CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Municipal Court secretly cancelled its contract with an at-risk youth program run by Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown after two women accused a program employee of inappropriate sexual conduct, Channel 3 News has learned.
The municipal court launched "Get on Track" in 2006 to help low-level offenders turn their lives around and get a high school diploma.
As part of the initiative, the court entered into a contract with Amer-I-Can, a nationally renowned program started more than 25 years ago by the Cleveland Browns' former star running back.
Cleveland Municipal Court spokesman Ed Ferenc said the court cancelled the contract last fall after two women participating in "Get on Track" accused Amer-I-Can employee James Box of inappropriate conduct last October.
Cleveland Police's sex crimes unit is investigating one of the allegations, a spokesman said.
Ferenc said the second allegation occurred in Shaker Heights, but a detective there said Cleveland Police never provided him with enough information to open a case.
Box said he was unaware of the allegations until reached by Channel 3 News. He declined further comment. Calls to Amer-I-Can were not returned.
In addition to working with Amer-I-Can, Box works full time for the City of Cleveland as a community relations outreach program director.
Box's past is well known. The city hired him to work with ex-offenders in 1999, even though Box had been convicted of aggravated robbery in 1982 and sexual imposition in 1995.
In 2003, the Investigator Tom Meyer learned that Box was wanted on a rape charge that had been issued 15 years earlier. But a warrant issued in the case was never served because of clerical mistake. By the time Box was hauled into court, the statute of limitations had run out.
Blaine Griffin, the director of Cleveland's Community Relations Board, confirmed that Box was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct by the two "Get on Track" participants.
Griffin said the city placed Box on administrative duty in January after learning of the allegations.
"At no time do we try to defend the indefensible," Griffin said. "We allow the justice system to take its course."