A man who served time for child-sex convictions in Summit County used a fake name to present special programs.
NORTH CANTON A sex offender used a false name to get a job teaching special programs at the North Canton Public Library and worked with children and teens for over two years, investigators say.
Jason M. Mazan, 34, of the 2900 block of Chalford Circle NW in the Greentown area, is a registered sex offender who had been working under the name of Jason Drake, according to Stark County Jail records. Mazan, labeled a habitual sex offender, was arrested at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the jail on felony charges of obstructing justice and failure to notify authorities that he had changed his address.
Christina Weyrick, community relations manager for the library, confirmed that Mazan had been working under an assumed name, unbeknown to the library, but not as an employee.
"He did programs for us," she said. "He was not an employee of the library. We paid him to present at our how-to festival and, most recently, to offer a program on special effects makeup at Lib-Con, which is a comic-con type event. He was a presenter."
More importantly, she said, "To our knowledge, no one was harmed in any way. He was not alone with children while offering programs, and he was not a regular employee."
The Lib-Con event advertised on the library's website for his most recent class described him as a presenter for a noon class on Nov. 17 on FX Makeup Tips and Tricks. He is listed as Jason Drake, owner of Drake Enterprises. The website goes on to say that Drake is a Kent State graduate with a theater degree, owns his own comic book prop making businesses and has been a regular panelist at local conventions throughout Ohio.
Hiding his identity
According to the jail records, Mazan was using "a false name to hide his true identity while working with pre-teen and teenage kids."
He is on parole, having been released from prison in June 2013 after serving time for attempted sexual battery and attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in Summit County, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction records. He was convicted in 2012, and he is listed on the Ohio Attorney General's Office registered sex offender website. Summit County court records also show he was convicted of falsification in the sex-crimes case.
Although Mazan is accused of failing to notify authorities that his address had changed, the jail records did not say where he has been living nor for how long.
He remained in jailed Thursday, held in lieu of $25,000 bond pending a Canton Municipal Court hearing.
The library wants to assure patrons that Mazan was never left alone with a child.
"One of our adult staff members or parents were present at all times," Weyrick said. "Whenever we have a presenter, we have a staff person in with them or there are parents in the room."
She said Mazan had presented one program called "How to Make Lightweight Cosplay Props." Other programs in which the library paid him to present since his first in October 2016 included a Halloween makeup program, Harry Potter Panel, Harry Potter Jeopardy program, special effect makeup program and two graphic novel club programs.
Mazan had been scheduled to be a presenter at a Graphic Novel Class on Dec. 27, but that class has been canceled, Weyrick said.
Mazan was a library patron in 2016 when he approached staff and told them he was interested in "all of the Comic-Con sorts of themed programs," Weyrick said. "He had a theater background and he said he could do special effects. We had been told his degree is in theater."
But, she admitted, no one checked.
"He offered to do programs," she said, adding, "We get a lot of people who come in and offer to do programs."
People present themselves as willing to share their knowledge and, "In those cases, we check to see that they're qualified, to see that they know what they're talking about."
How do library employees check their credentials?
"Sometimes they're referred to us, sometimes they approach us. There's no official way," Weyrick said. "We talk to people and look at their websites and, in this case, we thought that we knew Jason."
Background checks were conducted on every regular library employee who had been hired for the last 10 years, Weyrick said. But they're not conducted on program presenters.
During the library's Lib-Con program on Nov. 17, someone attending the program alerted library employees to Mazan's real name.
No complaints had been made against Mazan, Weyrick said, and "we immediately alerted the Sheriff's Office. As soon as we knew there was a problem, we reached out to law enforcement, and we were very concerned. Our patrons' safety is of course our first priority."
As a result, the library may change the way they choose special program presenters.
"This was not something we ever anticipated happening," Weyrick said. "We are certainly talking with our Board of Directors and our attorney and looking at the way we've done things. I do think it's important to note that a background-checked employee would've been with (Mazan) the entire time."
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