Despite his conviction, a man was hired at the NY Administration for Children’s Service. He is accused of assaulting a 6-year-old boy while on the job.
The Alleged Assault
A man named Jacques Edwards was hired to work at the New York based Administration for Children’s Service (ACS). In August 2018, stories broke about Edwards allegedly assaulting a 6-year-old boy who was under his care. According to a criminal complaint, the worker pushed this child into a door and then slammed his head against a filing cabinet. Edwards claims this was done in self-defense.
One statement regarding the alleged assault mentioned that Edwards has a raised scar and the boy was attempting to tear it off. Edwards said the child was biting and scratching his arm. He suggested that his actions were solely to prevent the boy from doing additional harm to him. Surveillance cameras in the facility captured the incident. This footage was used to initiate a case against Edwards.
When Edwards was 18 he was involved in a fatal shooting. He was convicted of this crime and served 28 years. His sentence was completed in 2010 and Edwards was once again free.
A few years later, Edwards applied for and was granted a position at the ACS. He worked there for more than 4 years before this alleged assault occurred.
Was The Worker Background Screened?
ACS employees work with young children. Therefore, applicants who have violent, sexual or other serious criminal histories should be automatically disqualified from obtaining positions with the organization. Despite his conviction, however, Edwards was granted employment in 2014.
An investigation commenced into why and how this happened. The ACS is accused of not running a background check on Edwards. Had they conducted a criminal background investigation, his violent conviction would have been discovered and he would have been deemed ineligible for hire.
Next Steps For The ACS
ACS Commissioner David Hansell reportedly blamed his predecessor for the failure to background screen Edwards. During a press conference he said they would “review the circumstances under which he was hired.” Hansell also admitted that he was uncertain if other employees might have criminal convictions and ordered “spot checks” on the staff.
Moving forward, the ACS intends to run background checks on everyone who applies for work. They will use these reports to find out if an applicant has a serious conviction and to help determine if each person is qualified for hire.
What Employers Should Know
It is imperative to run background checks on potential employees, contractors and volunteers. In most cases a criminal conviction does not automatically disqualify a person. Each one should be reviewed and considered based on the type of position, relevancy of the offense, how long ago the offense occurred and other relevant factors.
There are strong rules for anyone who will work with children, the elderly or other vulnerable persons. Applicants who have certain types of convictions are not eligible for such positions. Employers who hire workers that will have direct contact with these individuals, be granted access to customer’s homes or otherwise have direct access to another human being should always run comprehensive background checks to help protect the people they serve.
Is your business background screening applicants and employees to meet due diligence requirements? If not, or if you have questions about improving your screening policies, please contact us. Our experienced and knowledgeable team is here Monday – Friday from 5am to 6pm to assist you.