Joyce Fotheringham

Joyce Fotheringham. Cannon Detention Center/Provided

A former bookkeeper for the Charleston-area nonprofit People Against Rape has been sentenced to 1½ years in prison.

Joyce Fotheringham, 56, pleaded guilty on March 16 to one count of forgery, according to court records. She received credit for the 4½ months already served in custody, according to court records.  

The State Law Enforcement Division charged Fotheringham with forgery of $10,000 or more in December.

An affidavit stated that she falsified grant documents in excess of $50,000 between 2010 and 2012.

A lengthy investigation began after PAR's finances were determined to be in disarray. The nonprofit since has rebounded.

"We at PAR are extremely pleased that justice has been served," said Janie Lauve, the nonprofit's executive director. "We can really move forward now with rebuilding our organization."

PAR lost $300,000 worth of grant money in 2012 after learning that $60,000 to $80,000 worth of bills that had never been paid were submitted for reimbursement. The board laid off all 13 employees that year.

During this time, the rape crisis center continued to operate with trained volunteers, leaning on community support. The center's free services include a 24-hour hotline, accompaniment during forensic exams and support groups for adult survivors of sexual assault in the tri-county area.

The organization's board members attended Fotheringham's sentencing and asked for restitution, but the judge determined no payment would be possible, Lauve said.

There is a possibility of a lawsuit in the future, she said. 

"It's been close to five years now since the illegal activity took place," Lauve said. "It was devastating to PAR and to survivors of sexual assault in our community. We're on sound financial footing now. We have six full-time staff and one part-time. Our grant funding has been restored. We're pleased to put this chapter behind us."

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.