Sexual Assault Case at Pennsylvania Camp Highlights Importance of Alias Checks

By Michael Klazema on 1/22/2019

Sometimes, predators and other dangerous job candidates hide behind false names.

Such was the case recently at a Pennsylvania youth camp. Per a report from Penn Live, Joseph T. Rohrer was recently arraigned on charges of sexually assaulting a young boy who he met at the Hope’s Haven Rescue and Youth Camp. The camp and nonprofit organization, which is based in Bainbridge, Pennsylvania, serves to mentor at-risk children and rescue horses. By teaching kids to care for horses, the camp seeks to achieve rehabilitation and restoration of hope for children and horses alike. Often, both the children and the horses have previously been abused, neglected, or subjected to other forms of physical or emotional trauma.

Rohrer previously worked at Hope’s Haven on a volunteer basis. Camp representatives say that he mostly kept to himself and did not interact with other people at the camp, children or adults. Rohrer’s role mostly involved caring for the horses, some of which he fostered at an “offsite location.” He visited the camp occasionally for open-house events or to perform basic maintenance and cleaning. However, the camp says he was never left alone with children. In fact, Hopes Haven has a policy in place to ensure that three adults are with children at all times. This policy helps prevent a situation in which an adult and a child are alone together.

The camp spokesperson could not pinpoint how long Rohrer had been volunteering at Hope’s Haven. Evidently, at some point, he started a personal relationship with another camp volunteer—a volunteer related to Rohrer’s eventual victim. Around Thanksgiving, the boy was at Rohrer’s house and Rohrer sexually assaulted him. Rohrer has admitted to police that he touched the boy inappropriately.

Hope’s Haven does conduct background checks on its volunteers and did run a background check on Rohrer. However, Rohrer used a false name when he first began volunteering for the camp. The camp did not use an alias check to verify his name, and the fake name returned no criminal record findings.

Camp officials became suspicious of Rohrer and decided to re-screen him. This time, the camp dug a little bit deeper and discovered that Rohrer had been using an alias. When the camp ran a check using Rohrer’s true name, the check returned red flags. Rohrer is a registered sex offender, dating back to 2013 convictions for child pornography possession and child sexual abuse. The Penn Live article did not go into detail about the circumstances behind Rohrer’s 2013 convictions.

This case highlights the importance of including an alias check in pre-employment or pre-volunteer background checks. When Hope’s Haven relied on a name-based check alone, Rohrer was able to hide behind a fake name. When camp officials used a more in-depth check, they discovered red flags that would have disqualified Rohrer from working for any youth-focused organization.

At, we incorporate Social Security Number checks into all our criminal history searches. This factor enables us to be more thorough with our criminal background checks.


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