According to a report in The Quad-City (IA) Times, a registered sex offender dressed in a Cookie Monster costume, handing out fliers to children, and posing for pictures with children at the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, Iowa was arrested on an aggravated misdemeanor charge after an officer of the County Sex Offender Task Force recognized the sex offender’s voice behind the mask. The Quad-City Times reports that the sex offender was convicted for lascivious acts with a minor, a 7-year-old girl, in 2005. Because of this conviction, the sex offender was not allowed to work or volunteer on the fairgrounds.

The Quad-City Times also reports that while background checks were performed on all employees working the carnival rides and companies with booths at the fair must submit lists of employees, the company that hired the sex offender was a private business not associated with the fair and did not submit a list of employees for background checks. The registered sex offender who dressed up as the Cookie Monster – a character from the Sesame Street children’s television show – could face a maximum sentence of two years in prison if found guilty on the charge of sex offender prohibition of certain employment.

The case of the sex offender arrested in a cookie monster costume serves as a reminder of the importance of background checks. Businesses risk being held liable for “negligent hiring” if they hire a worker they know – or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known – is dangerous, unfit, or not qualified for the job. Employers have a legal obligation of duty of care to perform due diligence on potential employees to see if they could represent a risk to others. A good way to do this is to perform background checks before hiring, especially on workers in contact with vulnerable populations such as children or the elderly.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a nationwide background check provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – performs National and Statewide Sexual Offender Searches as well as criminal record searches around the United States. ESR offers a state-by-state guide since each state has different policies and procedures for maintaining sex offender databases. For information about ESR Sex Offender Searches, visit For information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. ESR streamlines the screening process and reduces administrative overhead though its proprietary technology solutions.  ESR is one of a select few firms accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). This important recognition was achieved by successfully passing a third party audit demonstrating compliance with the NAPBS Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about ESR, visit


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