Friday, March 09, 2001

YMCA will expand criminal background checks

Referee was on sex offender list

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati requires criminal background checks for child-care employees. Now it's moving to expand that to all employees and volunteers after a part-time employee was found listed on the Hamilton County sex offender registry.

        The agency serves 2,400 children daily in its child-care programs and 50,000 annually in its athletic programs. Expanding background check requirements is expected within the year, said Jackie Mathews, the Y's communications director.

        “It certainly does make the situation more immediate. It is even a higher priority now,” she said. “We are taking this situation very seriously. It is not acceptable for individuals with a criminal background ... to be employed at the YMCA.”

        Late last month, Y officials learned Steven Veite, 42, of Cincinnati was working as a part-time adult basketball referee at the Richard E. Lindner YMCA in Norwood. Mr. Veite was convicted in 1991 in Florida of committing a lewd act in front of a minor. He became a Y employee in mid-January.

        The Y conducts criminal background checks only on potential child-care employees. Those employees also sign documents agreeing not to be alone with children where they can't be observed, said Rita Collen, the Y's senior executive director for child-care services.

        Mr. Veite last reported to work Feb. 25. He has been suspended pending an internal investigation.

        He filled out a standard application that asked whether he had ever been convicted of a crime but did not answer that question, Ms. Mathews said. “It is part of the internal investigation as to why nobody asked,” she said.

        Employees at the Norwood branch refused comment. Mr. Veite could not be reached.


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