When 88-year-old Sammie Berry’s family moved the wheelchair-bound Alzheimer’s patient to the Kaufman Healthcare Center in Kaufman, Texas, they expected that she would be in a safe environment, attended by a caring staff. What she received, according to news reports, was physical abuse at the hands of a certified nurse aid, James Seaton.

Mr. Seaton told a CBS 11 reporter Jack Fink that Ms. Berry’s injuries were the result of “a terrible accident.” According to CBS 11’s report, “Kaufman police claim Seaton tried to conceal the truth, and tried to blame someone else.”

According to the CBS 11 interview, Mr. Seaton claimed “I wasn’t trying to blame them.  I was hurt, and too afraid to come forward.”

Imperative Information Group conducted a background check on Seaton and found that he has a lengthy criminal history, including:

  • 1999 misdemeanor conviction for evading arrest.
  • 2000 felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance (for which he was spent four years on probation).
  • 1996 conviction for driving while license suspended.
  • 2009 conviction for not having liability insurance.
  • 2011, 2012, and 2013 convictions for issuance of bad checks.
  • An active arrest warrant from 2012 for driving with an invalid license.

Texas law requires that facilities conduct background checks through the state’s notoriously incomplete criminal records and prohibits the employment of individuals as nurse aids if they have any of 32 listed offenses, including homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, and Medicaid fraud. Texas law did not prevent the the Kaufman Healthcare Center from hiring Mr. Seaton, even with his felony drug conviction, but neither did it limit the Center from applying more robust criteria in their evaluation of Mr. Seaton’s fitness for this position.

One might look at Mr. Seaton’s criminal history and note that many of the offenses, with the exception of the felony drug conviction, are relatively minor and not related to the nurse aid role into which he was hired. However, Mr. Seaton’s criminal history shows fifteen years of, at best, poor judgement leading to consistent trouble with the law.

This is not a history that recommends Mr. Seaton to work in a patient care environment, particularly one in which very vulnerable patients would be relying on him to ensure their health and safety.

Employer Lesson:

Imperative recommends that employers always review applicants’ criminal histories not only for obviously disqualifying offenses but also for patterns of behavior that suggest problems with the indivdual’s character, safety, or responsibility. Remember, past behavior predicts future behavior!