The Syracuse Post Standard published a story today titled, “How the city of Syracuse hired a registered sex offender“. When I first glanced at the title, I thought — “hmm, there could be some liability here”. I was thinking that perhaps the City had unwittingly hired a registered sex offender to work around kids and the guy had raped or abused one of them. But that’s not what happened.
Here’s what did happen. Three years after the City of Syracuse hired a garbage collector, he was indicted for sodomizing a boy (not on-the-job, though). When the City hired the guy, the City had not checked his criminal history, nor New York’s sex offender registry. If the City had done so , it would have turned up several criminal convictions, including one for sodomizing a 15-year old boy, which is in fact just about the same thing he is again being accused of.
The City makes no apologies, nor should it, in my opinion. The City’s policy, which makes sense to me, is to perform criminal background and sex registry checks only for sensitive job hiring positions, like camp counselors, summer park staff, firefighters, police, etc. In fact, for jobs like garbage collecting, the City often knowingly hires ex-cons. The City feels, and I agree, that someone has to give these guys a way to make a living, and a second chance in life. Hiring ex-cons keeps them off the Syracuse “streets” where, without a job or a penny in their pocket, they are likely to commit more crimes.
So why did the City fire this guy after this latest allegation? (Remember, he hasn’t been convicted of the latest charge, and is innocent until proven guilty). Because he lied on his job application three years early, that’s why. Well, he didn’t actually lie. He just left blank the part where they ask for his “criminal convictions”. The City says that was fraudulent because he did so to hide his background. But the irony is that, if he had answered truthfully, he probably would have been hired anyway. And if he had told the truth, he probably would not be getting fired now, and least not until (and if) he is convicted.
So when would the City be liable for negligent hiring of a convicted child abuser or sex offender? Well, if this same guy had been hired to work in a city park frequented by children, and ended up raping some kid “on the job”, or whom he met at the park, Syracuse New York personal injury lawyers would be standing in line for a chance to represent the child victim and his parents in a negligent hiring case against the City. But thankfully, that’s not what happened here.
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