HELPING young girls flee sex traffickers takes more than good intentions. The safe havens and other elements of rescuing victims of child prostitution take money and the support of a community.
The Genesis Project in SeaTac helps girls and young women escape the sex trade. Its good work should not be compromised by sloppy bookkeeping and poor management. The head of the nonprofit drop-in center, Andy Conner, has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing after an investigation by the FBI and a detective assigned to a U.S. Secret Service task force.
Conner is a veteran King County sheriff’s deputy who, with sheriff’s Detectives Brian Taylor and Joel Banks, pooled money and raised funds to launch Genesis. The nonprofit depends on funds raised through coin-box donations, online donations and annual fundraisers.
According to a Times story, the project’s employees were interviewed during the investigation, its books were reviewed by an FBI forensic accountant and prosecutors reviewed the nonprofit’s records.
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No criminal wrongdoing was found, but investigators discovered that Conner did not use adequate financial controls or best practices for nonprofits.
Past and future donors need to know the money was and will be used properly in the future — through scrupulous, transparent bookkeeping.
These cops know well the seamy underbelly of the streets, which is why they were compelled to step forward and help sex-trafficking victims. But they are less knowledgeable about accounting.
The nonprofit needs a robust system of checks and balances. It needs to fund the hiring of professional financial management and regular audits. Conner’s good intentions are strengthened, not blemished by removing himself from a position of financial authority.
Good management and continued support from the community combine to help victims of sex trafficking rebuild their lives.