The lack of adequate background checks has left several communities in Tennessee exposed to a dangerous situation when a convicted sex offender slipped through the cracks and was caught working with young athletes. Herman Lee Brown, 52, was arrested in April 2016 after police received a tip that a registered sex offender had been umpiring girl’s softball games in Robertson County. Mr. Brown was arrested for the second time late last year on November 4, for violating the sex offender registry, knowingly falsifying a sex offender registry, and perjury on the sex offender registry form, each charge carrying multiple counts.
According to the Tennessee sex offender registry website, Brown was convicted for rape and indecent acts with a child in 2000 and is now listed as a “violent offender”.
Under the law, registered sex offenders are prohibited from working within 1,000 feet of a school or entering a school’s property.
The most recent arrest comes after Brown was once again found to be working with children, serving as a referee for several middle and high schools throughout multiple counties in Tennessee including Montgomery, Houston, Robertson and Dickson.
According to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), background checks were not yet being conducted when Brown first signed up to work as an umpire in 2015. Brown was required to sign a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Sex Offender Registration and Tracking Form in March of 2015 but according to an arrest warrant, he did not mention his involvement with the TSSAA as a youth sports official. A representative for the TSSAA says that there is no way to know if Brown may have officiated any games prior to the organization's implementation of background checks because they are listed as independent contractors and therefore, are not assigned to games directly through the TSSAA office. However, the issue remains that Brown, a convicted sex offender, was indeed working around children prior to his arrest for violating sex offender registry laws.
The TSSAA began conducting background checks on November 12th of 2015. “We implemented (background checks) on Nov.12, and the board (of control) did not make it retroactive,” said TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress in an interview with USA Today High School Sports in April. “The reasoning was that we’re going to do them every single year from this point forward, which most people do not do.”
With dangerous records missing from many database-only background checks, how can you be sure that the background screening program you are implementing is keeping children in your community safe?
The answer lies in choosing a background check provider who utilizes multiple tools and methods for screening your applicants. It is also critical to employ a background check provider that will search for potential records in other states where the applicant may have had a previous residence. This level of due-diligence and in-depth investigation can help to prevent dangerous criminals from slipping through the cracks and working with children and other vulnerable populations.
Why is SSCI more effective than other providers?
SSCI goes beyond a national database for an in-depth investigation that most providers do not offer.
If the cost of the background check is $15 or less, or the results are instantaneous, it is most likely a database-only screening. Database-only checks are substandard in the field of Parks and Recreation and do not meet the test of due diligence in the court of law.