LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A year-long investigation uncovered new details about TARC's former executive director.
The 210-page report, released Tuesday, says Ferdinand Risco of behaved like a "sexual predator." The report claims there was a "systemic failure of oversight and accountability from the initial hiring to the day Risco was asked to leave."
It says he "embarked on a pattern of behavior that can best be described as that of a sexual predator."
Risco resigned in February 2020 amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving multiple TARC employees. TARC has filed a half-million-dollar lawsuit against Risco, accusing him of fraud, malice and corruption. No criminal charges have been filed against Risco.
Thomas Clay, who represents five of the women, settled lawsuits with the city.
"In all the time I've been doing this, I think he ranks up there No. 1 as the worst sexual predator I've ever encountered," Clay said. "This report is a damning indictment of Metro government and all branches that had anything to do with hiring this Risco guy."
Denise Bentley, a former Louisville Metro councilwoman, helped bring the allegations to top city officials after being contacted by several female TARC employees.
"Unfortunately, I had lived the report with the women that were involved with Risco at TARC," she said. "When the first female came forward to me to tell me about her issues at TARC, I kind of wrote it off as an inner office relationship that when bad.
"When there were six women that came to me, I realized there was a problem, and it was a problem that needed to be addressed immediately."
The report says Risco "traveled extensively and lavishly on TARC funds" and claims there was "no formal background investigation conducted."
"He had the same pattern of conduct down in Atlanta," Clay said.
An investigation by retired FBI agent David Beyer concluded that "had a thorough background investigation been conducted, it is quite likely that sufficient negative information would have been developed to prevent this calamity from ever occurring."
"It's apparent from David Beyer's report here that there was literally no vetting done on this man who came in and wreaked havoc on the whole organization," Clay said.
Risco replaced longtime TARC Executive Director J. Barry Barker, who retired in 2018. According to Beyer’s report, "Risco also expended financial resources many times that of his predecessor. He traveled extensively and lavishly on TARC funds-again, funds that could have been better utilized to assist TARC's consumers or provide raises to the many dedicated TARC employees."
Investigators not only delved into Risco’s background, but they also traveled to Atlanta to interview former co-workers at MARTA.
"As part of this investigation an electronic search of federal court cases was conducted," the report says. "This search revealed a case had been filed in 2014 against Risco's former employer, MARTA, in which Risco was identified as inappropriately terminating a long-time employee who had received "exceptional" and "outstanding" performance appraisals prior to Risco becoming her supervisor."
Beyer’s report also reveals disturbing allegations from Risco’s time as director of diversity and equal opportunity in Atlanta.
"MARTA's General Counsel, Elizabeth O'Neill, was contacted," it says. "She reported that sometime around 2014 - 2015 there were complaints made by MARTA employees concerning executives in MARTA's Human Resources Department (HR) including Risco."
The report ends by recommending state and federal law enforcement agencies look into whether Risco should face any criminal charges.
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