Houston Public Library is on damage control after it was learned their staff did not conduct a background check of one of their volunteers before allowing him to read books to children.
That man is 32-year-old Albert Alfonso Garza, who was previously charged for sexually assaulting a child. Garza helped volunteer in September of 2018, the Daily Caller reports.
“Garza was charged with child sexual assault involving a victim records show was under the age of 14 in 2008,” per the report.
According to the report, Garza helped the library during a segment called “Drag Queen Story Time,” which is supervised by the library staff and sometimes the parents of the children.
Houston Public Library responded to the finding with the following apologetic statement:
We were made aware today that one participant for Drag Queen storytime who read at the September 29, 2018, Drag Queen Storytime has a criminal background that should have prevented him from participating in the program.
We assure you that this participant will not be involved in any future HPL programs.
In our review of our process and of this participant, we discovered that we failed to complete a background check as required by our own guidelines. We deeply regret this oversight and the concern this may cause our customers. We realize this is a serious matter.
Every program sponsored by HPL is supervised by HPL staff, and all children are accompanied by a parent and/or guardian. No participant is ever alone with children, and we have not received any complaints about any inappropriate behavior by participants at storytimes.
We are taking the appropriate action to ensure that the status of every participant in every program throughout our system is verified. We will continue to review our process to ensure that this cannot happen again.
Once again, we apologize for our failure to adhere to our own process in this matter and to the hundreds of parents and caregivers who have enjoyed this program with their children.
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.