New Background Screening Requirements

Click here to read the full story from ABC News.

Following the Boston Globe’s recent investigation into the repercussions of not performing background checks on referees, the board of directors for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) will now require criminal background checks for high school officiates. The investigation showed that a number of referees working with children in the state had dangerous criminal backgrounds including child molestation and distributing cocaine in a school zone.

One particularly disturbing case was that of Philip Paul, a convicted sex offender who sexually assaulted a 15-year old boy at a New Hampshire summer camp in 1986. Paul, who was 32 at the time of his conviction, plead guilty and then went on to sexually assault another inmate while serving time in prison. Prior to this case, in 1977, Paul was convicted in a Connecticut court for sexually abusing a minor. In 2002, Paul was charged with indecent exposure and in 2003, he was charged with failure to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts.

Today, Paul is considered a level 2 offender, meaning that he poses a moderate risk of reoffending.

Even more frightening than Paul’s disturbing criminal past is the fact that a background check had not been conducted on him. Paul had been serving as a basketball referee for various high school games in the state of Massachusetts for several years.

Cases like this, where background checks were not performed on those people who are working around children, are what have prompted the MIAA to take action. The new requirements for background checks will begin this summer and include referees and umpires who work with children.

The new background screening program for referees will now disqualify those who have offenses that include, but are not limited to: sexual assault, crimes against minors, violence and drug offenses.

The initial report done by the Globe helped to showcase the dangers posed by those individuals who have not undergone due diligent background checks. However disturbing the results of the Globe’s report may seem, it is very likely that there are other offenders whose records did not show up in the limited search that was performed for the investigation. The Globe was only able to search the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry and criminal documents through the 20 superior courts in the state. The investigation DID NOT search OUT-OF-STATE records and jurisdictions.

Responsible background screening providers know the importance of using an address trace in their investigations so that previous states and counties of residence can be searched for past criminal history.

Although the investigation by the Boston Globe may have shown only a handful of referees with criminal records out of the 7,600 registered officiates, we now know that these numbers can be skewed. Searching only in-state records leaves a very real possibility of never discovering an applicant’s criminal past, especially if those alleged crimes were committed out of state.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has long been a proponent of the need for background checks for governing bodies.

“If you have pedophiles, you are providing them an opportunity to stake out or lust after individuals, so it’s in our best interest to protect our young people,” says NFHS Sports director Theresia Wynns. “We do that with background checks.”

You can read more about the stories behind this blog post from the Boston Globe here:

Click here to learn more about SSCI’s National Background Screening Program for Youth Sports!