The headline of a recent article in the online version of The Washington Post screams “Josh Duggar wasn’t the first: How reality TV background checks don’t always uncover serious allegations.” The upshot of the story is to be found in the word “allegations.” Since Duggar has admitted his guilt, that could change the outcome, but not just an allegation of guilt – and that’s the key to the point of this blog.
Later in the story we read, “Federal labor law limits the reporting of arrests that did not result in convictions in the past seven years. State laws get even more convoluted: In California, when investigators look into someone’s criminal history, they are only allowed to tell networks about convictions in the last seven years, but not arrests and police reports.” The article bemoans the fact that background checking companies can’t report allegations to the networks or production companies. Well, imagine that!
Since when, do you suppose, did the mere allegation of wrong doing cause television executives to cancel shows without checking to see if the person accused of wrongdoing was found guilty or not. As egregious as the Post article makes it sound, it is still true that our legal system assumes innocence until guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Just because someone is accused of wrongdoing, in other words, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she did it!
Once again, we can clearly see that too many people assume that an arrest is tantamount to a conviction. Well, it’s not! And there are good reasons why people in the background checking business – at least the ones that know what they’re doing – don’t report mere allegations of wrongdoing.