The board of the Listening Ear has apologized to the community for a recent controversy in which sex offenders served as volunteers – a role that put them in a position to help sexual assault victims.
In a statement released by the group, the board apologizes to the community and their volunteers alike.
“We have seen our community torn apart upon learning that we did not previously implement background checks,” the statement says. “We hear the concerns and value the input. We will continue to work with the community to help restore the faith that the greater Lansing area has placed in us for almost half a century.”
The move comes after weeks of criticism, in which many local organizations stopped referring people to the mid-Michigan crisis counseling service. Others threatened to pull their funding.
Listening Ear officials say they did not used to perform background checks on volunteers – a decision that has since been changed.
The group also previously refused to apologize for their practices.
The controversy also prompted a state lawmaker to put forward a bill that requires groups like the Listening Ear to prevent sex offenders from counseling victims of sexual assault.
The Listening Ear’s Statement is as follows:
On behalf of the organization, The Listening Ear’s Board of Directors would like to apologize to the Lansing community for the distress they have felt. We apologize to the individuals who were triggered and to community members for the anger and loss of trust they have experienced. We also want apologize to the volunteers who previously had not known about the registered sex offenders volunteering on our crisis line. We value everything that each volunteer gives to the organization and the countless hours they dedicate to serve our clients. We have seen our community torn apart upon learning that we did not previously implement background checks. We hear the concerns and value the input. We will continue to work with the community to help restore the faith that the greater Lansing area has placed in us for almost half a century.