Policies change at boys home | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Policies change at boys home

William Ferchland

Following the arrest of Al Bonadonna on molestation charges, Tahoe Turning Point changed policies related to social workers and the children they have in their care.

For instance, no longer do adults spend the night with children before a court hearing far from the Lake Tahoe Basin, according to Rich Barna, the agency’s executive director. It can mean long drives to and from places such as Lake County.

In addition, social workers won’t be living on the same premises as the clients. Bonadonna lived in a downstairs, but separate, unit of a Tahoe Turning Point home.

Barna said the reported sexual molestation by Bonadonna on a 14-year-old boy “eats me up. Just makes me sick.”

Many South Shore agencies employ adults to work with children. One organization, Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, has about 50 adult volunteers who mentor 150 juveniles, both male and female, going through the court process.

Case Manager Wendy David said all volunteers undergo a thorough background check against arrest records, Department of Motor Vehicles and FBI databases. In addition, a CASA volunteer is evaluated by a psychiatrist.

“Volunteers do spend time with the youth and they need to be absolutely trusted,” David said. “We want to provide that consistent person in their lives that can be a really good role model for them.”

David knew Bonadonna, accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old in his care, and was shocked by his suicide. She wished the allegations were something CASA wouldn’t have to go through.

“I certainly hope it’s something that we never, never, ever experience,” she said.

At the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, adults undergo a Department of Justice and FBI background check. Also, until now, adults would be checked against Choice Point, which was recently hacked. Choice Point would provide other details such as changes in address.

Background checks are conducted yearly, said Executive Director DeAnne Hooper.

South Tahoe National Little League will use Rapsheets.com for instant background checks this year, according to Joby Cefalu, Little League president. In years prior, a Douglas County sheriff’s officer sat on the board and conducted the background checks, Cefalu said.

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