Sandusky Failed Background Check When Applying to Volunteer Position in May 2010

Some claim background checks for volunteer positions go too far, but this week, it was discovered that Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant Penn State football coach, applied for such a role at Juniata College in May 2010 and did not pass the background check.

According to the Associated Press, Sandusky was recommended for the position by Juniata’s former head football coach. Although why Sandusky failed the background check is not clear, he never accepted the position at the school, which screens all applicants for paid and volunteer positions, with the exception of student workers in campus offices, before making a formal offer. At the time, however, Sandusky was applying to the position after a year-and-a-half investigation into his contact with young boys, and Juniata issued the following statement:

“This letter is to notify you that we are unable to make you an offer of volunteer employment based on our hiring criteria. Justifacts Credential Verification Inc. ran a background check and discovered that Central Mountain High School, where you worked as a Volunteer Football Coach, is undergoing an investigation that prevents you from being eligible to work for their school. You failed to include this information on the background verification form that you filled out at the time of your interview.”

Sandusky has been accused of sexually abusing a Central Mountain student and nine other boys over 15 years and is being charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse. His hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, December 13, and is expected to take at least a day. Sandusky, through interviews, denies the charges.

Considering this background check was conducted more than a year ago, why didn’t Penn State respond sooner?

While background checks are often called excessive for and, in some cases, are thought to shrink the pool of eligible volunteers, this instance indicates that screening all candidates, regardless of recommendations, is necessary.