As Sen. Susan Collins makes a difficult decision about Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s qualifications for the Supreme Court, I am reminded of a difficult employment decision I had to make several years ago.

I was then the owner and director of an all-girls summer camp in New England. Shortly before camp opened one June, I had to fill a position in my maintenance department after a longtime employee was injured and could not perform his duties.

I called Mr. X, someone who had previously worked on our spring work crew. He was personable, a hard worker, got along well with the other spring work crew members, had a solid resume and had passed a standard background check. Nor was his name on the national public website of sex offenders. I offered him the job, and he accepted.

One day later – and two days before the campers arrived – I received a phone call from someone with a local number who said she was one of Mr. X’s relatives. She knew he had worked for me in the spring, and that he had just been offered a job for the full summer. She told me he had molested two girls in their extended family and felt I ought to know about this before the campers arrived. She would not give me her name and did not want me to say anything about this to Mr. X.

I thus had what I considered to be a credible accuser (she knew his exact position vis-à-vis his hiring status at my camp) who had no motive to report this to me, other than concern for campers whom she didn’t even know. However, I had no corroborating evidence of her account.

After much thought, I retracted my previous offer to Mr. X. What would you have done?

Phil Steele


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