Recent events in London have left me unsettled and in search of answers.
It has come to my attention that a local man has been charged with multiple charges including kidnapping and sexually assaulting a minor. That is disturbing enough; however, what left me the most unsettled was learning that:
- He was employed to work with our most vulnerable population; and
- He had been previously charged with two counts each of sexual assault and sexual interference with a minor which resulted in a withdrawal of the charges when the accused agreed to enter into a peace bond preventing contact or communication with the complainant; and
- After his first run-in with the courts, he continued to be employed in a local school as withdrawal of earlier charges did not result in a criminal record (although in what capacity has not been determined).
What checks and balances does our education system have in place to ensure those working with our vulnerable are suitable for this employment and remain so?
To be hired or volunteer within a school setting you must provide vulnerable persons criminal record check. Once hired you must submit a yearly declaration and NOT a subsequent record check. This is a form completed by the individual that lists any Criminal Code convictions for which a pardon has not been granted since the last criminal background check was submitted. Basically, it is your written word.
The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) states that in a yearly declaration “Members are not required to disclose any information regarding investigations, charges, peace bonds, convictions for which pardons have been granted, conditional or absolute discharges, or information related to convictions under legislation other than the Criminal Code of Canada.”
I’m curious if the school involved was aware of this man’s previous charges relating to a minor as he wouldn’t have been required to provide a criminal record check after his initial hiring. He would have only had to submit a declaration which, if he followed the ETFO advice, he would not have included the withdrawal of charges upon entering into a peace bond.
Is this good enough? Why are we so lax as to merely require a declaration and not an annual or bi-annual criminal record check to demonstrate a person’s ongoing suitability to be employed in schools? Potentially, after the initial hiring, one could remain employed working with children for decades without having to provide proof of a clean criminal record other than their word.
Are we too trusting? Do you think the school is liable for not doing enough to prevent predators working in our schools? Millars Law believes they are, and we are confident the family of the abducted child has a possible lawsuit should they chose to explore that option.
Contact us today: (519) 657-1LAW or Info@millarslaw.com
By Shari Lamore