NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Now Hiring Sex Offenders
McDonald's Restaurants Hire Child Molesters, Sex Offenders
(Story created: 5/1/06)
Kids love to eat at McDonald's, and it's the first job for lots of teenagers. But a three-month NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered dozens of sex offenders working under the golden arches. Some of them are child molesters.
Our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams uncovered the problem right here in Middle Tennessee and followed it across the country.
Click here to read the first statement from McDonald's corporate office about the allegations in this story. Click here to read a statement from a Tennessee McDonald's franchise owner regarding the incident that occurred in Franklin.
The federal government has sued McDonald’s franchises in Arizona, Arkansas and New Mexico for failing to protect teens from sex harassment and assault. Click a state to read more about these cases.
Some viewers have asked how they can contact McDonald's regarding this story. Click here to do so.
No company has attracted children more successfully than McDonald's.
"They tout their environment as being safe and kid friendly."
It's a message delivered through its commercials, its products, even its kid-friendly spokesman.
"You always think of Happy Meals, the playground, the golden arch, Ronald McDonald."
By some estimates, 96 percent of all American children recognize Ronald McDonald -- second only to Santa Claus.
And the company boasts that Ronald's Play Places make it the world's largest operator of children's playgrounds.
"And it's a mecca, it's a magnet apparently for child molesters."
Customer Thomas Wesley says, "The last thing you expect is somebody who's a monster working behind the counter."
But when Wesley visited a McDonald's in Franklin, Tennessee, that's just what he says he discovered: a sex offender -- convicted of soliciting sex from a minor -- who'd also approached him for sex in a public park.
"Right when I saw him, I thought, 'Oh, God that's the same guy that told me he worked at a McDonald's and I knew was a pedophile," Wesley recalls.
Probation officers had rated Nicholas Aloyo as a "high-risk" to commit new sex crimes -- and the judge released him on condition that he accept "no employment ... in contact with minors."
The local franchise concedes Aloyo had worked at this McDonald's for some time prior to his recently being rearrested for possession of child pornography.
"It certainly makes you wonder," Wesley says, "how many other people may be working at McDonald's that have the same record."
In fact, our investigation discovered -- all across the country -- sex offender after sex offender after sex offender working under the golden arches.
Among them: convicted child molester Oliver Marsh, a high-risk offender.
Add to that: eight other McDonald's workers we found listed on that state's sex offender registry.
A twice-convicted rapist and child molester in Indiana, we discovered, heads a list of some 13 McDonald's employees on the sex offender registry.
Another convicted child molester in Alaska is among 14 McDonald's workers -- sex offenders -- who've been listed on that state's registry.
And a convicted molester and child pornographer in Louisiana leads a list of 16 sex offenders who, the state's registry says, work at McDonald's.
And the types of offenders we found -- child molesting, molestation of a juvenile, sexual abuse of a minor, rape -- surprised Jody Gorran, founder of the National Foundation to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and a leading proponent of background checks.
"We are talking dozens and dozens of sex offenders - mainly from just four states that report the employers names," Phil Williams tells Gorran.
"Unbelievable," he replies. "I mean this is outrageous. It tells me that this is a nationwide problem."
NewsChannel 5 also found two sex offenders in New Mexico who report that they work at McDonald's.
Gorran says the problem is that sex offenders, especially child molesters, are driven by impulses that never completely go away.
"The predator wants to get near a child. He will do anything he can."
"And McDonald's is a pretty good place to do it?" Williams asks.
"Without a doubt. And he gets paid for it."
McDonald's says it has a policy against hiring sex offenders at its 8,000 or so company owned stores.
But at the 18,000 franchise stores that operate under the golden arches, they're free to hire anyone they want.
And inside Ronald's restaurants, those policies have sometimes turned tragic.
A Colorado McDonald's hired child molester Martin Vasquez. There, in 1989, Vasquez molested a 3-year-old boy after pulling him into a restroom.
And an Indiana McDonald's hired Andrew Morris, an ex-con who had sexually assaulted a teen girl. In 2003, he threatened to kill and assaulted a 16-year-old female co-worker. (Read the allegations in the lawsuit).
And get this: Morris was rehired at another area McDonald's after serving his time.
"It boggles the mind," Gorran says, "because it's obviously one thing not to do a background check and have someone slip through. It's another thing to know that the person has a criminal history and allow them back."
In Aloyo's case, the local franchisee will only say he never should have been hired, but they won't comment on whether they conducted even the most basic background check.
Wesley says it was easy.
"I looked up the sex offender registry - and his picture's right up there."
With McDonald's claiming it's got children's best interests in mind, advocates say it's a situation that goes against everything the company says it stands for.
Gorran says, "The face of McDonald's is Ronald McDonald, not Mr. McPredator."
The franchisees are not required to do background checks, and a statement sent to use by McDonald's suggest the corporation may not always do background checks.
In fact, we can't tell you how many other child molesters or other sex offenders are working at McDonald's restaurants here in Tennessee or anywhere else.
That's because in most states, including Tennessee, sex offender registries don't have information about employers.
So the public can't find out -- until something bad happens.