Auditors investigating possible misuse of funds

Thursday, October 31, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- A local AIDS agency that hired a gay-porn movie star to speak to a gathering of young gay men last summer is under scrutiny by auditors from the St. Louis comptroller's office.

The auditors are examining the books of Blacks Assisting Blacks Against AIDS. The agency is already being investigated by the city Department of Health, which has frozen its spending from a federal grant. The health department is reviewing whether the group improperly spent some of its $96,000 federal grant to fight syphilis -- and whether the star acted appropriately during his presentation.

Two former employees of the group alleged that the actor stripped and had sexual contact with guests at a "safer sex" party on July 20 in the downtown residence of Erise Williams Jr., the group's executive director.

Bruce Hopson, the group's lawyer, denied the allegations, but acknowledged that the gay-porn star appeared in a towel and boots during part of his presentation.

The group paid $500 to Edgar Gaines, whose porn movie name is Bobby Blake, for his appearance at Williams' home.

Hopson said Blake's appearance clad in a towel is legitimate "if that's what it takes to get the message across."

A spokesman for Comptroller Darlene Green said Tuesday that city auditors are examining invoices and other financial records of the syphilis grant and another federal grant of about $200,000. The group received both from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

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