12/20/2014

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KATU Investigators

Why aren't carnivals and fairs required to run worker background checks?

Why aren't carnivals and fairs required to run worker background checks?

HILLSBORO, Ore. -- County fair season is in underway and KATU’s On Your Side Investigators are looking into who’s working around children - and sometimes handling them - at fairs and carnivals.

Neither Oregon nor Washington nor the federal government requires fairs to run criminal background checks on workers.

Because they aren't legally required, there are no standards for when or how checks are performed. That means criminals, including sex offenders, can sometimes slip through.

Butler Amusements, which operates rides at fairs, festivals and carnivals throughout the Northwest, has had big problems recently in Washington, where it hired sex offenders two years in a row.

Dale Roy Fager was arrested last year while working in the kiddie area of the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe. Seattle Police say he'd been downloading and sharing explicit images of children online.

Fager has a lengthy arrest record and was wanted at the time on an outstanding warrant for forgery in Indiana.

From March of 2013 until his arrest in late August, Fager worked for Butler at fairs up and down the West Coast. He told investigators he was at the Washington County Fair last July.

Prosecutors and Butler Amusements say Fager actually was background checked. He passed because they say he used a false name with a false social security card to back it up.

Butler can't confirm where Fager was working last year because they admit they don't keep records of where their employees are at any given time. The company will do background checks on fair workers, but only if they're asked.

In Washington County, the fair requires Butler to background check all their workers for the event, but again, there's no law requiring that, and Fager is not the only sex offender Butler has hired.

On KATU News at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, the On Your Side Investigators will tell you about a number of other disturbing cases they’ve uncovered at fairs in the Northwest, and what happened when they took their findings to state lawmakers.

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