Officials: Unregistered sex offender caught masturbating at Columbus library

When Charmette Kendrick was informed by her staff that a man had been caught masturbating in the South Columbus Library, the children's librarian turned to her research skills — and Google.

"We found out he was a registered sex offender in Tennessee, but not in Georgia," Kendrick said. "And he was arrested in November for sexual battery. I don't know how they missed him."

The search for 34-year-old Kirby Lyn Jacobs' history began Aug. 30, when he was spotted allegedly masturbating at a reference computer in the adult section of the 2034 South Lumpkin Road branch. Immediately after a woman reported him, at about 4:30 p.m., a security officer and employee made their way to the stacks, where they verified Jacobs' behavior, they said.

The two superiors for library employees were absent that day; Kendrick was out sick, and the other manager was on vacation. Lacking direction on library policy regarding similar offenses, employees in charge asked Jacobs to leave. They reported the incident to Kendrick as soon as possible.

"In hindsight, I wish they had called the police," she said. "If I had been there, I would have told them to call the police right away. I emailed the director and the deputy director, and they confirmed that I should report it."

So, Kendrick started digging.

"Basically he's a semi-regular patron. We knew him. We didn't know his name, but we knew his family members," Kendrick said. "We looked up his patron information and figured out his information. Normally, when police want information like that we ask for a subpoena, but I just went ahead and gave the information."

Muscogee County Sheriff's Office Major Randy Robertson said the department started looking for Jacobs' past violations after Kendrick informed deputies that he was registered as a sex offender in Knoxville, Tenn. He was charged twice with sexual battery on May 22, 2000, according to his sex offender registry webpage.

"When he left Tennessee and came to Georgia, Tennessee didn't remove them from their registry. They still showed him as incarcerated," Robertson said. "That's why he didn't show up for us."

Still, the error on Tennessee's part didn't change Jacobs' responsibility, Robertson said.

"He knows he's supposed to register any time he moves, so that's why we charged him with (failure to register as a state sex offender)."

Jacobs was booked into the Muscogee County Jail Thursday, after Kendrick filed a report with the Sheriff's Office Wednesday. By Friday morning, Chattahoochee Valley Libraries Director Alan Harkness had moved forward with the system's intent to prosecute.

"We're very glad that they've decided to prosecute," Robertson said. "A lot of different citizens go to the libraries and they need to know that they can go there without being offended or feeling assaulted by this sort of behavior."

Jacobs case will be heard in Municipal Court at 9 a.m. Monday.

On Nov. 14, 2012, Jacobs was arrested for sexual battery after he allegedly groped a woman's buttocks twice in the Walmart at 2801 Airport Thruway. It was caught on the store's surveillance camera.

When asked by the Ledger-Enquirer Friday morning, Harkness said it was unfortunate Jacobs was not arrested immediately, but he was glad the Sheriff's Office was able to apprehend him.

"We're a public library and a public place. As much as we try to make it an inviting environment, bad people are going to do bad things," Harkness said. "And people who like to misbehave tend to pick inopportune times."

The inopportune timing is one reason Kendrick was thankful present staff were able to remove Jacobs from the library. However, she said the presence of a previously unregistered sex offender in the community worries her.

"There's kids all over this library, so that's why we wanted to get him out of here as soon as possible," Kendrick said. "It's just concerning that he was able to go unnoticed for that long."

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