A Cobb County man is currently facing backlash due to a previous child sexual abuse charge, which didn’t stop him from being hired at a church-run daycare program in Georgia.
A childcare worker at Bethany United Methodist Church recently became the subject of a media investigation after a parent dropping off their child had an “uneasy feeling” about him and decided to run a background check on his name.
What the background check turned up was shocking to say the least, but police say that because the man was sentenced under the state’s “First Offender” program, in the eyes of the law, he hasn’t done anything wrong by keeping it a secret.
Father’s Intuition Leads to Discovery of Child Sexual Battery Charges
Ryan Rubin, the parent of a boy who attends Bethany United Methodist Church, caught on to the fact that there was something “off” about one of the daycare employees. His intuition led him to conduct his own background check on the worker.
He discovered that Joseph Farrington, the man at the center of the storm, was arrested and charged in 2000 after it was discovered that he had been fondling a teenage family member for a period of two years. For reasons we do not know, the District Attorney allowed Farrington to plead guilty to a lesser charge of sexual battery at the time.
This charge earned him a 12-month probation term, a court order instructing him to stay away from the victim, and was ordered to attend sex offender counseling.
Once his sentence was completed, however, his arrest and guilty plea were effectively sealed from public record. This is because he was placed in the “First Offender” program, which essentially expunges a person’s record and conviction if they have no prior arrests and successfully fulfill the conditions of their sentence.
WXIA was granted an interview with Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds, who stated that sexual battery was the only sexual offense involving a child that one could plead as a “First Offender.”
Some Daycares are Not Even Required to Perform a Background Check
While Bethany United Methodist Church’s child care program is registered with the state, it is not required to obtain a license — and thus, not legally required to perform background checks on potential employees. This is why we always recommend finding a licensed daycare and inquiring about background checks, staff ratios, and other similar concerns.
Bethany United Methodist Church says that they did perform a background check on Farrington, but that the 3rd-party screening company they used did not reveal the sexual battery charge. The church claims that no children were believed to have been harmed by Farrington (who WXIA also discovered had previously worked as a bus driver attached to the Cobb County School District from 2013-2016), and that he resigned as soon as they were made aware of his criminal history.
Holding a Daycare Liable for Their Negligence
According to the law, any licensed childcare organization that hires an individual without performing a proper and thorough background check may be liable for damages should the individual—at any time in the future, while working for the organization—commit an act of child abuse. This abuse can come in many forms such as sexual, physical and even emotional; all of which can negatively impact a child for the rest of their life.
Your options to pursue a civil claim against the negligent daycare facility are completely separate from any criminal proceedings. Even if police fail to bring charges, you may absolutely still have a valid claim for money damages. If you have any question as to whether you have a valid claim, we urge you to contact us today for a free over-the-phone consultation at 1-877-403-9378.
Parents – Listen To Your Intuition
As a parent, it is important to listen to your intuition and look for any changes in your child’s behavior. Never ignore that little voice at the back of your head which may signal that something strange is going on. In addition, always liaise with the daycare director should you have suspicions or concerns, and ask your children lots of questions to get to know the atmosphere at the daycare center.
If you even suspect that abuse has occurred (or is likely to occur) at your child’s daycare, please report it to the proper licensing agency in your state. There’s no harm in reporting your suspicions, but failing to do so could leave other children in harm’s way.