Habitat formally terminates Millard And Linda Fuller.
As reported in the January 1 issue of THE NONPROFIT TIMES, Millard Fuller was forced out of the top job of the Americus, Ga-headquartered organization because of allegations of inappropriate behavior with a female employee. Fuller kept the largely ceremonial title of founder and president after compromising with the board in negotiations which included input from former President Jimmy Carter.
However, the organization has withdrawn that role for Fuller. In a press release posted on its Web site, the organization's executive committee charged the Fullers with being "divisive and disruptive to the organization's work" through their public comments about the matter.
In a news release, Habitat Board Chairman Rey Ramsey said, "In every instance, the Fullers ultimately have rejected or been openly critical of any and all steps taken toward appropriate compromise," said Ramsey. "The board must therefore fulfill its fiduciary obligation to the organization and our moral responsibility to all those who share in Habitat's mission. No issue, no per son, no debate can be permitted to compromise the integrity and work of this extraordinary ministry."
As previously reported in THE NPT, a source familiar with Habitat said, "A lot of people are un-surprised by the (latest) allegations."
The allegations surfaced "almost by accident" when the alleged victim talked to someone in personnel in early 2004 and mentioned that the alleged incident had something to do with her leaving, Ramsey said. At that point, calls were made to the organization's general counsel and then Ramsey. The board hired a New York law firm to independently investigate the incident. Fuller said that he voiced disagreement with that move.
Fuller said he initially suggested that he meet with the woman and Ramsey to talk about the incident, and that he would take a lie detector test, if necessary. Ramsey, a former practicing attorney, said he and board officers decided that the law required that they not self-investigate.
Fuller, who faced sexual harassment allegations by several women in 1990, which were settled internally, denied anything happened in this allegation.
"It was a totally non-event trip," Fuller said. "Even if that had happened, while it's not good conduct, it's not egregious, criminal activity."
Fuller has said in previous interviews with THE NONPROFIT TIMES that he comes from a family of "huggers" and "very affectionate people."
"I used to go to family reunions and my daddy would go around kissing all the women," Fuller said in 2003, while talking about the sexual harassment allegations of more than a decade ago.
He said he was "blown away" then by the fact that the women were offended by him giving them hugs or telling one she had beautiful eyes.
"What I learned out of that was that I have to be very, very careful about relationships especially with people of the other sex," Fuller said.
In a statement after the firing, Fuller expressed support for the organization.
"Habitat is my life work," said Fuller." I do not want to harm the ministry in any way. I applaud President Carter for his pledge to continue his involvement. I urge others to do the same."
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|Title Annotation:||Habitat for Humanity International|
|Publication:||The Non-profit Times|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2005|
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