Mo. Attorney General takes action against national nonprofit after 41 Action News investigation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Missouri Attorney General is taking action against a national nonprofit organization in the wake of a 41 Action News investigation.

As part of a legal settlement, Tennessee-based Stop Child Trafficking Now (SCTNow) will agree to follow a list of requirements if it returns to Missouri for a fundraising event.

RELATED | Read the settlement http://bit.ly/ZAuyVn

Some of the stipulations include accurately describing how donated funds will be spent in the Kansas City area, along with an accurate depiction of the organization's accomplishments.

A 41 Action News investigation in November 2011 followed the money trail and fact-checked some of SCTNow's bold claims made on its website and during a fundraising event in Kansas City.

The downtown event raised about $30,000 for SCTNow. The organization said all those donations would stay in the Kansas City area, but couldn't provide specific details.

The nonprofit also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund private "special operatives" teams to gather undercover intelligence about child sex trafficking. SCTNow claimed to work closely with law enforcement.

However, when pressed for more details, SCTNow could not point to a single case in the country where information lead to an arrest or prosecution.

A week after that investigation aired, the videos on SCTNow's web site disappeared and several other areas of the site were labeled, "under construction." The organization later changed its leadership structure.

Last year, 41 Action News reported SCTNow would not be returning to Kansas City for a fundraising event.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Attorney General launched its own probe of the organization and recently reached an "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance."

In the court documents, the Attorney General accused SCTNow of "allegedly representing that donated funds were being distributed to nonprofit organizations in the Kansas City area that work to combat child trafficking when no nonprofit organization in Kansas City received funds."

The legal settlement also said SCTNow "misrepresented the scope and nature of its activities and accomplishments."

41 Action News contacted SCTNow President Greg Wark for a response to the legal settlement. Wark said it would be several days before he would be able to provide a comment.

It is unclear if SCTNow plans to return to Kansas City for a 2013 fundraiser. Currently, there are no planned events listed on the organization's web site .

A lot has happened since Johnson County resident Betty Whiteaker wrote 41 Action News a letter, asking for a closer look at SCTNow.

"They had great graphics on their web site and they had a marketing approach, but they didn't have any solid answers," said Whiteaker. "I think it's really important for people who volunteer to know their money and time are going to have results."

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can follow him or Twitter or connect with him on Facebook.
 

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