C.A.U.S.E. Worth Fighting For


C.A.U.S.E. Worth Fighting For

After her sister’s murder, woman works to protect others

By Kristen Hare

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nine years ago, a young woman hired a major department store to have her air ducts cleaned.

Sue Weaver was a smart, creative woman who started an embroidery digitizing company. The St. Joe native lived in Orlando, Fla.

Later, Weaver’s sister, Lucia Bone, found Weaver’s planner. She’d written: “Must be out of house,” on the day the two men came to clean the ducts. Bone suspects she wasn’t. Maybe she was working in her garden.

It didn’t matter, because the two men who had full access to her home that day, to the doors and locks and windows, were both convicted felons. One was a paroled sex offender, twice convicted. Six months later, Weaver was raped and murdered in her home by that same man. The night that man was arrested, Weaver’s mother Googled his name and learned everything about him the company had not. He was extremely dangerous. Violent toward women. And an AC repair man.

“Are you kidding me?” Bone says. “Google?”

Out of the anger and grief of the loss of her sister’s life, Bone started Sue Weaver C.A.U.S.E., a nonprofit that stands for Consumer Awareness of Unsafe Service Employment.

“It’s a grass-roots movement,” Bone says. “Either businesses really get it and they want to do better than they’re doing or they just kind of turn their heads and say, ‘I don’t want to know.’”

The ultimate goal is for criminal background checks to be done on any people who do work in the home.

According to its Web site, www.sue weavercause.org, C.A.U.S.E. is working on a few ways of getting there, including public awareness, educating employers on the “moral and legal obligations of criminal background checks and how they work,” advocating for legislation at every level and certification through C.A.U.S.E.

But for now, the bulk of the responsibility falls on the consumer.

“You really need to ask questions and be sure you know who’s coming to your house,” says Weaver’s mother, Millie Weaver, 86, of St. Joseph.

For instance, if a company says they’re bonded and insured, that doesn’t mean they do criminal background checks on employees. It means they have insurance. Also, find out if they use subcontractors. Just because you use a major company, like Sue Weaver did, doesn’t mean they vet the people that actually end up in your home.

“Sue thought she was hiring a dependable company,” Millie Weaver says. “But they subcontracted out and the subcontractors didn’t do any criminal background checks and actually sent two felons to her house.”

Some tips:

• When having someone come into your home, Bone recommends having another adult there with you.

• Kids don’t count. In fact, they can make you more vulnerable.

• Just because a company is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau doesn’t mean they do criminal background checks. That’s not a requirement.

• Do your research online and see what complaints are out there from other customers. • And finally, if someone arrives and you don’t feel safe, don’t let them in.

Ultimately, C.A.U.S.E.’s goal is to be the gold-standard that signals which businesses have taken care of their customers’ safety. Though the certification process is still in its beginning stages, the goal is to have a national database of companies who have been certified by performing annual criminal background checks on all employees, including subcontractors.

But the real push has to come from consumers, Bone says. “We need women to say, ‘I’m not going to do business with you until you’re C.A.U.S.E. certified.’”

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Now, years after the loss of her daughter, Millie Weaver is proud of the work C.A.U.S.E. is doing to stop something like this from happening to someone else’s daughter.

“They’re trying very hard to make everyone aware of what can happen with people that come to your home for services if the company hasn’t done criminal background checks,” she says.

It may be more work, calling around, asking questions, getting answers. But it’s nothing compared to the loss of a life. “If they’d only done background checks,” Bone says, “Sue would still be alive.”


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