Officials with the Ohio Department of Health say that the rape of a 17-year-old girl in Delaware County would have been prevented had proper background check protocol been carried out. The young girl in question was sexually assaulted by a home health aide working with her family. The aide in question, a 31-year-old male, had been hired to help the family care for the girl's older brother. Allegedly, the suspect touched the girl inappropriately with his hands and mouth.
The health aide doesn't have a criminal record in Ohio, but he was convicted of assaulting another woman in North Carolina four years ago. Such a charge would likely have disqualified the man from candidacy for any home healthcare position. However, the charge was mistakenly overlooked, and from the looks of it, it was missed because someone failed to run the proper background checks.
Indeed, a Health Department spokeswoman said that the state of Ohio requires background checks for home health workers to look through records from the past five years. By default, these criminal screenings start with checks of records just in the state of Ohio. If the health worker in question has been employed in Ohio for five or more years, then their prospective employers can stop after the state check. However, if the worker moved to Ohio in the last five years, then their employer needs to go one step further and obtain background checks from other states in which that worker has lived.
In this case, the health worker had only been working in Ohio for four years, which means that background checks should have been run in other states. Had this protocol been properly observed, the man's assault conviction (and the 55 days he spent in jail as a sentence for that crime) would have been discovered. Evidently, though, only state checks were run, so employers didn't know about the man's criminal record. As a result, he was allowed to get a job as a home health worker, and by connection, harm a young and defenseless victim in her home.
The worker was arrested, indicted on two counts of rape, and jailed under a $100,000 bond. He will likely face prison time for his crime. More questionable, however, is what will happen to the man's employer, Atlas Home Health Care. The company has so far declined to comment about the incident, but it's fairly clear that they failed to follow state policies regarding employee background checks. Some sort of fine from the state, or even a civil case from the victim, could plague the company in the coming months.
Overall, this case just underlines the need to run thorough background checks in all situations. If you run a company, you obviously need to make sure you are following all local, state, or national background check guidelines. More than that, though, you need to consider the position you are hiring for. In this case, the employer was looking to hire a person who would be going into people's homes without supervision. Such a work environment demands the most thorough criminal and sex offender background checks possible, whether or not they are required by law.
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.