The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Is Imploding
When I first became acquainted with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV), it was to expose the egregious way the agency had mishandled victim cases. A client went to them seeking help after being wrongfully framed in a domestic violence abuse incident. That client’s name is Amy Ballon. The FCADV’s negligence of not conducting background checks and not having a written policy in place to make them mandatory, led to Amy, an already vulnerable victim, getting revictimized by their agency staff member. Stephen Bradley, by name, was on the payroll as a victim advocate making the betrayal of trust and preying on vulnerability even worse.
Rather than accepting blame and attempting to correct the wrong, the agency put the onus back on Amy, citing her guilty in the matter. Bradley took advantage of Amy sexually and then proceeded to stalk her and hack her computer to get rid of any evidence that could implicate him for his actions. For more on this story, see Scarlett Johannson Speech Inspires Law Suit Against Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
In delving deeper into the FCADV, it became evident very quickly that the level of corruption and misappropriation of funds benefited the CEO, Tiffany Carr, and her top three executives, more than any of the victims in dire need of the agencies services. While Carr’s bank account grew exponentially, there were shortages of beds in shelters, and a lack of legal advocates to help victims all over Florida. How was it possible for justice to be served for domestic violence victims while the four top employees together at the FCADV were earning 1.3 Million annually in a non-profit agency? For more on this story, see Financial Abuse By Unexpected Predator: Non-Profit Domestic Violence Executives.
When investigating the FCADV further, it became even more clear that this agency was not fulfilling any of its obligations to serve victims of domestic violence. It was quite the opposite. Amy Ballon confronted the state of Florida directly about their service provider record and lack of oversight via email. The state, including Pam Bondi Attorney General, and Rick Scott, responded with a dismissive email back to her, and justification for why the FCADV should be able to continue operating as usual. For more details about that story, see Outrageous! Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Still Scared Silent.
Currently, the FCADV is finally appropriately called out by many parties who have the power to shut them down and change how they are incorporated as a non-profit. For starters, Governor DeSantis ordered an investigation. Understandably, he is concerned that the CEO was making $750,000 a year, and that doesn’t even include the other compensation perks she received (NBC10).
On “Wednesday, after months of obstruction, FCADV turned over documents to the House that detail the extent of Carr’s compensation scheme. Outraged and frustrated by what they saw, legislators in the Florida House on Thursday issued 14 subpoenas demanding Carr, the top two officials at FCADV — the chief financial officer and the chief operating officer — and 11 current and former board members testify under oath.” Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article240310046.html#storylink=cpy.
On Thursday, the Florida House Committee demanded the resignation of the state’s non-profit contractor board. It also served multiple subpoenas to gather evidence that the FCADV has been with-holding for over 20 months. DeSantis also ordered the State Inspector General to probe the investigation to determine if criminal charges could also become part of the probe (The Center Square).
After I published the stories above about the FCADV, and then they stonewalled Amy Ballon, she went to the Miami Herald armed with all the stats we had gathered and published. They, in turn, published a story about the blatant corruption and outlandish salary compensation package Tiffany Carr and her top tier executives were raking in. For more on that story, see article214972045.html.
The Miami Herald’s article from 2018 was the exposure that made the corruption and fund misallocation rise to the surface. Mike Carroll, the secretary of Florida’s Department of Children & Families, ordered a “comprehensive financial audit of all DCF contracted funds allocated to FCADV executive salaries.” Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article214972045.html#storylink=cpy.
As of today, February 16, 2020, the FCADV is being dissected for all intents and purposes. What happens with all the testimony, ongoing investigations, and what kind of new probe all this might lead to, is going to be very interesting to monitor. The fact of the matter is that right now, this is a massive victory for victims of domestic violence in Florida. I hope that it will set a precedent for other states that may have similar issues with their domestic violence abuse agencies.
As this saga comes full circle after almost three years, these are my takeaways: Amy Ballon is courageous! She demonstrated tremendous fortitude and tenacity in a very difficult and drawn out process.
She also took a leap of faith in trusting me to get her story out. Amy restored my faith that fighting for fairness and justice is worth it. As evidenced in this story, justice can and does prevail.