Background Checks, sexual misconduct

News Roundup: Arrests Across the Nation for Child Pornography

Among the most heinous types of crimes to investigate and prosecute, child pornography cases and incidents involving the exploitation of minors are stomach-turning examples of the need to be vigilant against potential bad actors. While no one can accurately predict an individual’s future behavior 100% of the time, putting up guardrails based on reviewing someone’s past can be one element of essential harm reduction efforts. A review of news stories from around the United States highlights the role that background checks can and cannot play in ongoing efforts to build safer spaces for children. 

Volunteer Commissioner in Maryland Under Fire for Past Convictions

In one Maryland community, controversy has engulfed the city administration and the all-volunteer commission for the preservation of the area’s local history. A citizen activist revealed that the mayor of Cumberland had appointed to the Historical Preservation Commission a man previously convicted of possession of child pornography in 2013. Although the commission does not deal with children in its activities today, the activist believed that the presence of a sex offender in a government body was unacceptable. 

Although the commissioner has been public about his conviction in the past, the issue revealed a bigger problem: the city does not require background checks for volunteer appointees. No check was run on the commissioner before his appointment, though he claimed to have disclosed his conviction on a prior, unrelated job application. Cumberland’s mayor pledged to implement background check processes to close the loophole.

Texas Museum Worker Faced Federal Charges

In Brownsville, parents and employees alike were horrified to learn that a local Children’s Museum employee faced criminal charges for both possessing and sharing child pornography. In terminating the man’s employment, the museum emphasized that no one there had been harmed during the man’s tenure and that the offender had undergone a background check before hiring. The museum also stated that they implement rigorous training programs and monitor site surveillance to identify any potential problems. 

North Carolina Science Teacher Arrested for Dozens of Crimes

A 29-year-old man in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was also jailed to face more than 50 charges related to child sex crimes, including first-degree exploitation of a minor. As in the Texas case, the school district conducted in-depth criminal screening procedures before hiring the man. Unfortunately, after passing through the hiring process, he began to communicate illicitly with minors using social media apps, ultimately leading to the charges. Both the Texas and North Carolina cases illustrate that even the best background check possible can’t be a predictor of behavior, and more extensive safeguards are a must-have to complement screening.

Building Safeguards into Organizations

Preventing sexual misconduct and background checks go hand in hand, even with some of their limitations. While they cannot tell an organization if an individual may be at risk of becoming an offender in the future, they do provide a critical first line of intelligence in hiring processes and human resources management. Ongoing criminal monitoring has a vital role to play in alerting organizations to potential red flags, too. Combined with institutional oversight and active supervision of those working with children, these efforts could lead to positive outcomes, fewer crimes, and a safer general environment for young people.

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.

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