Until last month, the Immanuel Christian Children’s Center, a childcare facility based in Grand Forks, North Dakota, had always held a spotless reputation. Like other daycare centers in the state, the Immanuel Christian Children’s Center had always made sure to run proper background checks on its employers prior to permitting them to share contact with children. Also like many other North Dakota daycare businesses, the Children’s Center had never suffered any sort of controversy regarding its services. All told, the daycare center was crystal clean, with no accusations of physical or sexual abuse against any of its workers and no sign that its background check policy would ever allow a sex offender or a dangerous criminal to slip through the cracks.
That all changed in December, when one of the employees of the Immanuel Christian Children’s Center was charged for sexually assaulting four children at the daycare center. According to the charges, this 31-year-old male from Manvel, North Dakota – sexually assaulted four young girls on a regular basis during his time at Immanuel.
He was initially hired in early 2009. Charges indicate that the sexual assaults began in the December of that year, when the girls in question were three or four years old, and continued until December 2013 when one of the victims revealed what was happening to her parents. A police affidavit states that the man admitted to the sexual assaults – which took place during the care center’s “nap time” hour – and stated that he had “taken measures” to make sure that his criminal activity was not discovered by surveillance cameras or fellow Immanuel employees.
Currently, the man is on house arrest and is awaiting a March arraignment for his crimes. His charges, four counts of “gross sexual imposition of a child under 15,” could earn him a sentence of up to 80 years in prison, should he face a maximum sentence.
Following his arrest, Immanuel Christian Children’s Center retained the legal services of a Bismarck attorney, worrying that it may face liability lawsuits from parents or loss of childcare certification for the long-lasting nature of the sexual assaults. However, the attorney – a “civil trial specialist” named Jerry Evenson, believes the Immanuel had done everything in its power to keep incidents like this from occurring.
The childcare center, in accordance with state law, runs background checks on every one of its employees at hire, including state criminal checks, sex offender registry checks, and child abuse histories. State law also dictates that any daycare worker who has lived outside of North Dakota within the 10 years prior to their employment must submit to an additional FBI fingerprint check. On top of all of this, Immanuel runs repeat background checks on its employees annually. All of these checks were run on him, and his record – prior to this job – was entirely clean. In other words, the childcare center probably won’t need to worry about a negligent hiring lawsuit, but that hardly makes this scenario any less severe or any easier to deal with.