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Accused Rapist Shawn Wuertley: Background Check, Anyone?

Some people can’t get jobs if they have bad credit. Then there’s accused rapist Shawn Wuertley, age 29 (link goes to his MySpace page).

Wuertley was arrested today in Panama City Beach, Florida for false imprisonment, rape and attempted felony murder.

According to multiple media sources, Wuertley was working as a security guard at the Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort when he dragged an 18-year-old resort guest from Tuscaloosa, Alabama into an unoccupied room on the 6th floor at the resort and raped her. They struggled after the assault as the girl tried to get away. In the process, Wuertley allegedly shoved the victim off a balcony.

The girl fell onto a 2nd floor stairwell. Her injuries were said to be serious but not fatal. Wuertley was questioned by police and allowed to go. He fled, only to be arrested sometime today in Bay County, Florida.

The Panama City News-Herald reports:

[Maj. Dave Humphreys of the Panama City Beach Police Department] said police at the scene began to suspect that Wuertley might have been involved and took him to the police station, where they photographed and questioned him.

“There was not enough information at that point to charge him,” Humphreys said.

He said investigators did not run a criminal history check on Wuertley until after he was released. That’s when investigators discovered the Indiana arrest warrant on a burglary charge.

“We’re certainly checking into why that wasn’t done,” Humphreys said. “It should have been done.”

Wuertley has been running afoul of the law for some time now, you see. He had a long rap sheet from his home state of Indiana, and as recently as 2006 was in a Mooresville, IN correctional facility.

Yes, the police should have run a check on Wuertley as he sat with detectives answering questions — but let’s admit it: the real pressing question is how a guy with Wuertley’s record got a job working security at a beach resort. The real scrutiny should be on hiring practices here, now that police in Bay County (FL) have Wuertley safely behind bars.

There are plenty of jobs, particularly positions involving any kind of security work, that require full, exhaustive background checks. Even bad credit or bankruptcy can torpedo an applicant.

Even if Shawn Wuertley’s prior criminal history was non-violent, the News-Herald reported that it included “burglary, escape, auto theft,” as well as shoplifting and possession of marijuana. There was also an outstanding warrant for burglary in Indiana. How was that missed during the hiring process? No one can convince me that there are that many Shawn Wuertleys from Mooresville, Indiana out there.

Investigators have indicated that Wuertley may have simply lied on his application for the position at the resort.

That’s all it took for him to snag a job? Amazing.

A double failure, and for the family of a young woman from Tuscaloosa, a tragedy. Even though the victim survived the attack, she now may face a lifetime of physical and emotional trauma, the likes of which few of us can imagine.

This post may be revised and updated.

Additional links:

Shawn Wuertley’s Yahoo 360 profile

Discussion of this crime at Websleuths.com