A former school janitor in Baton Rouge accused of raping a 14-year-old girl had several previous brushes with the law, raising questions about how he was able to work around schoolchildren.
Adrian Wright Jr., 31, was booked Tuesday on a count of forcible rape in the Nov. 23, 2013, incident. On that Saturday, Wright allegedly pushed the girl, a student at North Banks Middle School, into a classroom and then raped her. She did not report the incident until months later and had by then transferred to another school. Detectives then spent months investigating before bringing charges, the Sheriff’s Office said.
But Wright already was in state prison by then, eight months into a 10-year sentence for a March 31, 2013, auto theft.
Wright underwent a criminal background screening when he was first hired in summer 2011, but company and school officials say they were not aware of his other arrests before and after that security check.
East Baton Rouge Parish court records show Wright was arrested at least twice before, both in spring 2011. The first arrest, on March 23 of that year, was after he was caught driving a stolen Kleinpeter milk truck down Corporate Boulevard. In the second arrest, he was accused of possession of drug paraphernalia, a crack pipe; the charge was dismissed months later.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III said late Thursday that he is aware of at least one more arrest of Wright from the state of California but could not recall the details. Moore said he also plans to look further into what happened with the charge prompted by Wright driving the stolen milk truck.
Wright started working as a school janitor for the East Baton Rouge Parish school system in summer 2011. He worked for a janitorial company in Baker called Millennium Consulting Network, which in turn works for Aramark, a large Philadelphia-based private company that handles maintenance and repairs for the parish school system.
Aramark spokeswoman Karen Cutler said Aramark, as part of its contract with the school system, is required to make sure criminal background checks are completed on its own employees, as well as those employed by subcontractors like Millennium, if they work around children. She said they are the same background checks that teachers undergo and they include a fingerprint check by State Police.
Cutler said Millennium screened Wright when it hired him at the start of the 2011-12 school year and the screen came up clean.
“He had no crimes on record,” Wright said.
Cutler said Aramark conducts quarterly reviews of the payroll records of its subcontractors, examining, among other things, whether background checks were completed. In mid-2013, the company added another step, requiring those who oversee these records to sign affidavits attesting to their accuracy, Cutler said.
Cutler, however, noted that Louisiana law specifically bars from being employed at schools people convicted of certain crimes, particularly sexual crimes and crimes involving children, but allows employer discretion when it comes to other offenses.
Keith Bromery, spokesman for the school system, said school officials are beginning their own after-the-fact review.
“As in any situation like this, we’ll look back into it to see if there’s any lessons to be learned,” Bromery said.
Will Campbell Jr., owner of Millennium Consulting Network, did not return phone messages Wednesday and Thursday seeking comment. Campbell also works as director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University.
Cutler said Aramark continues to use Millennium, one of several minority- and women-owned businesses it employs.
The company lists its business address as 13910 Plank Road in Baker. That’s also the home of The Tabernacle, a church where Campbell serves as pastor.
Wright’s employment with Millennium ended on Dec. 1, 2013, a few days after the rape. For the next two days, Wright stood trial for auto theft and was convicted.
At his sentencing, Wright wrote a short letter to the court pleading for leniency. He blamed his addiction to crack cocaine, saying he’d had a relapse and needed to go through rehab. He said he knew better than to steal that truck in March 2013. He noted he was providing for a pregnant wife and two kids and that his mother is a Baton Rouge police officer.
“Not blaming anyone but myself,” he wrote, “but I know that in my correct frame of mind it would never have happened.”
Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was modified on Dec. 12, 2014, to remove a reference incorrectly indicating Wright had posted $100,000 bail on the rape count. He did not post bail. The Advocate regrets the error.