Lakeland, Florida -- A Lakeland lawmaker is concerned that child predators work where kids play. Now, Congressman Dennis Ross is proposing a bill that would allow businesses that cater to children to use a polygraph test when interviewing potential employees. It would apply to businesses like theme parks, private schools and churches.
Time after time, local alleged child predators get caught up in sex stings. In a recent Polk County bust earlier this month, investigators arrested: Matthew Tillesen, a teacher; Alen Treaster, a Disney Animal Kingdom concierge; Zachary Spencer, a Disney World ticket supervisor; and Universal Orlando food services worker, Matthew "Cody" Myers.
"Why does there seem to be a greater propensity for sexual predators to work at areas where there are children? Because that's where the children are," says Congressman Ross.
Ross is a former Disney World attorney. He says right now federal law, citing privacy issues and civil liberties, is handcuffing businesses from protecting kids from predators in every way possible. His new bill would allow private companies to give potential employees a lie detector test during the hiring process, if that worker cares for, supervises or has access to children. Ross believes asking the tough questions will uncover possible predators, truthfully trolling for victims.
"To maybe weed out this employee from ever being hired and having a close proximity to children," says Ross.
Right now, polygraphs are not admissible in Florida courts because of inaccuracies. Congressman Ross insists the tests would not be mandatory for employers and doesn't apply to public school teachers, because of state laws. He says candidates would know about the test requirement ahead of time and can see the results.
"We're not trying to invade someone's right to privacy. Understand, when someone wants a job they choose to have that job. When they choose to have that job, they go in knowing there are going to be certain pre-employment requirements, including a polygraph test," says Ross.
Right now, the bill is in committee. Congressman Ross expects it'll come up for debate in the next couple of weeks and hopes to have it passed by November.
You can read the entire bill here: https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4954/text.