Rassool Hassan Williams was sentenced to life in prison by an Ohio judge after his conviction for fatally shooting a man in Stuebenville, OH. At sentencing, Williams told the judge he did not think it was fair that he was getting a life sentence despite 25 prior arrests ranging from weapons possession to driving with a suspended license, from drug trafficking to murder.
Looking at his rap sheet, New Rochelle residents might wonder how it is fair the the District chooses to expose children to a career criminal like Williams, in and out of jail regularly for 19 years, or how a man like Williams ever managed to pass the supposedly rigorous background check required by the City School District of New Rochelle. Rassool Hassan Williams worked for the New Rochelle School District in the Buildings & Grounds Department at the Cliff Street Yard from 2008 to 2010.
“I never meant for this to happen. I never bothered anyone in my life. I don’t like violence and I didn’t want to get hurt.” Williams said. “I honestly don’t think I deserve to go to jail for the rest of my life.”
Williams will be eligible for parole in 2031.
The district can be forgiven for failing to turn up Williams criminal record. It took one phone call to the Stuebenville Police Department (Williams lived in Stuebenville on and off over the last 10 years) and one email to the New Rochelle Police Department to obtain Williams rap sheet from the two municipalities. Arrests outside these two jurisdictions are not shown. The total work involved took about 4 minutes and turned up 25 priors.
The chart above is divided up into Purple (arrests under 18), Aqua (arrests over 18, prior to hire by New Rochelle school district), Yellow (arrests while employed by the New Rochelle school district), Gray (arrests after leaving the employment of the New Rochelle school district).
At meetings of parents at Jefferson Elementary School and Isaac E. Young Middle School in the wake of the arrest of Jose Martinez, a district administrator accused of sexual molestation of a 14-year old student at Isaac Young, Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, claimed that district employees are subject to background checks and, if arrested while employed, the district is informed through a special program run by the State Education Department.
That would mean that the district hired Rassool Hassan Williams despite 17 prior arrests and retained Williams despite two more arrests while employed by the district. At the time he left the employment of the district, Williams had been arrested 19 times on the way to a total of 25 including his last arrest for second degree murder.
The Williams case suggest there may be flaws in the school district’s system for screening prospective employees or a willingness to hire criminals for positions that put them in regular contact with children throughout the New Rochelle school distrct.