WASHINGTON, April 7 (UPI) -- The Homeland Security Department official arrested on child sex charges made "a full confession" to investigators, the man in charge of the sting operation that caught him told United Press International
Polk County, Fla., Sheriff Grady Judd said in a telephone interview that following his arrest Tuesday, and while in custody in Maryland, Homeland Security Deputy Press Spokesman Brian Doyle "confessed and acknowledged -- although it was off-tape -- that he did like young girls."
Doyle has not entered a plea, but his arrest has raised questions about hiring and security procedures at the troubled Department of Homeland Security, and lawmakers have launched an inquiry into whether the case reveals flaws in the background check process for its employees.
And following the revelation that Doyle had been disciplined in a previous job for downloading pornography, one former department official said the case seemed to be an illustration of the growing reticence of companies, fearful of litigation from former employees, in dealing with federal investigators conducting background checks.
Judd said Doyle made admissions both off-tape and later, during a formal tape-recorded interview. "He was a lot less forthcoming once the tape-recorder was switched on."
Nonetheless, Judd said, "It was a full confession" and would be admissible in court.
Doyle's lawyer, Barry Helfand, told UPI he could not comment because "I haven't seen even the first piece of discovery yet."
"I understand he did make some kind of a statement, but I have no information more than that right now," he added.
Doyle was arrested Tuesday evening at his home in Silver Spring, Md., while investigators say he was chatting online with an undercover detective pretending to be a 14-year-old girl recovering from leukemia.
He faces 23 felony charges -- seven counts of using a computer to seduce a child, and 16 counts of transmission of harmful material to a minor -- after he initiated graphic sexual conversations online with the detective and sent her clips of pornographic movies.
Judd also told UPI that an anonymous caller to the Sheriff's Department said that Doyle had been disciplined while an employee of Time Magazine for "viewing pornographic material at work."
"The caller seemed upset that he just got (what the caller saw as) a 'slap on the wrist,'" said Judd.
The Washington Post Friday cited interviews with unidentified former colleagues of Doyle's from the magazine confirming that he had been disciplined for downloading pornography on a company computer.
Ty Trippet, a spokesman for Time, said he would not comment on personnel matters, beyond confirming that Doyle worked at the magazine from 1975 to 2001, prior to going to work for the government. He was not able to provide any information about the company's policies on pornographic material or misuse of company equipment.
The revelation of Doyle's disciplinary infraction at Time brought a chorus of questions about the background checks that the government runs on those who are issued a security clearance to see classified information, as Doyle was.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement Friday, "If there was an incident at Time magazine, Homeland Security above all should have found it."
He added the department was the United States' "last line of defense, and to be taken seriously, you have to have very, very strict security standards."
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff Thursday evening denied that the case revealed weaknesses in the security procedures at his department.
"I don't know that there's anybody who believes that background checks for people who are hired can predict future behavior," he said.
He said there was no suggestion "that any security material, classified material was compromised in any way, shape or form."
"In general, in any large organization, from time-to-time, you will have instances where misconduct occurs," Chertoff told reporters at a briefing, according to a recording.
He was not asked about the pornography incident, and federal officials were keeping mum about whether the background check had discovered it.
Jack Johnson, the department's former head of security, told UPI he would not discuss or make judgments about the Doyle case, but said in general that federal investigators faced an increasing problem getting cooperation from court-shy companies.
"In this increasingly litigious society," Johnson said, "more and more employers are refusing to provide information beyond the bare minimum -- dates and position -- even (if) someone was fired for cause."
"Unless (an incident) rises to the level of criminal misconduct, we are unlikely to be told about it," Johnson added, "unless co-workers who are aware of the incident disclose it."
Johnson and other former and serving officials said questions in the interviews with co-workers, friends and others conducted as part of the background investigation tended to be open-ended.
"You're asking probing questions," said Johnson, "the answers to which you hope will elicit information about any illegal, unethical or immoral activity."
And even if investigators had learned of the incident, such an infraction would not automatically disbar someone from a security clearance, Johnson said, adding there was an adjudication process for each case.
"If an individual was viewing a Web site that was prohibited by his employer but not illegal and was disciplined or terminated for that, that would be a factor (in the adjudication), but not an automatic bar to a clearance."