ILLINOIS (WCIA) — State Senator Scott Bennett is announcing a law he sponsored takes effect January 1.
Senate Bill 3240 requires carnival companies to conduct criminal background checks of all new employees and increases fines for those failing to do so.
Currently, only ride operators undergo background checks. The measure was a response to a 2014 tragedy in Farmer City, when Blayne Benefield was killed by two brothers who were employees of Big H Amusements, formerly known as A & A Amusements.
While the company was required to perform background checks on employees operating rides, it did not have to do so for other employees.
Bennett said this is an important distinction because Big H Amusements claimed the brothers were not ride operators, but photo evidence taken the night before the murder shows the older brother operating a ride.
Both brothers had criminal records, with the younger one pleading guilty to the sexual assault of a minor one year before the murder.
“These additional background check requirements will increase public safety,” Bennett said. “If a carnival company is bringing someone into our community to interact with our children, it doesn’t matter whether or not they are operating a ride or a carnival game; they should have a background check to make sure they are not a criminal. What happened to Blayne Benefield and his family was a tragedy. This law is overdue, but I am relieved that we now have safeguards in place to hold carnival companies accountable and protect our communities.”
Senate Bill 3240 passed both chambers with bipartisan support.
Blayne Benefield was strangled and stabbed to death. Former carnival workers James and Alexander Jacquart were convicted of the killing and disposing of Benefield’s body.