Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Florida Allows Criminals to Work with Children and Elderly

 

 

Sun Sentinel

Trust Betrayed

A Sun Sentinel Investigation

People with criminal histories are allowed to work with Florida's most vulnerable residents.

By Peter Franceschina, Sally Kestin and John Maines

September 29, 2009


More than 8,700 people initially barred from being caregivers due to criminal records have been granted special permission by the state to work with children, the elderly and the infirm, a Sun Sentinel investigation found...

Felons have been allowed to work in day care centers, assisted living facilities and nursing homes through an exemption system created by Florida legislators in 1985...

 

Richard R. Day, a Georgia psychologist, was seeing a patient in 1994 when he unbuttoned her blouse and put his mouth on her breast, according to court records. She went to the police. During her next visit, Day removed his pants and underwear, and police arrested him.

Day pleaded guilty to sexual assault and public indecency and was put on four years of probation. As a result, Georgia officials placed restrictions on Day's psychology license, but he violated them and lost his license in 1997 for "devious, deceitful acts." He was also convicted that year of stalking his ex-wife.

After moving to Florida, Day received a mental health counselor's license from the state Department of Health, saying in his application that he had never been convicted of a crime or had a professional license revoked.

The Sun Sentinel obtained police and court records from Georgia ... "I was scared and nervous, upset," the woman told police. "I thought he was going to rape me, I mean, really."

The detective who arrested Day, Donnie Canada, said in an interview he wouldn't trust Day to counsel women.

"I wouldn't want him anywhere around not just my daughter or relatives, but any female in a professional capacity," he said. "To me it's appalling they would not follow up and call the [prosecutor] or the investigator to find out what happened. That's a failure of the system."

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