Background Check Negligence in Murder by Reality TV Contestant

The news from this past week revealed that a contestant of reality TV show Megan Wants a Millionaire murdered his ex-wife, Jasmine Fiore, and then killed himself. Recent articles about this, however, reveal that the producers of Megan Wants didn’t do thorough background checks on contestants before starting the show. Although the producers thought that the background check company had done background checks on all contestants, the background check for contestant Ryan Jenkins didn’t bring up 2007 charges of battery and domestic violence – done to his then-wife Fiore – in Canada that resulted in fifteen months of parole. Although other reality TV contestants have been kicked off shows in the past because of their background – think of American Idol contestants with racy photos or criminal backgrounds – this charge above a misdemeanor was not seen on Jenkins’ background report.

How is this possible, especially as the contestant had charges higher than a misdemeanor and they were within the past seven years? Although not enough information is known about Jenkins’ past, if the background check was done by an American background check company, it may have only checked any criminal history he had within the United States – not Canada. And, aside from background checks involving fingerprints, Jenkins could have not been honest about his past addresses and criminal history in Canada. In essence, he might have thought, “What happens in Canada stays in Canada.”

Background checks can vary with the companies that do them, and while some look up information based on the names, addresses, and social security number given, others go by fingerprints for criminal history. But, again, even if Jenkins had given his fingerprints to the background check company, the company may have only checked American sources like the FBI database for criminal history.

As various reality TV contestants have been found to be somewhat fraudulent over the years – from contestants claiming to be millionaires when they aren’t to other contestants with criminal or other “racy” histories coming forward on the shows – producers of these shows should be doing more than a basic check on every contestant.