Nonprofit Apologizes For Knowingly Hiring Child Sex Offender To Work With Sex Assault Victims
Protesters attend a Me Too rally to denounce sexual harassment and assaults of women in Los Angeles, California on November 12, 2017
Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A nonprofit dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence apologized for knowingly hiring a registered sex offender to work with victims.

Vera House, located in Syracuse, New York, employed level two registered sex offender Marcus Jackson to work as a victim advocate, CNY Central reported. Jackson mutually parted ways with the nonprofit at the beginning of August.

“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,” Vera House leaders admitted in a statement issued last week. “That decision was made by two leaders of Vera House’s Advocacy Program and approved by our Executive Director.”

Jackson was hired back in October 2020, when Randi Bregman was serving as the only executive director at the time, CNY Central noted. Bregman has confessed to knowing about Jackson’s 2000 conviction for having sexual contact with two boys, ages 15 and 16, and a 2016 conviction for failing to register as a sex offender as required by Florida law.

Vera House was apparently fine with Jackson’s employment, while stipulating that he not work with victims under 18.

“Jackson was forthcoming about that part of his past,” Vera House admitted. “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.”

A review of his work, though, concluded that Jackson did have contact with at least one minor victim at Vera House last year.

Jackson’s history and employment was uncovered in the press following a complaint from a whistleblower who said the sex offender had contact with victims under 18 years old.

“We regret the decision to hire him and are deeply sorry for the pain and confusion this has caused,” the statement continued. “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.”

“We apologize to the people we serve every day,” the organization said. “We will work diligently to earn their trust and serve them in their hour of need. We can and will do better.”

Vera House leaders said conversations have been opened up with staff and others involved with the nonprofit, adding that the group will “initiate a process to increase transparency as we review our hiring, personnel, and governance policies.”

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