Dina’s attorney wasted no time in referring the solopreneur to a professional investigator. In the initial meeting she explained the situation:
She had been a solopreneur in her accounting firm for almost five years. Her firm was growing and she started to entertain the idea of adding a partner. When Brett walked through the door looking for a job, it was like he was tailor-made to fit right in with the firm and clientele she had targeted. He was smart, technically proficient, and charming. She hired him on the spot during his first interview.
After several months and pretty fast growth, Dina decided to expand and hire an office manager to help manage the growth. Brett suggested his mother, who had just recently retired from a full-time career and just wanted something to keep her busy. Just like Brett, Martha was perfect and fit right in.
The business was growing and both Dina and clients were happy. The staff was close and often socialized together. One day, Allie, one of the junior accountants, asked to talk with Dina privately.
During the conversation, Allie said that during an evening out with the group, Brett has given her a drug and tried to take advantage of her sexually. Dina could hardly believe it, but she thanked Allie for her courage and candor and told her she would keep her confidence and investigate. As soon as Allie left the office, Dina called her attorney. The attorney immediately referred her to investigators.
The kind of behavior that Brett allegedly presented is most commonly a habitual pattern, not a one-time event. Investigations today are more than following someone and taking pictures. They can be complex and often are multi-pronged. In this case, there were four aspects:
- Immediately a plan was developed for covert surveillance. Because the accusation tinged on criminal activity, investigators were sure to use surveillance equipment and collect evidence following evidence collection protocols. If needed in court, the evidence would be admissible.
- Brett’s office computer was brought in for a computer forensic examination. Because it belonged to the firm, Dina was able to provide permission for the computer forensic analysis. Again, professional protocols were used along with data mining software to get the best results during the forensic computer investigation.
- The third leg of the investigation was to learn as much as possible about Brett’s past. Dina was beating herself up for not conducting due diligence on him as she normally would have in the past. Employment background checks are always a good idea, especially when you consider making someone a partner.
- To find out more about Brett, a background investigation, including a criminal background search was started. In addition, investigators began an online investigation, connecting with Brett through social media.
Information was building up on Brett and then Dina got a request to talk privately from another employee, Anna. The story she told was similar. The one thing Dina was grateful for was that both girls had been able to ward off his advances. But it made her wonder if the other two female employees had been approached as well.
The outcome made possible by the investigation
With sufficient evidence to support the girl’s claims, Dina and her attorney confronted Brett. At first he denied it, but then faced with the evidence, he admitted his actions. He agreed to resign. At first, his mother didn’t believe the facts of the situation, but once he confessed and shared the evidence, she had no alternative but to believe him, and also resign.
Because Dina had evidence and facts at her side when she confronted him, there was no option but for him to confess. Dina and her attorney had prevented a he said/she said situation proactively.
In the end, Dina’s employees were grateful for the openness Dina exhibited in believing them and the action she took to prevent it from happening again, protecting them in their workplace and even in part of their social life.
Dina said she learned to vet every potential hire thoroughly. She realizes that there may always be facts hidden, but she knew she would have experts conducting the background checks and her due diligence would illuminate potential red flags.
Whenever you, and your business, are in a situation where facts and evidence are critical, hire professionals who will know how to get to the truth of the matter. Make your first call!
-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations, All in Investigations