A community is in turmoil after the former PTA president at the local elementary school was arrested. Cops say 37-year-old David M. Navarro (not to be confused with rocker Dave Navarro) recorded the sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl on school property. Then he posted it on the Internet! Technically that means child pornography was being made at an elementary school!
How could such a thing happen? How could a guy who'd do that not only get into a school, but rise to the president of the Belfair Elementary School PTA? Surely heads should roll.
Well, maybe not.
The school's superintendent says they did a "state patrol background check" on Navarro when he became an elementary school volunteer back in 2011. It missed a 2009 charge for "lewd and lascivious acts with a child" as well as "indecent exposure." But that charge was dropped ... Navarro was never prosecuted.
Unfortunately, this is the shortcoming of background checks. Typically they only uncover things that have been prosecuted. If someone skates or -- almost worse -- flies under the radar for years, a background check does diddly squat. It can't really determine the potential for someone to do something bad, only if they have been prosecuted in the past for doing something wrong.
What we're left with is an imperfect system that puts people like David M. Navarro in a school. It puts a guy who police say shot at least six videos of this poor little girl, including one of her performing oral sex on school grounds, in a school.
The only good news in all of this is that authorities here in the states were tipped off by police overseas who noted a GPS stamp on one of the videos found online (because, of course, child pornography spreads like a virus) that directed them to the Bellfair school. They were able to nail their suspect.
Navarro is accused of uploading some 14 inappropriate photos to the site in addition to the video. He's facing federal child pornography charges. If he's guilty, he will go away for a good long time -- and that should show up on ANY background check.
Do you have faith in background checks? Do you see any way to improve them?
Image via stevendepolo/Flickr