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Construction contractor accused of sexually abusing teen girl he knows


by Joe Douglass

NEAR MONMOUTH, Ore. — A local construction contractor has been charged with 16 counts of sex abuse after investigators say he molested a teen girl he knows.

The contractor, Tinitale Makalea, 48, is not accused of committing crimes on the job, but KATU wanted to know what, if any, background checks contractors are required to undergo.

And we found out there are few protections in place for consumers.

Makalea is being held on $1 million bail at the Polk County Jail. More than half of the charges he faces are felonies.

But when you look up his license number on Oregon's Construction Contractors Board (CCB) website, it shows it's still active and that he's faced no disciplinary actions.

Stan Jessup, an enforcement manager for the agency, said contractors can potentially have their licenses suspended or revoked if they're convicted of certain crimes including sex abuse.

At a home in a rural area near Monmouth and another nearby, Makalea is accused of sexually abusing an underage teen from September 2015 through spring of this year.

Investigators say none of the alleged crimes happened while Makalea was doing business as a contractor.

Jessup told KATU that Makalea has held a license since 1996 and there are no complaints about his work.

Jessup admitted contractors do not always undergo criminal background checks. In fact, only contractors who self-report a criminal background on their initial application are checked unless complaints are filed later. And Jessup said contractors are not typically required to undergo checks when they renew their license every two years.

To get some tips on how to properly look into a contractor, KATU contacted a background check expert, Les Rosen.

He's the CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a leading background check company, and he helped found the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

"Background checks are far from perfect," Rosen said. "The first rule is to realize nothing replaces common sense. Have you taken real time to vet the person? Have you called references? Calling references is as important as doing background checks."

Rosen also recommended looking up court records and checking the state police website.

He said for individual consumers often a licensed private investigator is better than going with background check companies, which are typically set up to deal with businesses.

"Just don't assume everyone's wonderful," Rosen said, "and don't assume background checks are perfect."

If you do use a background check company, Rosen recommends hiring one that's accredited by NAPBS.

He also said to make sure to tell contractors you're looking into them.

2016 Jun 23