Business expert calls Wal-Mart "irresponsible" in hiring sex offender - - Columbia, South Carolina

Business expert calls Wal-Mart "irresponsible" in hiring sex offender

(Richland) April 27, 2006 - A business expert testified Thursday in the civil suit filed by a Midlands mother against Wal-Mart. He said managers had several chances to find out that one of their employees was a convicted sex offender. A clinical psychologist also testified.

Bobby Randall's job application was described in court, "Under rate of pay expected, it's blank. Under the date you can start work it's blank. Under are you 18 years of age or older, nothing is checked."

But Wal-Mart hired Randall anyway, putting him to work at the store on Forest Drive in Columbia.

Business management expert William Anthony says that was the first in a series of Wal-Mart mistakes, "Well, the hiring process did not conform to Wal-Mart's policies. It was very sloppy and irresponsible, the way in which they hired him."

Several years later, Wal-Mart's failure to gather more information on Randall would come back to haunt the retailer. Randall followed a 10-year-old girl through the store, fondling her and himself.

The discount chain is now defending itself in a lawsuit filed by the girl's mother.

In court, the attorney asked Dr. Anthony, "What should have been done with that application?"

Anthony responded, "It should have been rejected. It's quite clear in their policies. And if would have been rejected, we wouldn't be here today. Because he wouldn't have been hired."

The plaintiffs say Wal-Mart could have discovered Randall was a repeat sex offender. He had three convictions for exposing himself, one while he was an employee.

The plaintiffs also say Wal-Mart bungled another chance to head off the assault in the store by failing to act when another woman told a manager Randall had exposed himself to her daughter at a store near the Wal-Mart.

Dr. Anthony says the store did "nothing" to investigate the matter.

The company did not perform a criminal background check on Randall. At the time, those checks were prohibited by company policy.

Wal-Mart attorneys say other stores have similar rules.

A clinical psychologist who examined the victim also testified Thursday. He said that the victim's mental state was still unsettled three years after the incident.

Doctor Paul VanWyke told jurors he first examined the girl three years ago. Back then, he says she was fighting with her mother, her grades were slipping and she was socially isoloated.

VanWyke diagnosed the girl with an adjustment disorder. He says she was constantly reliving the experience.

Randall pleaded guilty four years ago to committing a lewd act on a minor and received a 10-year sentence. He died about six months later in prison after suffering an apparent heart attack.

The plaintiffs are expected to rest their case Friday morning after testimony from the victim's mother.

Reported by Jack Kuenzie with AP

Posted 9:02pm by Chantelle Janelle

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