 2017 to a discussion thread titled "CPS workers of Reddit, what was the worst case you have seen?"
Pittman didn't post the identities of any people or agencies involved in the case, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office investigation, but he included details such as a child's age, how much money a family got from a lawsuit and information about an injury that led to the lawsuit.
It was enough detail for a paralegal at a law office involved in the case to recognize the firm's client, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Friday. A lawyer called the agency to find out what was going on, sparking the internal inquiry in June.
The agency is one of six sheriffs' offices in the state that contracts with the Florida Department of Children and Families to investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect. Florida has strict confidentiality laws barring public access to child welfare records, with few exceptions. Disclosing information in child abuse or neglect cases is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Gualtieri said he will not refer Pittman's case to prosecutors because he doesn't believe the employee of two years had criminal intent.
"He was just being stupid and not understanding the impact of confidentiality," Gualtieri said. "He's new. He's young. He understands a five-day suspension is pretty significant."
Pittman could not be reached for comment Friday. According to the internal investigation, he said he learned about the case during a training session from one of the instructors. He acknowledged his lapses in judgment and said he knows "highly sensitive information ... should not be thrown out on social media," according to the investigation.
He has since deleted the Reddit account he used to post the information. The sheriff said his agency is required to report the incident to DCF to decide whether to take action against Pittman's certification.
Contact Kathryn Varn at email@example.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.