Report: People Against Rape forced to lay off employees due to fraud

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Officials with People Against Rape, a local nonprofit agency that provides service to victims of sexual assault, announced on Tuesday that they have had to reduce services and lay off employees because a former employee stole funds.

According to the organization, the agency learned that a former employee submitted inaccurate and fraudulent requests for payment on several Department of Public Safety grants.

During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, the PAR's chairman said the former employee, who worked as a book keeper, did not pay rent and withholding taxes to the Department of Public Safety. Officials say the employee is responsible for between $65,000 and $80,000 that's missing from the organization.

Organization officials also say requests for reimbursement for some bills and taxes that had not been paid were inappropriately submitted.

A press release states that when PAR board members learned the requests for reimbursements had been inappropriately submitted, the organization contacted the IRS and confirmed that the bills had not been paid.

A financial audit is taking place to determine the amount of the misappropriated funds.

PAR officials say because of the incident, grant payments, which is the agency's primary funding, were being suspended until the issues were resolved.

The organization released the following statement:

"The Board was informed of the suspension of the grants on Friday, August 31st and because the agency's primary funding is through grants, it was forced to lay off eight employees. The Board has met several times over the weekend to determine how to continue to provide services to victims of sexual assault.

The Board is saddened and heartbroken by the fact that so many good people have been harmed by the actions of one dishonest and deceptive former employee, and because it happened on their watch.

However, they are determined that PAR must not fail, and pledge to our community, our employees, our funding agencies, and to the rape victims who need PAR's services that we will do everything in our power to resolve these problems as quickly as possible."

No charges have been filed. North Charleston police are investigating.

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