In a story first reported by WHP-TV CBS Channel 21 News in South Central Pennsylvania, Jerry Sandusky – the former Penn State University assistant football coach currently charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse in a Grand Jury Presentment (WARNING: Graphic Material) – failed a background check for a volunteer football coaching position at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania in 2010 after he did not disclose that he was under investigation for child abuse at a high school in another county in the state. Continue reading
While the majority of the media coverage in the recent Penn State University sex abuse scandal focused on the firing of legendary PSU football coach Joe Paterno over questions about how much he knew about the alleged sex crime incidents involving his former longtime assistant and once heir apparent Jerry Sandusky, the more compelling story may be how the 67-year-old Sandusky – who faces a 40 count indictment (WARNING: Graphic Material) that includes 21 felonies and 19 misdemeanors that allege he molested boys – may have possibly used the charity that he founded for underprivileged boys to find the victims of his alleged crimes. Continue reading
By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor
According to a report ‘Churches check closer after molestation cases’ from OnlineAthens.com, the website for the Athens Banner Herald, more churches are using background checks to ensure the safety of their most vulnerable members in the wake of several molestation cases involving employees and volunteers.
The report indicates three youth ministers in Northeast Georgia churches were arrested and charged with molesting minors in their congregations in the past four months.
- A 33-year-old male Sunday school teacher was arrested on charges of child molestation after allegedly sending sexually explicit text messages to a 14-year-old boy’s phone.
- A 21-year-old man who claimed to be a youth minister for the church was arrested for child molestation after inviting two teenage boys to a church festival and allegedly molesting one on a nature hike afterwards.
- A 32-year-old man was arrested on charges of child molestation due to his alleged relationship with a 16-year-old girl who attended the same Church with him.
More churches are taking the time to run background checks on employees and volunteers to make sure their members are safe, especially since the majority of people trust church workers since they find it hard to suspect someone holding a position at a religious institution of wrongdoing, according to the report.
While parents should trust in their churches and other community groups, a police Sergeant working in the special victims unit who was quoted in the story said that parents should remain aware of who their children are with and always need to be on guard since child molesters can come from all walks of life and can be married or single.
Churches, like any organization, need to provide due diligence to ensure a safe workplace for everyone. Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a background check provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – offers background screening solutions for Faith-Based and Volunteer organizations by checking available resources such as sex offender registries, county courts, and utilizing an address information manager as a locater for additional criminal records checks.
Services in the ESR ‘Basic Volunteer Safety 1st Package’ include:
- Criminal Search of selected criminal court records, state criminal repositories, probation, prison parole, and release files using the ESR proprietary National Multi-Jurisdictional Criminal Database.
- Sex Offender Search of the state-maintained registries, noting that each originating agency determines what is to be public information at that time and not all states release registries in their entirety.
- Residence Address Search for the previous residence addresses of volunteers and employees.
- Social Security Number (SSN) Search to find if the SSN has been issued and whether other names are associated with the same SSN.
For more information about background screening solutions for volunteer, youth, and faith-based organizations, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/services/Background-Screening-Solutions-Churches-Volunteer-Groups.php.
For a PDF document containing a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Church and Volunteer groups regarding background checks, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/docs/FAQs%20for%20Churches%20&%20Volunteer%20Groups%20%20v01-09.pdf.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . To learn more about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.
By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Editor
A recent news story on Star-Telegram.com, the website of the Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram newspaper, shows the importance of background checks for people who work closely with youths and other “at-risk” groups. While coaches and officials with youth sports groups are entrusted to watch over children and serve as role models, the Star-Telegram discovered with background checks that some officials and coaches in certain youth sports associations and leagues in the area had criminal pasts and were being allowed to work with young people.
- The president of a Youth Association resigned after the Star-Telegram reported that the man operated several strip clubs and that, although never convicted of a crime, he was associated violations including prostitution and incidents with minors.
- One coach led his Girls soccer team to a silver medal in a tournament only two months after being arrested by police on a warrant alleging aggravated sexual assault of a child.
- Another Girls soccer coach was arrested by police on three charges of fraudulent possession of a controlled substance and also faces a charge of possession of child pornography related to material police found in his car during his arrest.
- Another man coached a Pee Wee football team even though he was once sentenced to four years in prison after his probation was revoked because he failed drug tests.
The executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) told the Star-Telegram that youth sports organizations are taking great risks if they don’t ensure that background checks are up to date and those who work with children have a huge responsibility to make certain that everyone involved is “tiptop.” Though many youth clubs stated they conducted criminal background checks on coaches and volunteers, experts say some background checks may not be thorough enough to identify potential concerns in some instances. While background checks are useful, running only local or statewide checks may not be adequate, experts say, and even a coach’s or official’s clean record should not give parents a false sense of security.
To help protect children from predators, the National Council of Youth Sports co-founded a national screening service – the National Center for Safety Initiatives – after discovering that some companies being used by youth sports organizations were sometimes providing incomplete or outdated information on applicants. The council created guidelines to be used as minimum standards when deciding who can coach or volunteer with children. The group recommends that youth associations reject those applicants with:
- Convictions for any felony or any lesser crime involving something of a sexual nature, including pornography;
- Force or threat of force against a person;
- Animal cruelty; or
- Controlled substances.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) agrees with the NCYS and suggests thorough background checks for all people who work with youths and other “at-risk” groups to ensure the safety of everyone. Every coach, every assistant coach, every manager – anybody that comes in contact with children – should go through a criminal background check.
For more information from ESR on background checks for volunteer, youth, and faith-based organizations, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/services/Background-Screening-Solutions-Churches-Volunteer-Groups.php.
Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.
by Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Staff Writer
A letter to Austin (MN) Daily Herald sheds light on a national problem of lack of background checks for child care providers, so claims the author.
In her letter, Linda K. Smith, Executive Director, National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, was “deeply troubled” after reading that a Plymouth, Minnesota man who was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography had worked and volunteered in a number of child care facilities in Minnesota. She was concerned that an individual charged with a horrible crime had numerous opportunities to be in contact with small children.
Smith wrote that since the state of Minnesota does not require child care providers to undergo a comprehensive background check, including fingerprints, no one knows if the accused individual has a criminal past, and no one can know the full criminal history of the providers currently caring for Minnesota’s children.
Smith also added that while many parents assume child care providers in licensed care have had a background check, “the reality is that only half of states require a fingerprint check and only 16 require a check of the sex offender registry.”
Smith believes “the best way to ensure children are safe and protected from predators and felons in child care is to require comprehensive background checks of child care providers. A comprehensive background check means a check of federal and state fingerprints, as well as checks of the child abuse and sex offender registries.”
She urges the state ensure the safety and well-being of Minnesota’s children in child care by enacting legislation that will require comprehensive background checks of child care providers.
Minnesota is not alone in dealing with problems concerning background checks of child care providers. Recently, the Governor of Florida signed a new law strengthening background checks for caregivers. Starting August 1, the law will require workers who care for children, the elderly, and the disabled in the state of Florida to undergo stricter background checks.
The law follows a 2009 series by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that exposed gaps in Florida’s background check system. A six-month investigation by the newspaper found convicted felons with records for rape, child abuse, and murder had been hired as employees of day care centers, assisted living facilities, and home health care agencies.
A news article mentioned that a hospital volunteer was publically stating that he Â would no longer be volunteering because he was offended by the healthcare organization Â requiring a background check on volunteers.Â
ESR believes that volunteering is about giving to others. When a medical organization request a background check, it is just a sign of the times, and sometimes mandated by federal law.Â Someone who says they will not volunteer due to a background check either has something to hide, or is so self-focused that they do not see the bigger picture, but only see their own needs.Â It is certainly understandable that someone that has been volunteering for a long time would initially be skeptical about a background check. Â However, if it helps the organization comply with federal law and install confidence in the community, then a real volunteer should have the wisdom, insight and understanding to do what is needed for the greater good.Â This volunteer may know in his or her Â heart that a background check is not needed for them, but how can the volunteer be so certain that the vulnerable population being served, including the young and the infirmed, is safe from other volunteers that may not share the same Â high moral character.Â Who is the volunteer to decide that all volunteers are safe?Â As long as the background check protects and preserves privacy, and is done fairly and uniformly, then a volunteer that refuses to do a background check requirement may not be the type of person the organization needs anyway.Â A real volunteer understands helping people is what is important, and making a public dispute because their feelings are hurt is really hurting the people he is supposedly concerned about.Â Â This volunteer needs to get over it, and perhaps not think its all about him.Â