12 Investigates: Background checks at county fairs

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The Chesterfield Commonwealths Attorney is investigating how a convicted sex offender got a job at the County Fair after our report.

Robert Pendelton, a performer at the Chesterfield County Fair, was let go after we revealed he's a registered sex offender.

He hosted the fair's lumberjack show, which drew crowds of children and their parents. Neither county, fair officials, nor his employer knew he sexually assaulted a child between the ages of 13 and 15 in Wisconsin 18 years ago.

Private companies are not required to do background checks. It's up to the individual company.

There's no law requiring people be screened at places like county fairs.

Background checks are not cheap either. The federal government often hires investigators to do its background checks on employees.

In Virginia, places like schools, social services, foster care and adoption services are required by law to run a background check. Private companies are not.

In the case of Robert Pendleton, also known as "Crazy Bob," folks from the Chesterfield County Fair tells us they does not screen every worker that steps on their property. They generally leave that up to the employer.

Great Lakes Timber hired Crazy Bob. Company officials told us they did not screen Pendleton but now plan on changing their policy.

A recent study by the Society of Human Resources Management found that fewer employers are using background checks in the hiring process. The number of companies that don't do background checks grew from seven percent to 14 percent in just the last three years.

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