CEO accused of child sex abuse resigns

Date: 2012-11-09
Source: Miami Herald

CEO accused of child sex abuse resigns
Following a week of withering scrutiny, the top executive at a Broward County HIV center has stepped down.


Michael McGuigan, the social service administrator who was named CEO of the Broward House HIV service center despite persistent claims that he had made improper advances toward children, tearfully resigned his post at an emergency board meeting Friday afternoon.

The Broward House board of directors then voted to grant McGuigan a severance package — the details of which members declined to disclose.

Mark Budwig, the board’s president, said McGuigan was very emotional when he announced his resignation, which took effect “immediately.” He will be replaced in an interim basis by Stacy Hyde, the chief operating officer, who has been at Broward House for nine years.

“Everyone’s main concern at Broward House is for our clients,” Budwig said.

Board members, some of whom represent the most powerful healthcare and social service agencies in the county, had been under withering pressure in recent days to either suspend or remove McGuigan, 53. Two board members — one each from Broward Health and Memorial Healthcare System — had resigned earlier in the week as the majority of the board had refused to remove McGuigan. Two funding sources, the Florida Department of Children & Families and the Broward County Commission, were discussing withdrawing their contributions to Broward House’s $11 million budget.

And Ron Book, one of the state’s most powerful lobbyists and the father of a sexual abuse survivor, had spent much of the past week squeezing funders and children’s advocates to force the board’s hand.

The arm-twisting proved too much for the board, which had hoped to withstand the scrutiny following a front page Miami Herald story detailing McGuigan’s past.

Budwig, the board’s president, said in an interview with The Herald late Friday that the board’s five-member executive committee had been briefed on the allegations surrounding McGuigan two years ago — before he had been promoted first to vice president and, later, to CEO. The briefing was made by Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo, the previous Broward House CEO, who left the agency in September.

Castillo, Budwig said, vouched for McGuigan, and assured the board that children in the agency’s care would be safe.

“He let us know they were allegations, and that’s all they were,” Budwig said. “There was no crime, no substance to any of it. None of it was proved.

“It didn’t happen,” Budwig added.

Castillo — whom Channel 10’s Bob Norman reported may be up for a job with newly elected Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, whose campaign he strongly supported — declined to discuss any of his actions undertaken during his tenure at Broward House. “I have no comment on it whatsoever,” he said. “It has nothing to do with me.”

Castillo did suggest McGuigan has done nothing wrong: “Has he been convicted of anything?” he asked a reporter.

As well, Budwig said he does not regret his decision to retain and promote McGuigan, believing he acted honorably as Broward House’s top executive.

“He did an excellent job, and he does not deserve to have to resign,” Budwig said. “I think it’s unfortunate.”

McGuigan’s lawyer has not returned several calls from a reporter.

The board had originally been scheduled to meet at Broward House’s main campus in Fort Lauderdale, but members agreed instead to hold it at a private home. The board refused to disclose the location of the home or to admit a reporter or other members of the public, saying the state’s Government in the Sunshine laws did not apply to them as a private not-for-profit. Details of the meeting leaked out quickly, however.

Joe Follick, a spokesman for DCF, said Secretary David Wilkins had been told late Friday that McGuigan had resigned. DCF had hastened McGuigan’s departure by threatening earlier in the week to withdraw $663,762 in state dollars used to treat 1,750 adults with substance abuse problems.

Book said he was told that Dean Trantalis, a Wilton Manors attorney and former Fort Lauderdale commissioner, asked board members to accept McGuigan’s resignation, and that he suggested McGuigan “leave today, return his keys today, and not be allowed back on the premises.”

Trantalis declined to speak with a Herald reporter, saying Budwig was the only board member authorized to discuss the meeting.

McGuigan, a longtime Broward House administrator, was promoted to president and chief executive officer in September, when Castillo stepped down.

Allegations involving his behavior with children first arose in 2000, when a Delray Beach teenager told police McGuigan offered him a ride in his car when the boy left a supermarket job interview. McGuigan, he told police, showed him a pornographic picture of a child, and asked him to perform sex acts. McGuigan returned to the supermarket a couple of times after the teen was hired and struck up conversations, the teen told police, adding he followed McGuigan to a parking lot and jotted down his license tag. Police asked prosecutors to press charges of lewd and lascivious behavior, but the State Attorney’s Office declined.

Nine years later, McGuigan’s name surfaced again when 7-year-old Gabriel Myers committed suicide shortly after leaving McGuigan’s foster home. A now-adult man from Massachusetts called Margate police, who were investigating Gabriel’s death, and claimed that McGuigan had molested him years earlier. The Massachusetts man had been a victim of McGuigan’s father, John J. “Sean” McGuigan, who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for raping and molesting children. Sean McGuigan, now free, remains a registered sex offender.

In February 2011, a Broward County judge ordered that no foster children be placed in McGuigan’s home after an 8-year-old boy told his caseworkers that McGuigan had molested him. By that time, DCF had already removed three foster children from McGuigan’s home, and McGuigan then relinquished his foster care license.

This summer, a Broward judge terminated McGuigan’s parental rights to a 6-year-old he adopted from foster care after McGuigan agreed not to fight the state’s allegations against him.

Book, who became an advocate for sexually abused children after his daughter Lauren’s longtime nanny was convicted of sex abuse, praised Broward House’s board for ensuring McGuigan’s departure — but also blasted them for waiting so long to do it.

“That they would leave a man like this in such a position, putting children in harm’s way, is inconceivable,” Book said. “It’s stupid and it’s ignorant.”

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