You cannot let this happen in your church!

Why full compliance with AB 506 is critical

Max H Herr

7/11/20222 min read

On April 14, 2022, a former president of USA Softball was arrested by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department on a felony criminal warrant that charged 61-year-old John Gouveia with eight counts of lewd and lascivious conduct following the sexual abuse of a minor girl under the age of 14. He was released the same day on a bail bond in the amount of $250,000. News of the arrest was released on July 5 by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

Between 1991 and 2019, Gouveia worked for the National Governing Council for Girls’ Softball in the United States, which included extensive travel throughout the United States as well as internationally as a Commissioner of USA Softball of Northern California and as president of USA Softball. Although the victim was not associated with USA Softball or the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, where Gouveia worked for 25 years until his retirement as general manager in 2016, there is always the possibility of numerous other incidents of sexual abuse which could have occurred.

“Preferrential offenders” – those who target individuals of a specific age and gender – are routinely discovered to have been operating “under the radar” of law enforcement for many years, even several decades, without ever being arrested, and the number of victims can easily be in the hundreds . . . or more. In a statement issued by USA Softball on July 5, it was stressed that the organization discovered the arrest of its former president “for the first time today through local media outlets” and that the organization “has reported the allegations to the U.S. Center for SafeSport and to the Sacramento County Child Protective Services.”

Would compliance with AB 506 have prevented the sexual abuse that led to the arrest? Not necessarily, because this was apparently Gouveia’s first such arrest (and the actual offense might have happened prior to January 1, 2022). But when staff and volunteers are effectively screened, properly trained, policies and procedures are implemented and monitored, and all staff and child-facing volunteers have been Live Scanned, a subsequent arrest for any offense that results in an individual’s fingerprinting by a law enforcement agency in California will result in a church’s (or “youth services organization’s”) Custodian of Record automatically receiving a “subsequent arrest notification” from the California Department of Justice when the individual's fingerprints are matched to a previous submission under its unique ORI number. This gives the church an opportunity to evaluate the situation and separate a possible offender from the children if warranted.

Church & Ministry Compliance Consulting has been partnered with the MinistrySafe organization since 2017 and encourages all churches and ministries that have contact with children under age 18 to explore the MinistrySafe website to gain a better understanding of the subject of Child Sexual Abuse and Prevention and how churches can effectively protect their precious children. The threat of sexual abuse by an offender unknown to the church is small in comparison to that of the possibility of an offender within the church. If you are not using a "skillful screening" process to vet staff members and volunteers, you are not meeting the new "Standard of Care" required by AB 506.

If your church has not yet begun the process of obtaining an “ORI number” by submitting an application to the California Department of Justice, it is now more than 6 months behind the curve and must act immediately! Failure to comply can lead to the loss of your church’s liability insurance protection and other serious consequences. For more information and a complete packet of resources, including the DOJ application, simply use the “Contact Us” form to send a request for the information. Or give us a call at 909.618.4841. We’re here for you 24/7.