Building A Child Safe Environment Starts With Hiring For Child Safety

Vance Peronto, 63, a former Alaska State Trooper, was convicted by a jury and then sentenced by a judge to eight years in prison, with four years suspended, for child sexual abuse in 2018. Under the terms of the sentence, Peronto will also spend seven years on probation after his release. Upon completing probation, he must register as a sex offender for the next 15 years.

According to the charging documents, Peronto, a trooper with 16 years on the force at the time, met his intended victim in April 2018 during a traffic stop for driving with her headlights off. Despite being aware that the girl was only 16, Peronto exchanged text messages with her in which he offered to be her "personal trooper."

When the online relationship escalated, Peronto allegedly tried to end it because it exposed him to the risk of losing his career. However, the girl's father found the messages and contacted troopers. The Alaska Bureau of Investigation took over the case and arrested Peronto.

Prosecutors said that an investigator posed as the victim and used a social media account to arrange for Peronto to meet "her" at a hotel. Peronto arrived at the hotel in his patrol vehicle on the designated day, with recently purchased women's lingerie. He was arrested and terminated. Chris Klint "Ex-Alaska trooper gets 4 years for planned sexual abuse of teen he pulled over" (Dec. 28, 2023).


Commentary and Checklist


Although the vast majority of public officers, like the troopers in Alaska, are true to their mission "to preserve the peace, enforce the law, prevent and detect crime, and protect life and property," child predators can be found in all walks of life.

According to the Alaska Children's Alliance, "Alaska consistently struggles with some of the highest rates of child abuse and neglect in the nation." And, according to the Alaska Children's Justice Act Task Force, one in seven children born in Alaska will experience an allegation of sexual abuse before they turn 12.

Employers should make certain that employees who work with, around, or who may come into contact with children should pass an extensive background check. Employers should also know that passing a background check does not mean an employee or applicant is safe with children.

What other hiring screening steps could an employer take to help protect children? According to the Department of Justice, the following are red flags to be aware of regarding job applicants:

·  "Failure to complete the screening process

·  History of sexual victimization of children, regardless of whether the individual completed therapy

·  Conviction for any crime in which children were involved, regardless of successful completion of probation or incarceration

·  History of violence or any sexually exploitative behavior, including acts against adults

·  Termination from a paid or volunteer position for misconduct with or involving a child

·  Misleading or inconsistent information or explanation about criminal history, such as arrests or convictions."

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