A former assistant high school volleyball coach in Minnesota was recently sentenced to four years for sexually assaulting one of his players and another student at the school. In 1999, he had been convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Wisconsin. At the time, he was 24 and the victim was 16 (he subsequently admitted to sexual encounters with other teenage girls, as well). However, despite being a convicted sex offender, he was still hired as a coach of teenage girls at North Lakes Academy in 2015.
One of the former students has now filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging it lacked “any policy setting standards for acceptable background check providers” and instead relied on the day-to-day judgments of its staff to vet applicants based on their criminal history results, but could not protect against lapses in judgment.” In this case, the perpetrator provided and paid for his own background check through Protect My Ministry, which “inaccurately stated that [he] had no criminal history.” Without any additional background screening processes in place, the school failed to uncover his previous conviction and hired him, endangering the welfare of hundreds of teenagers.
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We cannot stress the importance of background checks enough, especially in situations like these, involving vulnerable populations. We stress this not as a provider, but as people who care about the safety of students, employees, and patients, and who understand that you can minimize risks with accurate, thorough background checks. Please contact us if you have any questions about your own background screening practices.
Image by: Star Tribune