Child porn charges raise questions on hiring policy

One of the men facing child pornography charges has worked as an educational assistant at Teslin’s elementary school.

One of the men facing child pornography charges has worked as an educational assistant at Teslin’s elementary school.

John Cafferata was allegedly found with “a collection of printed photographs of naked female children,” according to court documents.

He allegedly possessed 17,000 digital images on his personal computer and had written material describing violent and sexual assaults on children, said the documents, which were filed on September 10.

Last week, RCMP charged the 54-year-old with possessing and accessing child pornography.

Yukon government reps have refused to comment on Cafferata’s work at the school and his current status as an employee.

They said they could not discuss personnel issues.

But the affair has raised questions about the Yukon government’s screening policies for those hired to work with children.

All government employees hired under the Yukon Education Act are required to pass a security clearance, said Christie Whitley, an assistant deputy minister in the Education department.

“We have a very high level of clearance — what’s called a level three clearance — and this kind of check reveals whether an individual has ever been pardoned or investigated for a crime involving children,” said Whitley.

“It’s pretty rigorous.”

The Education department’s volunteers in the schools policy states people in any position of authority over a student must also consent to a criminal record check, according to the department’s website.

Does the government have a response to the charges against Cafferata?

“We can’t discuss personnel issues,” answered Whitley.

“If any employee is charged with a crime, the department would conduct its own investigation,” said Whitley.

And each case is handled on a case-by-case basis.

Officials at the Teslin school could not be reached for comment.

The community recently held a meeting to discuss the issue.

“There were concerns, but they know it’s being handled,” said Whitley.

“They are very comfortable with how things are being handled.”

Cafferata was released on bail earlier this week.

Records state he must comply with the following conditions:

He is not to be in the company of anyone under 14, and must not be found in any public place including schools, pools, playgrounds, daycares and community centres where people under the age of 14 might be.

He must report to a bail officer and notify of any change in address or employment.

He must report to the Teslin RCMP when he arrives or leaves the community.

And he is not to possess any computer system, electronic communication device, or cellphone, and he is not to access the internet for any reason.

A second man was also charged in connection with the national child pornography investigation.

Sixty-year-old Brian George Nowazek, of Whitehorse, was also charged with one count of possession and one count of accessing child pornography.

Nowazek was also charged with 19 firearms offences including seven counts of unauthorized possession of a firearm, five counts of unauthorized possession of a prohibited firearm and five counts of contravening firearm storage regulations.

Police seized computers at both the Whitehorse and Teslin residences and sent them to the RCMP technical crime unit in BC for forensic examination.