DCARA controversy

The DCARA Interim Board President Tom Murillo announced late last night that their former executive director, Raymond Rodgers, who was placed on paid leave in March with an investigation on him, was let go.

Murillo said the board searched for an interim executive director and have hired Brian Lucas, a Deaf person from the East Coast, for this position.

The video was not posted on DCARA’s official Facebook page, but on an outside page, “Board Accountability with DCARA.” That video was taken down in the afternoon today.

There was immediate controversy with Lucas’ hiring after a Deaf news website, “The Deaf Report,” reported that Lucas was accused of sexual assault and went through an investigation at Gallaudet University.

The Daily Moth have checked with at least two different individuals who preferred to remain anonymous who confirmed that Lucas was accused of rape and harassment towards at least two women.

For the DCARA management team and staff, many of whom have protested Rodgers’ suspension for 80 days with at least two staff resigning, it was like pouring gasoline on a fire.

Lucas went to the DCARA headquarters today in San Leandro, California to report for duty, but was barred from entering the offices by DCARA staff.

Rosa Lee Timm, the DCARA Marketing Director, told “The Daily Moth” that the staff did not get an official notification that Rodgers was terminated or the reasons why.

About barring Lucas from entering the office, Timm said because some DCARA staff are survivors and because they do DV/SA work with clients who are survivors, they have to make sure that the headquarters is a safe space. Because of this, they decided to bar Lucas from entering until he has completed a background check. Timm said the staff is very upset.

I reached out to Lucas and was able to have a video chat while he was in the lobby of the DCARA headquarters. I asked him about the sexual assault allegations and he denied it, saying he had a consensual relationship and that this was a “modern day lynching.”

BRIAN LUCAS: I think this is modern lynching. In the past black men did not get their side of the story told. If a white woman had sex, she could twist her story and it would lead to the man lynched. So, for me today, it’s not the same thing but a modern day lynching on social media with the criticism without verification. The Deaf community should always listen to two sides. If it’s just one side, then don’t get involved until you get both sides. I would like people to ask me questions and I’ll be truthful. Truth moves slow while false information moves fast, as you can see with social media. It can lead to slander and libel because it is unproved. This harms my reputation and I have no interest in this.

We did (have sex), but how it happened — I was physically forced all the way from the beginning to the end. At first, I was unexpectedly grabbed into a bathroom. Secondly, my arm was twisted while we were in the car. The third time she wrapped her legs around me. The fourth was when I said “no” during the morning, I said I was not interested, and this made her mad. I was taken aback. That’s where power and control comes in. The problem is that I’m too kind and softhearted. I’m naive and it’s hurt me. That’s all.

Alex: Lucas explained that his employment background is with the U.S. government and that this DCARA job would be his first management experience.

I asked him how he felt that he was being barred from entry in DCARA’s building.

LUCAS: I feel shocked. All of my life, all my friends were very warm and welcoming of me. Here, I feel completely different. People are serious and I understand. I understand there is distrust. This has nothing to do with me or my reputation. I look forward to cleaning up the mess, that’s all. It’s not guaranteed that this is permanent. I might work temporarily or something. I’m willing to work it out. Flexibility is key. I’ve heard the rumblings that people want Rodgers to come back. That’s okay, so be it. If I take this job, it doesn’t mean that Rodgers won’t come back. That’s up for discussion. I’m interested and am open-minded to work that out. But it seems like they don’t want me here. So I respect that and I might leave to go back to the East Coast and start again. I’m okay. I’m a very strong man like always.

Alex: I was alerted that there is a YouTube video under the account Mary Pat Luetke-Stahlman, who is the same person who wrote the The Deaf Report article, that shows Lucas acknowledging he had a sexual relationship with a female, but said it was not rape and that she was the one who made the moves. Lucas acknowledges that the female was under the influence to the point that a bar bouncer said she was “drunk” and was to not get any more drinks, but Lucas said the female was still mentally alert and able to talk and walk around.

I asked Lucas if he was aware of this video. He said he was informed of the video and that there is nothing wrong in there and that he was defending himself. He said the video was only half of his conversation, not the full thing.

Lucas also confirmed that he was under an investigation for sexual assault at Gallaudet University, and that tomorrow is the final day for the result on if he violated or not. He said they reached out to DC police as well but there is no warrant and that they have not found anything.

I emailed the DCARA board to ask about the reasons why Rodgers was dismissed and on what their response was to the sexual assault allegations or if they were aware of it before hiring him, but I did not get an immediate response. If I do, I will add it in the comments.

According to a GoFundMe page to raise money for DCARA staff, this whole situation between the DCARA Board, Rodgers, and staff started at the end of February after the former DCARA Board President, Judy Gough, made a vlog that was perceived by DCARA staff as racially charged. There was a meeting between DCARA staff and board members. After that meeting, Rodgers was placed on leave, DCARA staff started to protest the Board, and Gough resigned from her position. The situation with the investigation and the protests have continued until today.

The Deaf Report article: https://thedeafreport.com/home/2019/5/13is-sexual-assult-something-dcara-takes-seriously

GoFundMe: http://bit.ly/2Hs7HKW

YouTube video: https://youtu.be/-wIq6jHpkjE