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Convicted sex offender fired from Navarre Pier

A registered sex offender working at the Navarre Pier was abruptly fired last week.

Walter McLaughlin was terminated after his status as a sex offender was brought to the attention of authorities.
In Santa Rosa, sex offenders are banned from county parks and the county administrator says that includes the pier.

Channel Three's Joe Douglass is at the pier with the latest on the firing.

Good evening, the Navarre Press says 55-year-old, Walter McLaughlin, had been working here.
They say they notified the pier's manager and county authorities that McLaughlin is a sex offender and that he was then fired.

Ardys Fleetwood, Mother: "I think they should do a better background check before they hire people."

Parents we spoke with near the pier were disturbed by the report.

Robert North, Father: "Out here I wouldn't want him working out here."

County authorities say McLaughlin was terminated less than an hour after they saw the report last Friday.

The pier is owned by the county but is run by Pier, Incorporated, a company operated by Dorothy Slye.
Slye told the paper she knew McLaughlin was a sex offender and that she only had him out here when it was appropriate.
Santa Rosa County has an ordinance barring registered sex offenders from county parks.

Ardys Fleetwood, Mother: "As parents, you better make sure you know what your kids are doing and also make sure that nobody is around them that's gonna hurt 'em, but what can you do?"

Robert North, Father:  "This areaIt really makes me uncomfortable, Knowing that, you know'Cause we usually go down here to the volleyball courts or so That's right next to the pier."

McLaughlin was convicted seven years ago of lewd or lascivious conduct with a minor under 16 years old.
His address is currently listed on the 33 hundred block of Highway 87 in Santa Rosa County.

Slye, the pier operator, would not comment on how McLaughlin wound up getting a job here.
She took my number and told me her attorney would call me, and so far I have not received a call.