Despite states’ efforts, measures to protect students from predators sometimes fail
By Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 25, 2010 For nearly three decades, Kevin Ricks exploited gaps in a system that is supposed to keep sexual predators out of the classroom. He landed teaching jobs at one school after another — public and private, urban and rural, domestic and foreign — despite mounting evidence of his troubling personal relationships with male students. The emerging portrait of Ricks as a serial sexual abuser raises questions about why schools continued to hire him and what could have been done to stop him….
Maryland, Virginia and other states have long sought to bolster safeguards for students. They have required criminal background checks for prospective school employees, created tougher penalties for sex crimes committed by educators or others in positions of authority, and given employers liability protections to encourage them to speak candidly during reference checks. Many states also have required school systems to file reports when teachers are convicted of sexual crimes or resign amid allegations of abuse, so that their licenses can be reviewed or revoked.
None of these measures stopped Ricks. He held at least 12 teaching positions from 1982 until his arrest in February at Osbourn High School in Manassas….In 2004, a congressionally mandated study estimated that one in 10 students from kindergarten through 12th grade were victims of some form of sexual misconduct by a school employee — from being told a dirty joke or shown pornography to being inappropriately touched or raped. In 2007, an Associated Press investigation found more than 2,500 teachers nationwide had licenses revoked, suspended or denied from 2001 through 2005 because of sexual misconduct. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/24/AR2010072402589.html
Kevin Ricks’ career as teacher, tutor shows pattern of abuse that goes back decades By Josh White, Blaine Harden and Jennifer Buske
Sunday, July 25, 2010 What teachers, parents, students and even his wife didn’t know was that his journals contained decades of dark secrets, a running handwritten commentary of Ricks’s world of obsession, infatuation, pursuit, sexual abuse and international child exploitation. They didn’t know about his library of homemade pornographic videos and explicit photographs capturing his tequila-soaked sex acts with teenage boys he had handpicked. They didn’t know about the makeshift shrine boxes containing mementos of the episodes, including sex toys, soiled tissues and hair trimmings.
Even some of the victims didn’t know they were victims.
A four-month Washington Post investigation of Ricks’s career as a teacher, tutor, foreign exchange host and camp counselor has revealed a pattern of abuse that dates to at least 1978 and has left a trail of victims spanning the globe. But despite the abuse, Ricks moved from one teaching job to the next over nearly 30 years, navigating the nation’s public and private school systems undetected, evading traps designed to catch him. In some cases, school officials and foreign exchange companies knew of or suspected Ricks’s inappropriate behavior and simply let him go, leaving the next employer with no idea what was coming.