Fired accountant denies accusations he looked at pornography, admits inappropriate internet use

DENVER - Fired for looking at inappropriate content on work computers, a former accountant for Denver's Public Works Department acknowledged his internet use was inappropriate but denied doing anything illegal.

Documents obtained during a joint investigation by the CALL7 Investigators and The Denver Post exposed that Steve Zelarney was accused by a co-worker of viewing pornography at work. Zelarney was a senior accountant at Denver's Department of Public Works for more than 20 years.

“I became pretty discontent with the whole organization,” Zelarney admitted in an interview with CALL7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta. “Was I in the wrong? Yes, I was in the wrong. Was it criminal? No, it wasn’t criminal.”

The city refused to let CALL7 see Zelarney's internet history, but a source did supply a copy of his dismissal letter. It shows that the department "curtailed" his internet usage "in approximately September of 2012."

The letter documents a fellow employee's complaints that he or she was "disgusted" by what was on Zelarney's computer a month before he was fired. There were documented allegations that Zelarney viewed "Asian gang rape pornography, lesbian pornography and most recently pornography involving pre-pubescent girls."

Despite the allegations, neither the CALL7 investigators nor The Denver Post could find any evidence that anyone at Public Works reported the accusations to the police.

"The city has an elaborate filter system," Zelarney told Marchetta. "I didn't think I was looking at anything that would qualify as, like porn, rather than looking at something that was inappropriate at work."

Zelarney acknowledged that that his internet use at work was inappropriate, but denies doing anything criminal. He told Marchetta he was never interviewed by police.

The termination letter lists the content Zelarney viewed on March 15, 2013. The list does not explicitly include the word pornography, but it does say the content "corresponded directly" to the timing of the co-worker's allegations.

The list is:

"Stories of rape viewed 14 times

"Prisoner rape, survivor stories viewed 20 times

"Teenage rape viewed 22 times

"Pictures of twelve year old girls viewed 6 times

"Teenage rape stories viewed 16 times, and

"Spring breakers Premier, Photo Gallery - Yahoo! Movies viewed 9 times"

Denver Public Works refused to do an interview with Marchetta citing legal liability in Zelarney's termination. However in a written statement, they stated Zelarney violated its policies and was terminated. They did not explain why they allowed his violations to go without punishment for over a year, and did not explain why they failed to turn over allegations of viewing child porn to police.

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