Letter praises Rec Director while under administrative leave

by: Richard Belcher Updated:

ATLANTA,None - Channel 2 Action News has learned that Atlanta's human resources commissioner wrote a glowing recommendation for a top city official who mishandled a sexual molestation charge.

Channel 2’s Richard Belcher broke the story that Atlanta Recreation Director Charlene Braud spent 11 months on leave with pay.

Now Atlanta Human Resources Commissioner Yvonne Cowser Yancy has given Channel 2 Action News a copy of the letter she wrote praising Braud, but Yancy hasn't explained why she wrote it.

Timing is the issue.  On January 31, 2012, an internal report found Braud was negligent for failing to report a sexual molestation allegation at a city recreation center last February.

The next day Commissioner Yancy wrote a recommendation letter for Braud who was seeking the job as Recreation Commissioner in New Orleans.  Yancy described Braud as “a valuable asset for your organization” and said “we fully recommend and support Ms. Braud’s candidacy.”  Yancy made no mention of Braud’s mishandling of the molestation investigation.

In a sepatate email to the search firm in New Orleans, Braud suggested she just ran afoul of city hall politics in Atlanta, but she, too, made no mention of the investigation that found her negligent.

It all started with an incident at the Adamsville Recreation Center in southwest Atlanta last February.

The allegation that reached Braud was that a swimming instructor improperly touched a 4-year-old girl.

The city's investigation found that one employee felt pressure from Braud to finish the investigation quickly.

March of last year Braud went on administrative leave.

But she continued to draw her $81,092 salary for 11 months without going to work.

During that time, the Fulton County district attorney investigated the swim coach but did not charge him.

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Braud began looking for another job as the recreation commissioner in New Orleans.

The Atlanta investigation – conducted by the City Attorney’s Office -- concluded both Braud and her boss, Commissioner George Dusenbury, “were negligent in ensuring that the office of recreation reported the allegations to the Atlanta Police Department in a timely manner." 

Commissioner Yancy’s letter of recommendation was written the following day. About her status, Yancy said Braud is “currently on paid administrative leave” but did not say why.

Belcher tried to track down Braud at her home in southwest Atlanta but was unsuccessful

The city says she will be transferred from the recreation director's job, but it has not announced a date for the transfer or the new job Braud will hold.