I'm in a bit of an awry situation. I got my first job as a developer at a company in the beginning of february. It all seemed fun at first as it was very fulfilling and I was learning a lot. My boss, however, which happens to be the owner's son, soon started showing signs things weren't quite alright in his personal life.

Over time I began getting more signals about his problematic personality and the things happening in his immediate surroundings. First of all he purchases a lot of items for personal use with company money. I am not talking about a dinner now and then or something justifiable; the other day a package from a sex shop arrived. I happened to intercept that packet and had to sign off for it. I have also seen many instances of him accepting large sums of cash money from clients when they came to visit, but could not see any mention of it in our bookkeeping. I also happen to know of several practices he conducts to launder this money using some of our projects with cryptocurrency.

I am also certain of the fact that he is an alcoholic. I have often seen him chugging cans of beer on company premises early in the morning. Every time I happen to be at his house (he invites me rather often) he will drink a lot. This is a periodic thing and it's starting to have an effect on his health.

All these were things I can live with. They are his decisions and I can't think of a reason for me to get involved in it and risk my job. What I recently discovered, however, is something I can't just ignore: he abuses his children and possibly his wife.

One day, after hours, he asked me to stick together a montage of clips he made for his aging mother. I'm always happy to help out in these situations, so I accepted. I don't think he realized, however, that he accidentally also gave me footage of him getting incredibly angry and physically assaulting one of his 10 year-old boys. Due to the circumstances I was not able to copy the footage. Apart from that he often verbally asaults his wife over the telephone and threatens with physical assault if she does not comply with his demands. I have seen his children and can clearly tell that they are emotionally unstable. They are extremely fearful of strangers and always seem to be absent minded. He even abuses his dog by kicking it. The dog recently dissapeared.

The man really has no ethics. I know of him asking co-workers of mine to get him marijuana and other narcotics and even proposed to some of them to consume it together during work hours. He also has a forged parking pass for persons of reduced mobility because he finds it handy. He uses company resources to buy stolen license plates for his ATV's in his holiday homes so he doesn't need to insure them.

All the other staff are partially aware of this problem, but do not want to speak up or do something about it. Speaking up about it is sure to get you fired or worse.

I really do not know what to do. I can't stand to see all these illegal and downright disturbing things happening at my workplace. I recently announced I was quitting. I decided to go back to school as I was no longer able to stand these practices. His company, however, has a serious sphere of influence in the local sector and could do nasty things if it ever were to become apparent I had gone to the police about this.

What should I do? I want to go to the police with this but I am afraid of the consequences. I do not know what this person is capable of, and he trusts me. 'Breaking' this trust would surely enfuriate him to the degree he would try to make me miserable for a long time.


I have contacted the authorities and they have guaranteed complete discretion in handling this case. I have an appointment tomorrow to explain the entire case. At their bureau.

I have also contacted my parents, who immediately offered to pay for any legal assistance I might require.

closed as off-topic by Telastyn, gnat, Jan Doggen, yochannah, Garrison Neely Nov 11 '14 at 17:47

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  • 4
    I think it is wise to get out of there, either by going back to school or by looking for a new job asap. After that, I would suggest to immediately bring this to attention of the police or social services. Depending on the country I am quite sure you can also do this anonymously if you fear backfiring. What your wrote here is a rather long list of possible criminal offenses, so handling them as such would be the correct way to go imho. – dirkk Nov 11 '14 at 13:31
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    A agree with @dirkk, but scratch the "After that," bit. You are incredibly selfish if you think that your personal job security is more important than the safety and mental health of three innocent people, two of them children (if I got the math right from your question). If something happened to them before you found your "escape," can you live with that? I couldn't. – Wesley Long Nov 11 '14 at 13:42
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    @WesleyLong I think "incredibly selfish" is a little harsh. Domestic abuse issues are hugely complex at the best of times and it's highly likely esper will simply end up with no job and no changes for his bosses family. – Dan Nov 11 '14 at 13:46
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    @WesleyLong That's not what you were doing - you accused someone of being "incredibly selfish" when an action could have dire consequences for them without even having the intended good consequences – Dan Nov 11 '14 at 13:50
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    Sir Edmund Burke once wrote that the only necessary condition for the triumph of evil is that good people stand by and do nothing. It doesn't matter whether these good people are German, New Yorkers, Vietnamese or anyone else. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 11 '14 at 13:52

Let me preface this by saying that my wife and I just completed the certification classes for being foster parents.

Had I seen what you've seen, and didn't report it to your state's Dept. of Family Services or the police, I could and would be criminally charged for failure to report child abuse. The "Duty to Report" statutes vary from state to state, and I can't offer you legal advice, but this deserves your attention.

Unfortunately, the rest of the list is between him and his family, and you don't have authority over what's permitted at the company.

However, I will tell you this: If you report the child abuse (and by any ethical standard, you should), the subsequent investigation should bring all these other issues to light.

  • Thank you so much. I feel morally obliged to report this but I don't want to make matters worse between him and his family. What if he thinks one of his children or his wife reported him? I can't bear to think of the guilt I would feel if anything were to happen to them as a result of this. – esper Nov 11 '14 at 13:29
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    What do you think is happening NOW? You're hurting all of them by not reporting it. You think this is the FIRST case of a substance-abusing person physically and emotionally abusing their family? This is TEXTBOOK (literally). Those children can get the help they need to recover, now, or they can grow up to be monsters. Think about that. You're not deciding what happens. You're only alerting the authorities and experts so they can do their job. If you could see the horrors that go on in these homes (as we had to watch), you'd have been down at DFS 10 minutes after you saw that footage – Wesley Long Nov 11 '14 at 13:32
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    If you think looking away will improve the situation or will be good for his family, I think your should rethink this. Looking away doesn't solve anything. Anything he does is not your responsibility and hopefully social services/police in your country are smart and competent enough to protect the wife and kids. – dirkk Nov 11 '14 at 13:33

In New York City, those who suspect child abuse are encouraged to report their suspicions to the NYC Department of Children Services, who will follow up on their complaints - and they are allowed to file their complaints anonymously.

The reason for this policy of allowing anonymous reporting is simple: every time a victim of child abuse dies and none of the neighbors reported a damn thing, the news makes Page 1 of our tabloids and we New Yorkers look to the rest of the country like uninvolved, uncaring human trash who'd let a kid die without lifting a finger. And since I am a New Yorker, too, I am swept in the same bag. As a community, we New Yorkers are much more comfortable with Children Services investigating anonymous reports of child abuse that turn out to have no substance than with the idea that a kid died because no one reported anything.

Your local jurisdiction may allow for anonymous reports of child abuse.

From the NYC Administration of Children Services' page: "Report any known or suspected case that you observe. Reporting abuse can protect children from further harm and help a family address its problems. All reports are confidential and may be made anonymously"

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