Oh, the rationalizations of moral cowards!
DEAR ABBY: I have a good friend who owns a prosperous business. I’ll call him “Oscar.” Oscar has no clue that one of his employees, “Shirley,” is stealing big chunks of money from him.
I feel bad for the friend who is being taken, and also for the person doing the stealing. I know them both well, and if I were to tell him, Oscar would lose both a friend and an employee. Shirley has worked for him for more than a dozen years. Her son and her brother now work for him, too. If I blow the whistle, Shirley could lose her home and other investments.
This could get very ugly, and I don’t want to be in the middle. Please tell me what to do. — IN THE MIDDLE IN PHOENIX
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: You were put in the middle the minute you learned about the thefts. You must tell the employer what is going on. To do otherwise makes you an accessory to the crime.
It will then be up to Oscar to decide if he wants to press charges. And please remember that the friendship between Oscar and Shirley ended when she started stealing from him. Friends don’t steal from their friends. Opportunists do.
I’m not sure that the woman is legally an accessory to the crime; I suppose that depends upon whether she has a duty to her employer about such thefts. She certainly has a moral obligation to do so, whatever the law says. Oh, and I’m delighted that Abby added the last bit about the already-dead friendship, since that was extra-offensive!