Last week we reported that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is facing more than 50 criminal charges in a huge child sex abuse case, was turned down from volunteering at Juniata College in Pennsylvania after a routine background check turned up the fact that he was being investigated by a PA high school where he was a volunteer. That seemed to be a positive example of how background checks can work effectively to keep people, and children in particular, safe from predators.
However, disturbing new reports have now surfaced claiming that although Juniata College officials told the school’s football coach he was not to allow Sandusky to help out or be around the football team, the coach allegedly disregarded their repeated directives, allowing Sandusky access to all the players throughout the 2010 football season. According to Juniata football players who have come forward on condition of anonymity, Sandusky attended every game, both home and away, and helped to coach from the press box.
Juniata’s football players say Sandusky was present at their practices as well. Though no students at Juniata College are alleging that any crimes took place at the hands of Sandusky, the reports do call into question the authority of school officials, and the judgment by the football coach who it seems put possible wins ahead of student safety.
Background checks are merely a tool to give employers, and those entrusted with the care of minors, the means to keep people and assets safe. If what is found during a background check is ignored, the safety of your employees, your organization and your children are at risk. Let Juniata College be a reminder of the importance not just of performing background checks, but adhering to the warning signs that those checks dig up.