Seattle Work Placement Program Failed to Run Background Check on Man Charged in Rape Case

By Michael Klazema on 3/9/2015

A work placement program in Seattle is in hot water after a man hired through their program was arrested and charged with raping his employer. The victim was a 69-year-old woman, who used the work placement program to hire someone to do a few tasks around her house. The man, it turns out, was a registered sex offender with a history of criminal activity in Canada. Casa Latina, the non-profit work placement organization that facilitated his hiring, had failed to run background checks on him and was unaware of his criminal history.

In fact, Casa Latina has never run background checks on its workers. That's all changing now, of course. The rape accusations in this particular case have inspired the company to do sex offender background checks of all of its workers. Casa Latina is also working on a broader policy that will call for criminal background checks. Still, it's too little, too late for the 69-year-old rape victim harmed by one of Casa Latina's workers. The incident could have been prevented had the organization done its due diligence and made sure that the workers it was placing in people's homes were safe and trustworthy. In fact, the rape victim said that her daughter was able to learn about the suspect's criminal past in 30 seconds just by doing a Google search.

On the one hand, some of the man's criminal history may not have shown up on a background check. His crimes were committed not just out of state, but also outside of the country. Indeed, the man's criminal history all comes from his time living in Canada, including a string of sexual offenses (dating as far back as 1987). He's also been charged with kidnapping, unlawful confinement, and aggravated assault. The latter charge, committed against an 82-year-old woman, earned him nine years in prison.

The suspect came to Seattle in 2013. He unlawfully fled Canada, cutting off a GPS ankle bracelet that was being used for court monitoring purposes. The bracelet was necessitated by the man's criminal record full of violent and sexual offenses, as well as by his history of unpredictable behavior. Canadian authorities opted not to have him extradited, and he was required to register as a Level III sex offender in the Seattle area. The local sex offender status is what Casa Latina could have discovered through a background check, and it almost certainly would have disqualified him from working day jobs through the non-profit.

The Casa Latina worker is being charged with first-degree burglary and second-degree rape. His bail is set at $1 million.


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