Katie Merley, CEO of More Than Me Foundation, has stepped down temporarily.
More than Me charity operating in Liberia has admitted to major failings after girls at a school set up to save them from a life of sexual exploitation were systematically raped.
“We are profoundly, deeply sorry,” the charity More Than Me said on its website on Saturday after media discovered that girls at her school in Liberia had been repeatedly abused by the charity’s co-founder, Macintosh Johnson.
Johnson eventually died of Aids and there are fears that he infected some of his victims – who were aged as young as 10 – with HIV which causes Aids, the investigative site ProPublica said in a lengthy investigative piece co-published with Time.
“To all the girls who were raped by Macintosh Johnson in 2014 and before: we failed you,” More Than Me said.
“We gave Johnson power that he exploited to abuse children. Those power dynamics broke staff ability to report the abuse to our leadership immediately.
“Our leadership should have recognized the signs earlier and we have and will continue to employ training and awareness programs so we do not miss this again.”
The assaults took place at a school at West Point, in the capital of Liberia, Monrovia.
Letter from Katie Meyler, founder of More Than Me, to the Liberian Advisory Board and to the Board of More Than Me Foundation:
October 14, 2018
Over the past 10 years, it has been my life’s work to serve in our mission to provide the most vulnerable girls of Liberia with a quality education and opportunities for advancement so they can have better lives. My first priority has always been to support these girls.
I’m writing you to tell you that in light of the Liberian Advisory Board’s recommendation for an independent investigation and after careful thought I have made the decision to temporarily step down from the role of CEO while the investigation takes place.
I support the Advisory Board’s decision and will cooperate fully with the investigative firm, and I believe stepping aside while the investigation is underway will further the goal of a thorough and impartial review. I’m confident that the results from this investigation will outline the best way forward for More Than Me.
More Than Me is not only the Academy anymore. We are a much stronger organization with a qualified and passionately dedicated team in partnership with the communities we work in—and with Liberia, a country we love so dearly—to ensure every girl (and boy) gets access to the safety, health and education they deserve.