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When background checks aren't enough

When background checks aren't enough Door-to-door security sales rep charged with rape and attempted murder, but company who hired him says it had no information showing he was threat

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—SecureWatch, an ADT authorized dealer based here, takes steps to make sure job applicants don't have criminal backgrounds—such as paying a top-notch company to do background checks on them and searching the Internet for information about them, said company COO Paul Victor.

So the company was stunned to learn that a brand-new door-to-door sales rep it had hired—who Victor said had checked out clean—stands charged with raping and attempting to murder a potential customer in her home last week while he was working for SecureWatch in Tampa, Fla.

Rashad Hales, 19, of Tampa, was out selling security systems the evening of Dec. 30 when he forced his way into the woman's home, raping and choking her and threatening her with a knife, according to news reports.

“This is beyond shocking,” Victor told Security Systems News. “We did all the damn right things and still this happened. So I guess the lesson is: You never know and think about the unthinkable.”

No information the company had about Hales would have predicted he would be a threat to anyone, Victor said.

Hales was only in his ninth day of working for SecureWatch—which has about 1,500 employees and which sells door-to-door throughout the Southeast, ranging from Cincinnati to Florida—when the attack allegedly occurred, Victor said.

Hales, a high school student working on his GED, was eager to have the sales job over the winter break, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Victor declined to name the company that SecureWatch hires to do background checks but said it is used by the industry's top security companies and is “supposedly the cream of the crop.” The company reported Hales had no criminal background, Victor said.

“There was nothing. The guy was as clean as a whistle,” Victor said. “Then it turned out because of the level of access we had in our commercial background search, we didn't see until I read in the paper that he had some juvenile offenses.” Hales previously was charged with misdemeanor offenses—battery when he was 14 and trespassing when he was 15, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Because background-check companies don't always have access to all criminal databases, the Electronic Security Association is urging the passage of federal legislation that would allow electronic security companies to search the FBI's database to determine whether job applicants have a criminal record, SSN reported recently.

However, it's not clear in this case whether having access to the FBI database would have uncovered Hales' juvenile records with the state, or whether they would have made a difference. “Having the immediate vision of hindsight, I would say absolutely I would never have hired him, but I don't know if that's a fair statement,” Victor said.

Because “14-year-olds sometimes do silly things,” he said, SecureWatch decides on a case-by-case basis if an applicant with a minor offense as a juvenile is suitable for hiring.

In Hales' case, he said, the company made its hiring decision “based on history, and there was none.”


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