Attic Youth Center indicates end for investigation into discrimination, sexual assault

Attic Youth Center employees received an email update Tuesday from its board of directors about the investigation into allegations of discrimination and sexual assault made public in March. 

The allegations included racism, unfair pay and sexual assault of a minor on the premises. 

“Ever since we learned about allegations of discrimination and sexual assault at the Attic, we’ve been resolute in our commitment to ensuring investigations that bring to light all relevant facts and institute changes to prevent the possibility of this type of harm from happening at The Attic,” the letter began.

The Attic Youth Center acknowledged in the letter that the investigation process “has taken longer than any of us expected or intended,” adding, “The expert law firms that we engaged to do this work firmly believe time and effort were critical to ensuring accurate reports that incorporate all pertinent input.” 

Abara Law is conducting the investigation into the allegations of racial discrimination against employees, while Morgan Lewis is looking into the claims of sexual assault. 

In the letter, the nonprofit affirmed a commitment to sharing findings with the public, along with a plan for “further reparative and preventative actions.” 

The board will meet several times in January and February to finalize a plan to move forward, according to the letter.

“We are very grateful to Shawnese Givens for guiding The Attic through this period and for bringing a strong sense of stability, humility, and service to our community in her role as Acting Executive Director,” the letter reads. “Even before receiving the final report, Shawnese and Attic leadership have implemented more robust policies and procedures as a direct result of the allegations.”

Givens was appointed after former Executive Director Carrie Jacobs was relieved of her duties when the allegations surfaced March 4 on the Black & Brown Workers Co-op Facebook page. At that time, BBWC asked for the resignation of Jacobs, Director of Programs and Operations Christina Santos and Associate Director Jacinto “Jay” Grant. The cooperative also asked for changes to the board of directors. Santos departed the organization, while Grant remains in his position, and the board is intact. 

Givens said in an email to PGN, “We have made a tremendous effort to ensure complete fairness and thoroughness, even if the process is taking longer than we hoped. Taking the time required is worth it to us to make sure we have done everything possible to get things right.”

“Under Shawnese’s leadership, and through your commitment to our values, we continue to strive to maintain The Attic as the safe, welcoming environment everyone in our community deserves,” the letter reads in closing.

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