Child porn case prompts review of background checks at schools

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Belfair Elementary School

BELFAIR — A child porn tape that surfaced in Europe in August shocked the small community of Belfair, Wash., and resulted in the arrest of an ex-PTA president.

Federal agents said the video was shot inside the Belfair Elementary School by David Navarro and was then uploaded to the Internet. The FBI arrested Navarro, who is in federal detention while an investigation is underway. District officials are working with the FBI on the case and the school’s superintendent spoke with federal agents Tuesday.

Navarro had passed a Washington State Patrol background check, the superintendent at North Mason School District said; he also passed a federal background check.

But the system that is in place isn’t foolproof: Navarro did have a past that should have come up on somebody’s radar — he had been investigated for child sex crimes in San Diego four years ago, but the charges were dismissed.

WSP said their background checks only contain information from Washington state, and if the investigation of Navarro had happened here instead of California, the school district would not have been given that information since he was not convicted of a crime.

“It’s the way the state laws are written,” Deborah Collinsworth, with WSP, said.

Collinsworth said only law enforcement officers can access criminal charges that don’t result in a guilty verdict and the information background checks reveal can be limited.

“All convictions of criminal history and all arrests under one year old,” she said. “However, if that individual had a DUI that was dismissed.”

Now, the North Mason School District is re-evaluating their system of how they conduct background checks on school volunteers. The district in Belfair plans to use a private company that can provide additional background information, especially for volunteers who haven’t lived in the area for at least three years.

The superintendent hopes to have the added background checks in place by the end of September.

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