Turmoil within CYD after exec. director, three board members resign

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Career Youth Development is a Milwaukee agency focused on helping youth and families succeed -- but now, CYD has found itself deep in turmoil. The agency's executive director and three board members have stepped down after trying, unsuccessfully, to remove a staff member accused of sexual harassment.

Over the last six months, change has become commonplace at Career Youth Development.

In September, CYD's board voted to fire Executive Director James Ferguson.

Ferguson's replacement was hired in January -- only to quit earlier this month, along with three other board members.

The new Executive Director is Elizabeth Coggs, who had previously served on the Milwaukee County Board and in the state Assembly.

"Unfortunately, sometimes those events happen in life and those challenges come. I would say give CYD another chance. This agency is built on giving people second and third chances and rebuilding lives," Coggs said.

In this case, second and third chances may be the problem.

The board voted earlier in March on whether to remove one of its executives -- Community Outreach Manager James Nelson, after he was accused of sexual harassment.

After a 4-4 split vote, Nelson retained his job.

"I felt personally that the allegations were credible and that`s why I was the one who made the motion to terminate the employee," former CYD board member Sam Hall said.

Nelson has been the subject of previous complaints. State documents show that a female taking computer training at CYD filed a complaint in 2008 -- accusing Nelson of "making sexually offensive comments."

That complaint was dismissed after the two sides agreed to a settlement.

Nelson has not returned calls from FOX6 News for comment on this story.

"Does James Nelson have a place here? Let me respond to that. We have hired independent legal counsel. We`ve hired counsel that specializes in sexual harassment situations, which are allegations at this point," Coggs said.

"In my mind, if as a board, we could not get ourselves to take action against an employee in those circumstances, I didn`t feel that we really had a path forward to get out of the financial ruin CYD is in," Hall said.

Speaking of financial problems, county officials have confirmed CYD owes the county nearly $60,000.

Hall, who stepped down from CYD's board after the vote says the agency also owes about $100,000 in back taxes.