Thomas Nelson, charged in D.C. summer jobs incident, jailed previously

Mayor Vincent Gray and his director of employment services had to answer questions Wednesday about why a man recently out of prison for violent crimes was working at D.C. employment headquarters. There, the man allegedly sexually touched a minor working in the D.C. summer jobs program.

Thomas Nelson has been a file clerk for the past year. He had been in prison for 20 years from 1988 until 2008 for armed robbery and assault on a police officer. In a news conference Wednesday, Lisa Mallory, director of D.C. employment services, said that the the 54-year-old Nelson did not lie on his application for employment.

The application only asks whether a person had been arrested in the previous 10 years. It did not ask whether he’d been incarcerated.

Both Mallory and Gray emphasized Nelson was not a supervisor in the youth program.

This was one of two incidents reported last Friday. The other case involved a 19-year-old female summer worker at Anacostia High School who reported she was inappropriately touched by a construction worker employed by a contractor working on the school. Police so far have not arrested the man in that case.

"When parents allowed their kids to sign up for this program they trusted that their kids were going to be in a safe environment,” a girl said.

Gray called the incident alarming. The city has hired more than 12,000 youth in its summer jobs program. It is now adding cautions about sexual predators to its training, telling young people to come forward if an incident occurs

"Essentially working in adult environments and we're in an urban environment where there is these types of crimes, you have to be cognizant to these things to they can protect themselves,” said Assistant Chief Peter Newsome.