Boise Pride still a go this weekend after board ousts president over sex abuse, embezzlement charges

Boise Pride, which started last Tuesday and culminates in a capitol rally, parade and festival this Saturday is still on, even though the board demanded the resignation of its president.

“We are going forward with the Pride Festival as planned,” said Minerva Jayne, Boise Pride’s director of administration. “With any organization there can be pitfalls and concerns that arise. We can try to to address those concerns in a mature and rational way and hope everyone will step up with maturity and grace.”

Boise Pride board members received a complaint against Matthew Luke Vankirk, who was elected president of Boise Pride in May of this year, alleging that he failed to fully disclose his criminal background and history, which includes his 2003 conviction on charges of lewd conduct with a child under 16. Vankirk was 21 at the time of his conviction and remains on Idaho’s sex offender registry.

Vankirk remains on parole, which prohibits him from occupying a public park (the Pride festival will be at Ann Morrison Park), attending events at bars or other venues distributing alcohol (there will be alcohol at the festival), attending events with minors present, supervising minors, consumption of alcohol, maintaining access to internet accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, or possession of a computer.

The board presented a letter with these charges, and Vankirk immediately resigned. The organization has not yet recovered access to their social media accounts, however, and organizers are concerned people may believe the festival is cancelled.

Subsequent investigation the Pride board uncovered evidence of misappropriation of funds for personal and unauthorized use, according to a press release. “significant and excessive charges to the general account of Boise Pride were made for personal use and were not authorized by a full consent of the board,” the release reads.

“We take these charges seriously and acknowledge our duty to reasonably investigate any complaint presented us by our membership or the public,” Jayne said. “Boise Pride is saddened that Pride 2013 has been marred by these unfortunate circumstances. However, we are committed to producing a successful Pride Event.”

“The Pride Rally, Parade and Festival will still take place as announced on Saturday, June 15, 2013. No vendor or sponsor has backed out and all necessary steps are being taken to ensure the event will go on,” Jayne continued.

A rally will take place Saturday at the Idaho State Capitol grounds beginning at 11 a.m. The parade will leave the grounds and head down 9th Street towards Ann Morrison Park, where the Festival will go through 8 p.m. After parties will be held at Lucky Dog Tavern and the Balcony Club.

More information on Boise Pride is available at their web site, boisepride.com

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