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Background checks aren't failsafe

By Sonya Colberg The Oklahoman & Gavin Off and Ginnie Graham - Tulsa World Staff Reporters Published: February 21, 2010

One had been convicted of false impersonation, the other with enabling child sexual abuse.

Owner Scott Pilgrim disagreed with the findings, saying one had charges pending and the other involved extenuating circumstances with a family domestic dispute. However, he said the home fired the employees.

Pilgrim said some OSBI checks have shown no criminal histories and later found some issues were present. As an added measure, the home has an agreement with the local police department to do background checks in addition to the state check.

While OSBI checks are required and cost $35 a piece, some homes contract out for national searches.

Home of Hope in Vinita completed a background check on Jerald Ray Bishop, who worked for the home for two years before a resident made claims in 2008 he raped her while she worked at an on-site job. Bishop is awaiting an April 16 preliminary hearing in Craig County to determine whether he will be tried.

The OSBI check showed no previous criminal issues, said Home of Hope Chief Executive Officer David Svedman.

But after the sexual abuse allegations surfaced, Vinita police discovered a criminal history in California dating back to 1987, including one charge of sex acts involving a child younger than 14, the affidavit states.

Bishop had a conviction, served jail time and probation, the affidavit states.

The home had an OSBI check on a different applicant come back showing no convictions, but a national search firm found a felony conviction from Oklahoma County.

Svedman said the home now uses a national search to complete a more in-depth, comprehensive search. Plus, his employees must undergo random drug testing.


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