On Friday a Utah Judge ruled that sex offender Lonnie Johnson was not competent to stand trial for 21 counts of rape, sodomy and aggravated sexual assault of a child. Johnson had been treated unsuccessfully at a hospital for the past two years. To be committed to the hospital, Utah law requires that the person be a danger to others or to himself. The courts ruled he was not a danger to himself or others. I can tell you that based on my more than 20 years of experience as a violent crime detective and consultant on issues of violence against women and children, this predator is on the hunt for children as I write. He is an arrogant sociopath with no regard for victims or a free society. Yes, he will probably toe the line for a few days or weeks as the media stalks him but once they leave he will be free to prowl.
I can tell you from experience and research that Johnson has a strong desire to attack again. Why? Because he has been locked up for more than 2 years with no access to children.
So we should take notice of this crisis and understand that it is not an isolated case in Utah. This is a ruling that happens throughout the U.S. on a weekly basis. There are many Lonnie Johnsons in our communities, having served a token sentence or been set free on technicalities.
We accept that we cannot fix the crippled criminal justice system. What we must do is make sure we are doing everything we can to keep the Lonnie Johnsons of the world out of our organizations and away from our children.
So how does this case impact a criminal background check? It first illustrates the sophisticated enemy that is knocking at our doors, trying to gain a foothold in our organizations. You need to understand that those who harm kids always seek access to them.
A comprehensive criminal background check will reveal the charges against a Lonnie Johnson. If you are an organization that relies upon a cheap background check of $9-$15 then this enemy will defeat you. They will easily bypass your nominal background screening process and gain access to your children, destroying lives and potentially your organization.
Is it worth the savings of a few bucks to take this risk? No way. I could not imagine having to tell the parents of a child who was harmed that this could have been prevented if we had spent a few extra dollars.
A quality criminal background check that includes the use of a national criminal database, national sex offender registry and county criminal searches is the first step. However, research shows that many sex offenders have not been arrested so a quality reference checking program is essential. Reference checks can reveal red flags in behaviors and inappropriate relationships.
The sad reality is this enemy is highly motivated and focused on gaining access to our kids and most organizations serving our youth are not doing enough to keep them out.
Contact Safe Hiring Solutions today to implement a comprehensive volunteer screening program and a FREE evaluation of your reference checking process.
Stay tuned as we launch iRefCheck in the coming months to automate and deepen your reference checking process.
Would your current volunteer screening program keep Lonnie Johnson out?