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'We feel violated' | Local DV shelters respond to nonprofit's spending scandal

Shelter makes effort to keep domestic violence survivors and their pets together
Posted at 1:07 AM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 01:07:47-05

As state officials take legal action against the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, leaders of local shelters are sounding off on the spending scandal's impact on survivors.

It's reported the nonprofit's former CEO, Tiffany Carr, earned $7.5 million in her last three years.

Attorney General Ashley Moody is vowing to take legal action against Carr and other top executives to recover millions of public dollars misspent.

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Lariana Forsythe is CEO of Casa St. Pete, one of the state's largest domestic violence shelters, housing an average of 120 people every night.

The shelter receives one-fifth of its $5 million budget from the Coalition.

"We trust the leadership of the organization," said Forsythe. "Somebody who was supposedly very passionate about ensuring quality services and to find out this kind of this kind of egregious activity was occurring on the backs of survivors, absolutely feel violated, disgusted."

Moody says it's likely the Coalition will be dissolved or reorganized completely. Florida Department of Children and Families will now step in to manage the 42 shelters the Coalition used to oversee.

"It’s heartbreaking," said Kirk Ryan Smith, CEO of RCS Pinellas. "It really just hurts my heart because I think the nature in the whole rational around creating FCADV was to help survivors."

Smith says he saw red flags from leaders at the Coalition before the spending scandal went public.

"At times they would take 30, 60, in some cases 90 days to pay us back and that puts us in a tough spot," said Smith. "It was very difficult to secure additional funding, I mean they made it difficult."