sex offender

Trick or Treat Sex Offender Background Checks

sex offender background checksThere is really nothing more exciting than helping our 5 kids carve pumpkins.  Did I mention they range in age from 3-12? Last night was the night.  A nice dinner and then I spread the newspapers all over the bar, situated the 5 pumpkins so each of the kids had plenty of elbow room and then strategically positioned my wife, my dad and myself so we could closely supervise and monitor.

Did I mention I have 3 boys?  You could see them salivating to get their hands on a knife.  Those poor pumpkins had no idea what fate awaited them.

As the knives were slicing (pumpkins, not sisters) and seeds were flying, I was thinking about Halloween.  Remember when I said my brain rarely slows down?

I was thinking about growing up in a small town and running free on Halloween, filling a pillowcase with candy until it weighed a ton.  No real concerns. And last night I was thinking that times have changed so much (or is it I have changed so much?).

One thing I know today, that I did not as a kid, is that Halloween is a holiday on every sex offender’s calendar.  Think about it.  It is dark, kids coming to your house, dressing up.   Yikes.

Progressive communities recognize this and require registered sex offenders to attend a meeting with their probation officers on Halloween.  The goal is simple, get them off the street and away from children.

Let me pause and say that if you are a sex offender or “know one” don’t waste your time leaving a comment.  You will never sway my beliefs.  Your constitutional rights are not being violated like your crime violated an innocent victim.

Honestly, I get a handful of comments from sex offenders every time I write an article exposing their crimes.  However, if it was not for sex offender comments, I would have no comments at all.  I am still trying to figure out how to strike the same chord with our other readers.  Do I need to make you mad?

Anyway, this morning, I was overwhelmed (literally) by news stories on sex offenders:

  • Local teacher arrested for raping a female student.
  • Local man arrested for forcing an 8 year old to perform a sex act on him THEN raping a 20 year old mentally handicapped woman.
  • OH teacher convicted of having sex with 5 students.
  • AZ referee arrested for raping 2 boys

That was all before breakfast.  And sadly enough is just a smidgen of what has happened across the country in the past 24 hours.

And then the first email I open was from a friend and partner who owns an insurance company.  They had a large church client leave them to go with a competitor who offered them cheap background checks.

Sorry for repeating myself, but when you have an enemy as focused and committed as a sex offender, you cannot win that battle with a free or cheap background check.  Cannot be done.

I will say this until I am blue in the face.   Churches, schools, volunteer organizations, anybody that works with or serves children has to understand how hard sex offenders are pushing on your door.  They will take the path of least resistance.  Instant background checks leave the door open and your organization vulnerable.

I want you to know the truth.  How to setup a background screening program that will keep your kids safe.  Keep your organization safe.  Keep you safe.  So you can focus on your mission or ministry.

Don’t be tricked by the lure of cheap or instant background checks.  Implement a background screening program that is a treat.

Are you ready to jump over the fence and place the safety and security of children as your top priority?  If so, we would love to work with you.  Contact us today.

Happy Halloween.

Checking Criminal Records: Are Sex Offenders a Protected Class?

checking criminal recordsHave you ever spent your whole day dealing with sex offenders?  I hope not. However, checking criminal records lends itself to days like this. And yesterday was one of those days for me.  Before finishing my first cup of java I was reviewing the pending background check of a physician who has been successful at removing his name from the state and national sex offender registry.  He was convicted and served time for child pornography.

This is certainly not new territory for me.  I was a violent crime detective with the Metro Nashville Police Department and have spent the past 20 years traveling the U.S. and Europe speaking at conferences on issues of violence against women and children.  

And violence against women and children is a topic that can really pinch the nerve of a perpetrator.  There have been times I have pinched so hard that it drew a comment from a participant.  No shock because every speaking engagement has perpetrators and victims represented.  I understand the math.

Usually the perpetrator waits and writes me a scathing note in the evaluation.  I take the comments as validation I am saying the right things.

Let me shout this from the rooftops:  I have no problem pinching the nerves of perpetrators in the defense of victims.  And I will never apologize for standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.  

After reviewing the sex offender record, I stumbled across a comment on a recent blog post I had written about sex offenders volunteering at a VA hospital.  In the past month, I have fielded many “spirited” comments from defenders of the rights of sex offenders.

Notice I say defenders because none of those commenting self-disclosed.  However, I can read between the lines.  

I thought the most recent comment might provide some valuable insight.  I will break this comment down to make it easier to dig into:

Anonymous Comment (AC):“The story was misleading and you obviously have no knowledge of ex sex offenders or of the legal system.”

Me:  Well, there is not a lick of valid research that would confirm that a sex offender ever reaches a category of “ex sex offender”.  Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.  The research is actually quite clear that sex offenders have an extremely high recidivism rate.  And, yes I do have an understanding of the legal system having been a violent crime detective and working with victims that had been raped, abused and murdered. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system rarely keeps its promise to victims of crime.

AC:  “You don't know who on the registry is actually guilty.  You are not familiar with their individual cases.”

Me:  Yes, I do.  Everybody listed on the registry has been convicted by a jury or a judge.  Have innocent people been convicted of crimes?  Yes.  However, there are far more offenders that should be on the list that are not than innocent people on the registry.

AC:  I have passed a background check and a suitability board by people who actually do know my situation.

Me:  Background check is so vague.  Was that a cheap database search?  Reference check?  How does the board know the situation?  Was the victim given a voice?

AC:  I have been through hell to get where I am serving my fellow veterans as an employee and volunteer and this guy would rather have me on the streets selling dope and and running prostitutes.

Me:  I cannot speak for someone I don’t know.  But I can tell you that I don’t want anybody on the streets selling dope or “running prostitutes.”  I have committed my entire life to crime prevention.

AC:  Ex sex offenders have been working there for decades and they just now are raising hell?

Me:  I agree.  They should have addressed this a long time ago.  

The State of Illinois is quite the contrast.  They have passed a law that suspends the license for health care workers who are convicted sex offenders or violent offenders.  

Thank you Illinois for swinging the pendulum back to safety and security.  

If you are not checking criminal records, contact us today and we will show you how easy and inexpensive background screening can be.  

Your Turn: It goes without saying I am very passionate about protecting victims.   Whether you agree, disagree or think I am crazy, I value your opinion.  What are your thoughts on sex offenders volunteering in hospitals?  Do you agree or disagree that a sex offender can become an “ex sex offender”?

Katie bar the door, I am sure the discussion will be lively!

Principal & Sex Offender: Importance of Employee Background Checks

employee background checksHere we go again.  Another person of trust using his power and authority to abuse children and satisfy his selfish and perverted desires. Think about the importance of current employee background checks as we look at this current incident.

So here is the cliff notes version of what happened.  A principal of a private school in Northern California is accused of touching young girls inappropriately.

So by all means let me be politically correct here and use the word accused.  Accused more times than we can count.  But accused it is.

Principal Robert Adams, or “Mr. Bob”, is accused of doing the following over the past 15 years:

  • Touching female children under their shirts and pants
  • Secluding female students under a computer desk
  • Lying down on a mat in his office with female students

The story popped up on my screen yesterday and I could have finished writing the story without knowing a single detail.  It is the same story, different offender and victims.

I thought about my daughters and my first instinct was, well, let’s say very fatherly.  Why?  Because I know what damage predators like this inflict on young victims.

His perversions rob them of their childhood and innocence.  It will likely follow them into adulthood and rob them of a sense of safety and security throughout their life.  How do you trust again when you have been hurt physically, emotionally and psychologically?  By someone who is entrusted with your care.

What blew my mind was the administrative assistant who had made 5 phone calls to the state before they took her complaints seriously?  Say what?  Is it that hard to believe that a school principal, police officer, or pastor could abuse a child?  Unfortunately not in our society.

What makes me sick to my stomach is wondering how many of the young girls were victimized because the first 4 calls fell on deaf ears.  I can only imagine the phone calls by the assistant were not vague since she was able to produce a notebook with everything she had witnessed.

So what does this have to do with current employee background checks?   A lot.  This principal abused for more than 15 years.  Right in the school under the noses of teachers and other students.

Keeping our children safe requires:

  1. Dogged Determination.  Sex offenders are not passive.  They are aggressive, extreme risk takers, and have a tunnel focus on satisfying their sick fantasies.
  2. An Ongoing Process.  A lot can change after a person is hired.  Background Screening is an on-going process.
  3. More Than a Criminal Background Check.  More than 80% of sexual assaults go unreported.  So 80% of our sex offenders do not have a criminal record.
  4. Prioritizing Safety & Security of Children.  Shopping for the cheapest background checks means safety is secondary.

It feels like I keep talking about the safety and security of children.  I don’t want to sound like a broken record.  However, I will not stop preaching until our children live in a society where these stories do not exist.

View our recorded webinar series on sex offenders to learn more about the enemy we are fighting.  Detective James McLaughlin, MS, has spent more than 25 years researching, interviewing, tracking and prosecuting sex offenders and shares some valuable insight in these webinars.

Are you numb to these stories?  Or do they still make you sick to your stomach?

What Can We Learn From a Sex Offender Background Check? Persistence

sex offender background checks resized 600I have spent the past day thinking a lot about persistence.  My 12 year old was selected and played in an All Star baseball game this week. We talked about how far he has come since last year when he was struggling at the plate and contemplating not playing baseball anymore.

Instead, he worked hard on his skills.  He became persistent.  He was not going to be denied.  He set his eyes on something that he wanted to accomplish and he did it.

Persistence is a great quality.  We search it out as employers.  President Calvin Coolidge once stated:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

However, what had me thinking about persistence today was a background screening report a team member told me to look at.  I flipped through the pages of records:

  • Sexual Battery with Force
  • Sexual Battery
  • Felony Possession of a Firearm
  • False Information

Did I mention he was applying at a school?

So I was thinking about what we could learn from a sex offender background check. And I realized a lot.

This violent sex offender had paid $28 for his criminal background check.  I commented to several team members, “Can you believe this guy?  Paying for his background check with these records.”

This is lesson in persistence that should be taught to every organization that works with children.  This predator has raped and destroyed lives and is still doing everything he can to gain access to our kids.

Yeah, you and I look at this through our eyes and say that it is stupid to pay for a background check with a criminal history like his.  However, the real point here is not the records but the slight hope this offender has that he will not be exposed. He hopes you are trying to protect your organization with cheap background checks.

Did I mention that he does not show up in the National Sex Offender Registry?  I have no idea why.  It could be that his crimes pre-dated the registry.  It could be a good plea agreement.  Whatever the reason, he is not on the registry.

I admit there is great satisfaction in exposing violent predators and protecting one of our clients.  There is also a tinge of sadness because I know he will not give up because our school turned him away.  He simply moves down the street.

He might be at your church to volunteer this Sunday.  I hope you are not relying on cheap background checks to keep him out.

Are you more persistent in keeping this sex offender out than he is to get in?

What is the #1 Tool of Child Sex Offenders?

sex offenderShhh.  Promise not to tell?  Can you keep a secret?  Who has not told or kept a few secrets in their life? However, secrets can be used to silence and alienate innocent victims.

Yes, the #1 tool of child sex offenders is secrets.  Deep, dangerous secrets that are surrounded by threats, intimidation and fear.  Child Sex offenders are manipulative, narcissistic and focused on their personal gratification with absolutely no regard for their victims.

We know from years of research that 1 in 4 young girls and 1 in 6 young boys will be a victim of sexual assault before they reach adulthood.  Did you hear that?  Look around today at children and realize that every 4th girl or 6th boy has been sexually assaulted.

Does that make you sick to your stomach?  It should.  I was exposed to child sexual abuse at a very early age.  Thank God, I was not a victim but a child of a police officer and victim advocate who were committed to ending all forms of violence.  So at 16 my mom and dad had to take me aside and tell me I was giving up my bedroom to a young 13 year old girl.   She was being sexually assaulted by her father and needed the safety and security of our house while the investigation was launched.  I knew her well.  Her father was a local school teacher and they were members of our small church family.

It still makes me sick to my stomach 27 years later (did I just give my age away?).  That exposure to evil and raw violence scarred me and has lead to a lifetime mission of ending all forms of violence.

We have to join hands in breaking the silence and bringing these predators into the light.  So how do we do it?

  • Our friends at Christianity Today provide  a great curriculum Reducing the Risk
  • Good Touch Bad Touch provides great educational resources
  • Comprehensive Criminal Background Checks
  • Quality Reference Checks….stay tuned for iRefCheck which is launching soon
  • Speak Out.  Become an Ambassador for breaking the silence.

It is easy to assume others will carry this torch.  However, we need you to get off the fence and get involved.  We are committed to equipping you with the tools, training and services needed to help stop the violence.

Join us on 05/19/2011 at 2PM EST for a FREE Webinar on Child Sex Offenders:  Understanding the Enemy.

Sex Offender Lonnie Johnson & Criminal Background Check

criminal background check resized 600On 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?