GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - A man claims a Gaston County social worker offered to clear his case if he agreed to go on a date with her.
David Cole said he started recording their conversation because he was worried he would lose his children if he didn't play along.
“We can still talk or whatever, and then I'm going to try to work on closing your case out,” a voice on the recording said.
Officials said the social worker is no longer on the case after the recordings revealed conversations that had nothing to do with child welfare.
The recordings indicated Cole's children were not in danger, but he felt he was. Cole said he played the recording for social service investigators.
In the recording, you hear very blunt language from the woman who Cole said was sent to protect his two young children.
Cole said the proposition started soon after the social worker came to his home in Cramerton. He said she watched him carefully and then made a stunning request.
"'If I close your case out, would you be willing to date me?'" Cole said the social worker asked him.
Cole said he had a girlfriend, but he immediately began to worry that if he didn't agree on the date, someone might take his 3- and 4-year-old children.
"Have this relationship with her or lose my kids,” Cole said. “It's hard to deal with. I lost a lot of sleep behind that."
Cole said he grabbed a digital recorder and explained his next steps.
"It’s very inappropriate, you know,” Cole said. “I’m scared for my life, scared for my children’s welfare, my welfare."
Cole said police told him the social worker didn't commit a crime. At times, he said she told him his children were not at risk, but he didn't trust her.
Meanwhile, he said the interactions went from phone conversations to her requesting to meet him.
"I'm sexually active, but I'm not sexually active,” the social worker said in the recording.
Cole said a court official convinced him to go to a top supervisor at DSS.
"You got somebody in the position she is in to help you or tear you apart,” Cole said.
The social worker’s last day on the job came not long after investigators heard Cole's recordings.
The head of Human Services sent a written statement to Channel 9, saying, "We take it very seriously anytime there are allegations of misconduct involving our staff. If wrongdoing is substantiated, we take a zero-tolerance approach."
Channel 9 attempted to contact the social worker by phone, but she didn’t respond.
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