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Liberia investigates US charity after alleged rapes

The Liberian government has opened up an investigation into a US charity that was supposed to protect the young girls in its care

An American charity created to protect young Liberian girls is under investigation after it was alleged a staffer raped several children in his care.

The Liberian government has opened the investigation into More Than Me (MTM) and re-opened a rape case so that it could determine new evidence. The man at the front of the charges, McIntosh Johnson, died in prison in 2016 while awaiting trial.

However, it was found that the charity had knowledge of the sexual assaults allegations for years and worked to obscure the details so that Founder, Katie Meyler, and MTM would not be blamed, instead pinning the responsibility on “Liberia culture”.

Liberia’s Education Minister, Ansu Sonii, told the Associated Press the Ministry has all necessary documents for a “meticulous” investigation and asked that the public remain calm, insisting that “the interest of the children count first”.

Since it was founded, MTM has raised over $US8 million, including $US600,000 from the United States government. Meyler was determined to see young, underprivileged girls from Liberia attend school, before setting out to establish MTM’s own schools.

Meyler and MTM have received praise from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for the work it has done with children. Johnson, who worked as Project Coordinator, was also commended for his work with the young girls.

Some girls went on to tell authorities that Johnson abused them in his house or on the beaches and oftentimes had them line up to wait. Ten girls pressed charges and an MTM document, labelled confidential, said a student had identified 30 victims.

Advocacy group, Liberia Feminist Forum, said it was “deeply troubled by the horrid report” and urged that the governments immediately revoke the accreditation of MTM and place its 19 schools under other management.

In a statement, a three-member committee of the charity’s Board of Directors said that Meyler had taken a leave of absence until a separate, independent audit requested by the organisation had been completed. It also confirmed its Chairman has resigned.

“We fell short, and we are determined to learn all that we can from this painful chapter.”

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