Governor Tom Vilsack says he wants to provide “maximum protection for the children” who visit state-owned facilities. Vilsack’s comments come after a part-time state capitol tour guide was arrested Wednesday and charged with child stealing after he was found with a missing four-year-old in an area of the capitol that was closed to the public. “The good news was that this individual was apprehended very quickly and fortunately no physical harm was done to the child,” Vilsack says.
Vilsack’s now asking whether there have been criminal background checks of the tour guides at Terrace Hill — the governor’s mansion — and the State Historical Building. “If there is significant contact and involvement with youngsters we want to make sure that those who are involved are appropriate for that,” Vilsack says. The governor says he has no jurisdiction over the tour guides at the state capitol.
They’re employees of the legislative branch of government, and Vilsack has asked legislative leaders to ensure there are background checks of the tour guides. “I think it would be a good idea to have background checks whenever you’ve got a circumstance and a situation where children may potentially be involved,” Vilsack says. “It makes sense in a public building like the capitol.”
The 54-year-old Des Moines man who was arrested in this case did not have a criminal record. Vilsack made his comments last night on a radio call-in program on K-U-N-I Public Radio.