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Walsh calls for accountability and transparency from Vera House

Vera House, which is known for fighting domestic and sexual abuse, has come under fire recently for hiring a registered level two sex offender as a victim advocate.

The former employee, Marcus Jackson, underwent a standard background check, which went back 10 years. It did not pick up the fact that Jackson served prison time in 1998 for having sexual contact with two boys.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is calling for accountability and transparency in the days to come.

"The hiring was a big mistake, and it hurt a lot of people, both directly and indirectly,” said Walsh. “It's important that all of us, but particularly the board of directors at Vera House and the leadership listen to those that they serve, listen to those that they have served."

Walsh said the aftermath will involve a healing process for the entire community, and he hopes Vera House can move forward in a way that instills confidence in their work again.

As part of that process, Vera House Co-Executive Director Randi Bregman resigned. Walsh said he has spoken with Bregman personally and calls her a good person who has done very good work for many years in the community.

"I believe she took that action to step down because she believed it was in the best interest of the organization and the people that they serve,” said Walsh. “So I'm hopeful with that action, the organization can move forward and can continue to provide those very important services to those that need them."

In the wake of its recent hiring scandal, Vera House decided to cancel its annual gala. In a statement announcing the cancellation, Vera House Foundation trustees said now is not a time to celebrate. “It is a time for reflection, for sensitivity to clients, for humility and for humanity. It is the time to support the leadership, staff, and services at Vera House. It is a time to regain trust.”

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.