St. Louis AIDS Organization Board Fires Director, Senior Director for Using Federal Funds to Pay for Male Stripper at Sex Education Event
The board of St. Louis-based Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS on Friday voted 8-0 to fire the organization's executive director and its senior director after they used federal money to hire a gay adult film star for an event, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (Munz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/6). The City of St. Louis Department of Health last month began investigating on behalf of the CDC allegations that the organization in July used federal money to pay for Edgar Gaines, an actor in gay pornographic movies, to strip at a "safer sex" event. BABAA's former youth center director, who said he was "let go" on Oct. 4 after filing a sexual harassment charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told the St. Louis Civil Rights Enforcement Agency and the health department that Gaines appeared wearing only a towel and boots, stripped naked and allowed people to "fondle" him at an event held at the home of BABAA Executive Director Erise Williams. Bruce Hopson, an attorney representing BABAA, said that the group paid Gaines $500 from the organization's $96,000 CDC grant to fight syphilis to speak at the event but added that Gaines "did not strip for anybody, and nobody touched him" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/4). Donnell Smith, vice chair of the BABAA board, said that regardless of whether Gaines stripped at the event or not, his appearance wearing only a towel and boots was "inappropriate and something [the board does not] condone." Smith added that Williams was fired for that reason and for "other personnel matters" and that James Green, the senior director, was fired because he was in charge of the CDC grant. He added that the board was still investigating the allegations that Gaines stripped and allowed attendees to fondle him and that some of the attendees of the safe sex event were under age 18 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/6). The St. Louis health department on Thursday announced that the remainder of BABAA's grant would be cancelled (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.