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South Florida HIV Organization, Broward House, Looking to Leave Child Molestation Scandal Behind

by Gideon Grudo
Saturday Nov 24, 2012

When it approved Michael McGuigan as the CEO of the HIV service center, the Broward House board of directors didn't expect his troubled past to become a pertinent part of his - and its - present.

"We talked about it. We felt the allegations were unfounded," said Mark Budwig, president of the board, and around when the directors were being briefed on McGuigan's past of accusations of child molestation. "He's never been arrested, so we said let's make this man president and CEO. We did discuss it, though."

Budwig explained that McGuigan's merit proved him a good candidate and nothing else mattered. He had been working at Broward House for nine years and was promoted to CEO in September when then-CEO, Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo resigned. Castillo had vouched for McGuigan to the board, but Budwig maintained that the final call was based on McGuigan's history with the organization.

"He'd been doing such an outstanding job," Budwig said. "It really wasn't an issue. The accusations were unfounded."

These "unfounded" allegations started as far back as 2000, according to the Miami Herald, when a Delray teenager alleged that McGuigan had shown him child pornography and solicited him to perform sexual acts. Police wanted prosecutors to charge him with lewd and lascivious behavior, but the State Attorney's Office wouldn't do it. In 2009, a 7-year-old committed suicide shortly after his time at McGuigan's foster home, according to the Herald. While Margate police were investigating, a man from Massachusetts told them that McGuigan had molested him years earlier. In February 2011, a Broward County judge ruled that McGuigan would no longer be allowed to house foster children - this is when an 8-year-old told caseworkers McGuigan had molested him. The Herald reported that by then DCF had removed three children from McGuigan's foster care, after which he got rid of his foster license. Finally, in a deal by which McGuigan wouldn't fight Florida's allegations against him, a Broward judge terminated McGuigan's parental rights to an adopted 6-year-old.

The board knew all of this, Budwig said, but felt it was in the clear and didn't strategize a response to the public had the situation ever come to scandalous fruition, as the board believed it never would.

"At this point, I'd have to say we're moving on. The issue's been resolved," Budwig told SFGN. "What happened yesterday happened yesterday. We've learned."

Before this resolution, when the board was still backing McGuigan and standing behind him, two board members resigned: Charlotte Mather-Taylor of North Broward Hospital District and Cindy Cohn of Memorial Regional Hospital. As of press time, SFGN could not reach either for comment.

The resolution is the appointment of Stacy Hyde, long-time Broward House worker - she's served in five different positions at the agency: Director of Case Management, Director of Behavioral Health, Senior Director of Residential Programs, Senior Director of Contracts & Performance Management, and Chief Operating Officer.

Hyde has a clean and clear past according to Budwig.

While Broward House maintains that employees go through a rigorous background check before being hired and again every five years, Budwig said new policies will be implemented to prevent a McGuigan situation from happening again, though he couldn't specify what those policies are yet, as he said they're still being developed.

Like Budwig, who said that Broward House's main concern is to continue and expand its services - in his tenure of nine years, Broward House's budget rose from $4 million to $12 million, its client base from three to six million - Hyde also wants to keep focus on the future. And she'll do what she has to do to regain momentum from the scandal.

"I know because of the staff that we have here and the commitment we have, we will move forward and regain any confidence we may have lost," she said.

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