By Michael Fitzpatrick
The gloves have come off in North Ridgeville’s mayoral race.
Challenger Terry Murray said during a Candidate Night event at O’Neill Healthcare North Ridgeville on Sept. 29 that he would like to see the city institute mandatory criminal background checks on all city employees.
Murray made the comment in reference to a 2006 rape that occurred at the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Charles Ralston, who is the father of two of Mayor Dave Gillock’s grandchildren, was eventually convicted of the rape and the city ended up paying $240,000 to the victim to settle a civil law suit that stemmed from the attack.
Murray was discussing overall safety in the city when he mentioned the need for the mandatory background checks, first stating the need for the city to salt and plow roads in the winter, before moving on to the need for the criminal background checks.
“Another way of safety is for better hiring practices by requiring criminal background checks,” Murray said. “Not only for the safety of our existing employees, but to help save the city on future liabilities, like we’ve seen in the past.”
Murray never specifically mentioned the rape during his public comments, but did so when asked by a reporter afterward why he would like to see mandatory criminal background checks. Murray said if the city had done a background check on Ralston it would have shown he had a history of domestic violence charges. Ralston was working with the victim on an overnight shift when the rape occurred and the two were the only ones in the building at the time.
“He (Gillock) didn’t do one on him (Ralston) and it cost the city a quarter of a million dollars. If the background check had been done it would have found he (Ralston) has domestic violence like seven times and they wouldn’t have hired him to begin with,” Murray said.
Gillock said the city did do a background check on Ralston and nothing came up that would have precluded him from bring hired.
“We did a background check on him and he had a couple of misdemeanors,” Gillock said.
However, according to documents from a State of Ohio Supreme Court ruling involving the civil lawsuit filed against the city in connection with the rape, which was ultimately settled by the city paying out a $240,000 settlement to the victim, the city did not do a background check on Ralston because the city only does them for jobs that involve security or leadership.
Gillock, in response to questions about Ralston, took aim at Murray’s own personal record, which includes a bankruptcy and foreclosures.
Gillock said that if Murray wanted to “get personal there are a lot things we can bring up about his bankruptcies and foreclosures, if you want to go down that path.”
As for the subject of criminal background checks for new hires in the city, Gillock said the city does conduct them, even though it’s not required to do so.