(RNS) — The longtime leader of a North Carolina Baptist charity stepped down this week after an internal investigation found he had used almost $90,000 in charitable funds for personal expenses over the past three years.The investigation also found that 81-year-old Michael Blackwell, who had led the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina since 1983, had diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to a special account set up for his benefit.
He also bought his wife a new car using charitable funds, according to a report from forensic auditors.
Blackwell, who had been on leave since May, when the investigation was launched, has agreed to pay back $88,803.14 in personal expenses charged over a three-year period to his company credit card.
“The Forensic Report describes the personal nature of these expenses, which include snacks, drinks, nutritional supplements, clothes, health care costs, subscriptions, and stays at Structure House — a self-improvement center where program participants stay in ‘luxury apartments,’” according to an investigative report made public this week.
Blackwell denied any wrongdoing in an interview with the Biblical Recorder, a state newspaper for North Carolina Baptists, and in a statement sent to the paper and Baptist leaders.
“There were some misunderstandings, (but) there certainly was no deliberate misuse of anything, ever on my part,” Blackwell said in the interview. According to the Biblical Recorder, Blackwell was allowed to see a summary o …