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Background checks, policies help some Cenla churches prevent sexual improprieties

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Written by
David Dinsmore
For The Town Talk

 

Some local churches and organizations have highlighted the proactive stance they take to protect the youths in their congregations against sexual improprieties by church officials.

The recent rape and molestation charges filed against former Donahue Family Church youth leader Angelo Deboray “Doogie” Golatt have raised questions about churches’ policies on background checks during hiring and any rules to prevent situations in which a youth might be alone with a church official.

“We have a policy that addresses specific issues to include what is not going to be tolerated,” said Gary Maxwell, executive minister with The Pentecostals of Alexandria. “It basically stipulates what is in the law along with some added things that we will not tolerate.”

Yet, beyond a set of ground rules, some church officials said they also require applicants to submit to a full background check when being considered for a position with a youth group.

Maxwell said the process starts with an application that asks specific questions about the job candidate’s history, specifically in regards to sexual misconduct, including convictions or dismissals from previous employers.

“As a staff member “» I have to fill out what we call a ‘reducing the risk’ form,” said Matt Hubbard, who has worked as the senior high and college pastor at Calvary Baptist Church for the last two years. “It’s kind of a mix of what they started up about 18 years ago when they did some research with attorneys and judges, before all the background search stuff started.”

Churches conducting background checks submit the information in applications to companies like LexisNexis, a business solutions company used by Calvary Baptist Church and The Pentecostals of Alexandria, in order to match it with information gleaned from a full background check.

Maxwell said the church selected LexisNexis based on the recommendation of its insurance company, Church Mutual.

“They run the information through several agencies to come up with a yea or nay, or in some way confirm what these people have told us in their written applications,” Maxwell said. “It usually doesn’t take too long. We usually get responses back within just a few days.”

This process has been in place at The Pentecostals of Alexandria for about five years, Maxwell said.

In addition to background searches, the Catholic Diocese of Alexandria requires all employees and commissioned volunteers to participate in educational and training programs to teach not only the moral responsibilities of their positions but also how to identify problems.

“Everybody who is employed by the diocese — even if they are not associated with youth — we highly recommend the VIRTUS training,” said Ann Masden, director of development and public affairs. VIRTUS is the name of risk-control programs created by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group Inc. to raise awareness and reduce the risk of sexual abuse within the church.

“(Screening is) something that is very real and a necessary part of our society nowadays,” Maxwell said.

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Written by demon53

May 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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