Content Warning: Rape, abuse, enabling
The Listening Ear hasn’t been trustworthy for quite some time. It was a mistake for me to return to the organization in 2013, but I was foolish enough to think I could help change things for the better. An even greater mistake for me has been holding back some of the things I know. That will begin to change right now. The Listening Ear’s sex offender scandal was nothing new.
As I’ve written before, the Listening Ear suffered through an embezzlement crisis in 2003. Some people in the organization wanted to keep it in-house. Many of us threatened to quit if that route was taken. Ultimately, the Listening Ear filed a police report and announced the embezzlement publicly. Over the next few years, most of the advocates for prosecuting the embezzler left the organization.
I left the Listening Ear when I enlisted in the U.S. Army in early 2007. Over the years, I remained in contact with people in the organization and assisted with training programs from time to time. I returned to the Listening Ear in early 2013 and left again about nine months later. I heard many times and from multiple sources about a second embezzlement that occurred during my time away. The following paragraph is based on information I gathered from people who were active with the Listening Ear during that second embezzlement.
The Listening Ear’s office manager (who had succeeded the previous embezzler) was writing herself duplicate paychecks, one with and one without her middle initial. When this was discovered, she was told not to return to work until further notice. In addition, payroll taxes were not paid, forcing the Listening Ear to pay thousands in back taxes, interest, and penalties. No police report was ever filed, and no announcement was made to donors or the community at large.
The Listening Ear and their supporters have disparaged critics as lazy, disgruntled, slanderous, etc. They have deleted and hidden comments on their Facebook page that have asked for the transparency they promised and criticized their sex offender scandal response. They have banned critics (including me) they deemed harassing but have not banned a supporter who in the Listening Ear’s own words harassed others. That particular supporter was a leader of the organization during that second embezzlement.
I have nothing to gain from exposing the truth about the Listening Ear. I continue this fight because I am a survivor of many forms of abuse, including sexual and psychological. People have suffered tremendous hurt from the actions of the Listening Ear’s leaders. At least one sexual assault survivor was left in a room alone with a convicted rapist for hours without that survivor’s knowledge or consent. Sexual assault survivors may have called the Listening Ear for support and have unknowingly shared private information with a convicted rapist. Many of the people who thought these things acceptable are still leading the organization today. People who participated in the cover-up of the second embezzlement are among leaders of the organization today. This is not acceptable.
The Listening Ear and their supporters wish to silence us. I will not be silenced. I will keep working to bring all the truth to light. If the Listening Ear is concerned about the community they serve, they will be transparent as they promised and tell the whole truth themselves.