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Unacceptable! Nonprofit Organization Dedicated To Sex Assault Victim Intentionally Hired a Sex Offender

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A nonprofit organization dedicated to helping victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse recently admitted to hiring a sex offender intentionally. Vera Hose employed Marcus Jackson, a registered sex offender, to work with their organization as a victim advocate in October 2020. The leaders at Vera House knew he was a level 2 sex offender yet hired him to advocate for victims. 

The executive director at the time Jackson was hired knew about Jackson’s 2000 conviction for having sexual contact with two boys. He knew that Jackson was convicted for failing to register as a sex offender.  

The House was okay with employing him but stated that he would not be assigned to work with minors. Vera House issued a statement admitting this. 

We did not make staff aware of the facts surrounding Mr. Jackson’s background when he was hired and they had no role in his employment. That decision was made by two leaders of Vera House’s Advocacy Program and approved by our Executive Director.”

The statement added, “Jackson was forthcoming about that part of his past. As a result of this knowledge, there were safeguard procedures in place to prevent contact with a minor, based on our commitment to protect such a vulnerable population.”

However, former Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler ran a background check on Jackson. It was found that he was not totally forthcoming about this past to Vera House. More so, Vera House failed to do due diligence concerning a check which is over a decade old.

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In addition, a statement was released last week where they admitted that Jackson had contact with minors after whistleblowers exposed this to the press. 

The statement adds, “We regret the decision to hire him and are deeply sorry for the pain and confusion this has caused. Our staff deserve to work in a safe, transparent environment. They are rightfully proud of the work they do and news about Mr. Jackson’s history distracts from the important services these professionals provide.”

Following this development, Vera House was found to be a violator of special conditions which must be followed to receive funding from the state and federal governments. 

The Office of Victim Services has also required Vera House to make a refund of the $64,537 used to fund Jackson’s position and his other expenses in the organization. 

In addition, the Office for Victims of Crime was contacted to work on this case, and the Department of Justice would head an investigation into the violations. 

Some expected punishments might include withholding awards funds and suspending grant awards if found guilty of some violations. Over $1 million of the nonprofit’s funding is now subject to the violation of the special conditions, which is being investigated.

Vera House added, “We have been working with OVS on this investigation and respect the process. We remain committed to fully cooperate in whatever ways are necessary. We continue to focus our attention on how to put in place processes to ensure that something like this never happens again.