People Against Rape can’t seem to catch a break.
The nonprofit dedicated to helping local adult victims of sexual assault, which is dealing with financial difficulties because of mishandled funds, held a “garage sale” of office equipment, furniture and other items Saturday at its 2,200-square-foot office near Northwoods Mall in North Charleston.
PAR was trying to squeeze a little cash out of those belongings as it moves out of that space and into a free office that’s “maybe 600 square feet” at 259 Meeting St. in Charleston on Nov. 1, said PAR board Chairman Michael Roach.
But a late-October hurricane was churning offshore in the Atlantic, creating rain and blustery wind that likely kept even the most dedicated bargain seekers away. The sale was promoted in print, online, TV and on the radio.
“We still have a lot of stuff here,” said Roach, before the 1 p.m. cutoff. “I was hoping they’d come and clear us out.”
But PAR did scrape up $800 that it didn’t have before the sale.
Though PAR gave first dibs to office belongings earlier in the week and collected about $1,000, there was plenty to choose from Saturday.
Maria Slawson of Summerville, who is starting a new trucking agency, Driveline Logistics, bought a desk, chairs, clipboards, a mirror and even some Mason jars, for about $500.
The cash will give PAR a little cushion as it remains in limbo awaiting an audit of financial irregularities. The leftover items, Roach said, will be donated to the Salvation Army.
In the winter of 2011, PAR treasurer Vickey Cornelison-Grant noticed irregularities in records that eventually led to the discovery of $60,000 to $80,000 in rent and tax bills that had not been paid, and yet still were submitted for reimbursement to state agencies.
An employee questioned about the irregularities was evasive and, two days later, left without retrieving her belongings. She was later tracked down in Florida and denied wrongdoing. No charges have been filed in the case, which the North Charleston Police Department and Internal Revenue Service still are investigating.
As a result, the agency lost about $300,000 in suspended grant revenue and had to lay off 11 employees.
Roach said that while PAR officials await findings, the organization is still “on the hook” for debts, including the remaining wages for those employees, until the audit is completed.
Despite the troubles, services are being provided to rape victims in the tri-county area. PAR has up to 40 volunteers helping its mission.“The most important thing in all this is that were keeping the services going for victims of sexual assault,” Roach said.