In September 2011, 67-year old Edward Lee Hartley, a high school softball umpire, was accused of sexually abusing two girls in Phoenix, Arizona. It was soon discovered that Hartley withheld his criminal record, involving sexual abuse crimes dating back to 1973. Since Hartley was never added to the National Sexual Offender Registry, he evaded detection during a background check when he applied to the Arizona Softball Association. Apart from Hartley, who seems to display a “Jerry Sandusky-esque” skill in evasion, this issue raises important concerns by parents and families around the state of Arizona.
In reaction, the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) will continue to conduct periodic criminal-record checks as well as implement fingerprinting as part of the background check process for all applicants. Harold Slemmer, director of the AIA, has announced that fingerprinting will be a requirement and the applicant will be responsible to cover the cost for the procedure.
Many proponents of this new requirement have applauded the AIA in their “swift” action to rectify the issue of screening applicants thoroughly. “I applaud them for doing it,” Michael Fowler, athletic director for the Glendale Union High School District explained. “The safety of our students is of foremost importance.”
While the action taken by the Arizona Interscholastic Association addresses the immediate issue, it does not rectify a long-term solution to the safety of our children. Sex offenders and criminals will continue to access our children’s schools and parks even with a fingerprint background check.
Access the full Arizona High-School Referee Fingerprinting Enacted article here.
Marie J. Cacciatore is a second year law student at Phoenix School of Law and clerk for Gregg R. Woodnick, PLLC.