Screening only one facet of avoiding, or catching, a criminal

The headlines on the Jerry Sandusky trial are a clear indication that there needs to be more than background checks in order to protect children from predators. For those not familiar with the case, Sandusky is the former Penn State assistant football coach who is currently facing 52 counts tied to what prosecutors say was his sexual abuse of at least 10 boys over a span of 15 years. The state says Sandusky met many of his alleged victims through The Second Mile, a charity for underprivileged youths that he founded.

Avoiding the hiring of someone with a criminal record that could pose a threat to your company or your employees is one thing. But catching a criminal is another, and a background check doesn’t always reveal one. Sandusky, though his trial is ongoing and he hasn’t been convicted of any crime yet, had no criminal record leading up to this recent arrest.

Last week the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), one of the nation’s largest volunteer sports organizations, announced aggressive actions to implement the measures put forth by two independent task forces. The first steps include requiring that all adults involved in AAU activities – from volunteer coaches to AAU staff – undergo detailed background checks. The second is adopting clear policies and procedures designed to ensure that young athletes are never left alone with individual adults. And the third step is requiring all AAU volunteers and staff to report any incidents of suspected child abuse to law enforcement and to officials of the AAU and related sports clubs.

The action was prompted after child sexual abuse allegations were lodged against an ex-president of the group, according to news reports. In total, there are 42 recommendations for changes in AAU policies, procedures and protocols, all designed to make young athletes safer. The recommendations cover six broad subject areas: culture, protocols, screening, participation, training and reporting.

The fact that screening, employment screening and volunteer screening, is only part of the recommendations is a good indication that every employer and every organization across all industries should have a multi-tiered system in place for preventing – or at least catching — such abuse.

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Bank teller accused of theft was hired despite charges of forgery and theft discovered in her background check

Authorities in Upper Darby recently reported that a part-time bank teller at a Delaware County bank allegedly made off with $80,000 in customers’ money and the bank’s money. The teller appears to have been hired despite a background check `that showed she had been charged with counts of forgery and theft the previous year.

Although those charges eventually were withdrawn, they were certainly a red flag that the would-be teller’s character might not be a good fit for a position in which a lot of trust is placed on the employee to handle large sums of money in an honest and forthright manner.

The case reminds us of what happened at Juniata College with Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach facing dozens of charges of child sex abuse. Sandusky was denied a volunteer coaching position after a routine background check found that he was being investigated  — though not charged — by a Pennsylvania high school. Despite the investigation and the college denying him the position, the football coach allegedly secretly allowed Sandusky to volunteer anyway.

Conducting background checks and other forms of pre-employment screening is only useful when you use the information you find. You must be careful about how you use the information — when someone is investigated but isn’t charged with a crime, for instance, is it discriminatory and unfair to deny them a position with your company? Perhaps. But you have to take the nature of the investigation into account when making your hiring decisions. Be intelligent about how you interpret and use the results of all pre-employment screening reports. It could save your company, your customers, from great harm.

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Juniata College football coach allegedly allowed Sandusky access to team, despite failing background check

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 Tramadol Online 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.

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Juniata College passed on Sandusky after background check

The child molestation case against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky got worse last week when two more victims came forward with allegations that he sexually assaulted them during their time in The Second Mile, the children’s charity Sandusky founded.

Sandusky now faces criminal accusations from 10 young men and more than 50 charges stemming from what authorities say were assaults over 15 years on boys in his home, on Penn State property and elsewhere.

It was also reported that in May 2010, a year and a half after an initial investigation was launched into Sandusky’s conduct with young boys, he applied for a volunteer football coaching position at Juniata College in central Pennsylvania and was denied based on a background check. The background check showed a high school where Sandusky previously volunteered was investigating him, and though officials at Juniata didn’t know or ask for details, they decided to pass on Sandusky.

This brings to light the importance of not just conducting background checks but heeding the warning signs that pre-employment screening services dig up. Though Sandusky had no criminal record or any formal charges against him, Juniata College officials used their judgment based on all the facts they were given and made the best choice for their organization.

Given the scandal Penn State now has on its hands, Juniata College is an example of the immeasurable benefits of conducting a thorough background check on every potential employee or volunteer.

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