NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that accused FedEx Kinko’s of hiring a sex offender who later molested an 8-year-old boy in his home, ruling the company was not responsible for the employee’s behavior outside of work.

Paul Sykes was hired in 2004 at the FedEx Kinko’s print shop in Fairfield and later fired. He was sentenced last year to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to risk of injury to a minor, fourth-degree sexual assault and possession of child pornography in the case of the 8-year-old and another boy.

Sykes solicited customers at the print shop for a computer repair business he ran called “Facts and Fantasy,” according to the lawsuit. He molested the 8-year-old boy during a visit to his home to repair a computer, according to court papers.

“There is no evidence that defendants should have known that it could have controlled Sykes’ behavior off-site or that it should have recognized the necessity of doing so,” U.S. District Judge Warren Eginton in Bridgeport wrote in the ruling.

The boy’s attorney, Neal Rogan, filed an appeal last week.

“I think it’s a horrifying decision,” Rogan said Friday, “because it basically says that no matter what a prospective employee tells you – including the fact that he’s a convicted rapist – basically that rapist can come in and do anything he wants – including sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy – and the employer has absolutely no responsibility, and I find that to be appalling and wrong.”

A telephone message was left Friday for FedEx officials.

In his job application, Sykes wrote that he was convicted in 1989 of the “equivalent to statutory rape.” A criminal background check of the prior seven years failed to turn up what turned out to be a 1989 conviction for sexual contact with boys in Maine, according to court papers.

The judge wrote, “Despite the fact that Sykes had informed FedEx Kinko’s that he had a prior conviction for conduct equivalent to statutory rape, defendants could not foresee that hiring Sykes as a production manager, a position that does not entail intimate contact with members of the public or vulnerable individuals, would gain access to a family’s home and the opportunity to sexually abuse a child.”

Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp., the parent company of FedEx Kinko’s, said in 2005 that it was “absolutely horrified” when the molestation allegations arose. But Rogan has said the check should have been unnecessary because the company had a policy of not hiring felons.

The lawsuit contended the company knew or should have known that Sykes was using its business to solicit customers for his own business.

But FedEx, which bought the copy chain Kinko’s in 2004, said in court papers that the boy’s parents met Sykes through a family friend, not because of a visit to the print shop. They said Connecticut law has long held that business operators are not liable for injuries that occur off their premises.

Rogan argued that Sykes gave his business card to one of the boy’s parents at the FedEx Kinko’s and would not have had contact with the family if Sykes had not been hired at the print shop.

Rogan said the case raises concerns about how companies conduct criminal background checks.

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