Charleston legislators met with People Against Rape board members Friday afternoon in an attempt to help the organization.
Earlier this week PAR leaders announced they discovered $60,000 to $80,000 worth of rent and tax bills had never been paid but were still submitted for reimbursement, board Chairman Michael Roach said. Board members blame a former employee, who has since left the agency. North Charleston Police and the Internal Revenue Service are investigating. No charges have been filed against the former employee.
PAR lost nearly $300,000 in grant money that was pulled by the S.C. Department of Public Safety and the Department of Health and Environmental Control until the agency could account for everything in an audit, board members said.
The board had to lay off 11 employees, leaving only two full-time employees. Four of the 11 who were laid off have pledged their commitment to continue working on a volunteer basis.
Board members admit some of the services will be affected by the loss of staff. The 24/7 hotline is still operational. PAR is back to its core mission mainly accompanying victims to the evidentiary exam, according to Treasurer Vickey Cornelison-Grant.
Representatives Limehouse and Gilliard said they wanted to meet with board members to get their account of what happened and learn how the organization is coping with the funding loss.
“As state leaders, we can't let the organization fall by the wayside,” Rep. Gilliard said.
Gilliard hopes private entities will reach out and donate funds. During the meeting Friday afternoon, Roach said board members have been donating their time to the PAR office to keep crucial operations going.
“We will take any help we can get,” Roach said.
Board members are expecting to make a presentation to the Charleston Legislative Delegation during its meeting next week, at the request of Gilliard and Limehouse.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5560 or Twitter.com/ncaula.