Background Checks Often Not Enough To Stop Child Sexual Abuse
Close Supervision and Monitoring Needs To Be Done, Too.
Organizations and entities that serve children can be responsible for child sexual abuse — even if they perform their own seemingly vigorous background checks.
This simple truth hit home with me as I read a recent article published on the Orlando Sentinel website detailing how Sylvester Johnson, a 62-year-old worker at the Boys and Girls Club of Kissimmee was recently arrested on accusations of lewd and lascivious battery on three young girls in the program.
Apparently Mr. Johnson allegedly made several sexually suggestive comments to girls in the program, and allegedly grabbed once of the girls’ buttocks. He also allegedly took a young girl into a closet and fondled her in exchange for candy money, and told another young girl that he wished he was younger so that he could date her.
Boys and Girls Club officials were very quick to state that they ran a very vigorous background check on Mr. Johnson when they originally hired him, as well as recently as a month ago.
As a Florida child sexual abuse attorney, I have to wonder why a recent background check was conducted on Mr. Johnson. Was there some concern about Mr. Johnson, individually? Was there some concern within the organization that there was a potential sexual abuser on staff?
Second, many organizations seem to think that a thorough background check is enough, but it isn’t. Organizations that cater to children also have a duty to remain vigilant in terms of monitoring and supervising all adults who are placed in contact with the children that they work with. Sexual predators and child sexual abusers are often very skilled at hiding their prior activities and backgrounds. There are actually websites and other resources available to pedophiles and child predators that tell them how to prepare for a background check. Experience tells us that these folks generally cannot help themselves and will abuse again and again.
Typically these folks have less opportunity to do so if they’re being very closely monitored or watched by their employers. Background checks are essential, but they are not the end-all-be-all.
If you have any questions regarding a Florida child sexual abuse case, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901, or visit cullen-hemphill.com.