As many as 30 pre-teen students were allegedly sexually assaulted by a high-ranking figure at More Than Me Academy, a U.S.-backed school in Liberia devoted to the empowerment of young women, according to an investigation co-published Thursday by ProPublica and Time. The academy, and the larger More Than Me charity, were founded by Katie Meyler, an American philanthropist. But her major collaborator on the ground—the man who largely ran the school for the 10 months of the year Meyler spent back in the U.S.—raped as many as 30 of the pre-teen women, one student said, and allegedly passed AIDS to some of his victims. Although she knew of the allegations, ProPublica claims, Meyler continued to promote her charity as a groundbreaking success. One board member claims that on one evening, Meyler called him to say the allegations against Macintosh Johnson were “really, really, really bad,” and involved something like “all the girls over 11”—but just the next day, while speaking at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, she called the Academy “the best school in Liberia.” ProPublica reports none of the charity’s board members, including Meyler, attended Johnson’s trial after he was sued by 10 of the students, allowing him to paint a picture of his behavior that many characterize as inaccurate. Meyler and the board insist that hiring Johnson was their only mistake, and that the work they did to empower and support their students outweighs Johnson’s actions.
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