St. Louis AIDS Agency Hires New Director After Former Director Fired Last Year
St. Louis-based Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS announced on Tuesday that it has hired a new executive director to replace Erise Williams, who was fired in November 2002 after the organization used money to hire a gay adult film star for an AIDS awareness event, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. BABAA chose George Cotton Sr. as its director. Cotton has served on the school board and city council in University City, Mo., and is leaving a job with the St. Louis Public Schools, according to the Post-Dispatch (O'Neil, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4/30). The BABAA board in November 2002 fired both Williams and James Green, BABAA senior director, after the City of St. Louis Department of Health began investigating on behalf of the CDC allegations that the organization had used federal money from a $96,000 CDC grant to fight syphilis to pay Edgar Gaines, a retired gay pornographic film actor, to strip at a sex education event (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/11/02). Cotton said, "We have to rebuild the enthusiasm for BABAA so the community can help in the cause," adding, "I respect the good work that BABAA does. We need to make it the pre-eminent source of AIDS resources and research for the African-American community." Cotton said he will work to repair the organization's reputation and raise private donations. A lawsuit filed by Williams and Green against BABAA seeking back pay over their firings is scheduled for a nonjury trial on May 14 before St. Louis Circuit Judge Jack Garvey, according to the Post-Dispatch (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.