A Dallas family has filed a lawsuit against satellite television provider DirecTV following an incident where a man making a service call at their home was found to be a registered sex offender who took photos of their 12-year-old daughter.
DirecTV claims the man had zero affiliation with the company and was brought to the house by a contractor, who has since been fired for violating company policy, according to a spokeswoman for the company.
The 48-year-old man was arrested as a result of the August 2012 incident.
In October, the man plead guilty to attempted indecency with a child and attempted sexual performance of a child for the pictures he took of the girl. According to legal documents, he was sentenced to four years in prison.
Court documents allege the man went into a room where their 12-year-old daughter was alone. The child is a gymnast and was apparently stretching. The police report indicates that the man asked to take photos of her on his cell phone with her legs in the air.
The man apparently took about five pictures of her and asked the girl to not tell anyone, according to reports.
The girl told her mother who then notified police.
Officers performed a background check on the man and learned that he had been a registered sex offender in Texas since 1998. His phone was confiscated as evidence and a warrant for his arrest was issued months later.
The family apparently tried to contact DirecTV for an explanation as to how this happened but received no response so they decided to sue, seeking between $100,000 and $200,000 in damages. They want to make sure this never happens to other customers.
The company issued a statement saying that DirecTV installation contractors and subcontractors are required to complete a background check before being allowed to perform any installation services.
In the state of Florida, those that are convicted of a felony are restricted from performing certain jobs. In order to work in many sectors, ex-felons must apply for reinstatement of their civil rights. Moreover, most jobs in Florida require criminal background checks.
The potential problem in this case, however, is that the sex offender and the subcontractor are not actually employed by DirecTV. While in most instances employers can be held responsible for the negligence of their employees through what is known as Negligent Retention and Negligent Hiring, the man that the sex offender was accompanying is a contract worker for MasTec Advanced Technologies.
DirecTV noted that “contractors and subcontractors are required to complete a background check before being allowed to perform any installation services.” But, in the state of Florida, many felons are hired before a criminal background check is performed, which could be what happened here. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how this case plays out.