9 Investigates: Convicted criminal working on county project

by: Erica Bryant Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

A Channel 9 investigation uncovered a convicted felon accused of preying on and sexually assaulting multiple women was hired to work on a county project paid for by tax dollars.
 
The work he did was at Johnson C. Smith University near the main campus.
 
“It's the nightmare of any parent or administrator,” said Ronald Carter, president of JCSU.
 
This property at the front door of Johnson C. Smith is the scene of two alleged rapes.
 
“It unnerves us that this could happen,” Carter said.
 
Carter said it's even more disturbing because the suspect, Frederick Eugene Sullivan, who police said has been a suspect in more than a dozen sexual assault cases over the past decade, was part of a work crew on campus renovating an historic home.
 
“We were not aware and disappointed that the responsible contractors had not done their due diligence,” Carter said.
 
Carter expected the construction company to screen its employees.
 
He believes if Sullivan had been properly screened, he would not have been hired.
 
Channel 9 learned because this is an historic site, the project was managed by Mecklenburg County, not the university.
 
Channel 9 started asking questions and found that until Eyewitness News told them, the county was not aware of the alleged rapes or that the suspect was a worker on a county-managed site.
 
“We had no knowledge of this,” said County Manager Dena Diorio.
 
Diorio said the county followed standard procedure hiring Andrew Roby Construction Company.
 
“They're a vendor. We hire lots of vendors to do lots of different things for the county. We do not screen every vendor that we hire,” Diorio said.
 
She said the county asks only that vendors follow federal law, which only requires them to comply with E-Verify to determine if a worker is in the U.S. illegally.
 
Beyond that, the county does not require vendors to conduct criminal background checks.
 
“We always want to look at what we're doing to make sure we are doing the right thing,” Diorio said.
 
Diorio said that because of the Channel 9 investigation, her staff recently contacted Andrew Roby Construction and learned it had hired a subcontractor, which employed Sullivan.
 
She said Roby learned of the alleged incidents in October and fired the subcontractor immediately, but did not notify the county.
 
Eyewitness News showed Diorio Sullivan’s extensive record and asked the status of county business with the two contracting companies going forward.
 
“Clearly the subcontractor would not be a part of any project with the county would work on and we'd have to look at Roby to see what processes were followed and how they hired that subcontractor,” Diorio saids.
 
As for adding a background check requirement for vendors, especially when work is near such a vulnerable population, Diorio said, “We have over 600 construction contracts a year in the county and to take on that work and to do that work would be cumbersome and very expensive. We need to look at it and see what makes the most sense.”
 
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department hopes the most recent rape charges will land Sullivan in prison for a long time.  He goes to trial in December.
                               
Sullivan sent Channel 9 a letter in which he claims the women accusing him of rape were all prostitutes or willing participants.
                               
He claims they accused him of rape when he didn't give them money.

Read past coverage:

9 investigates: Police say man accused in JCSU sexual assaults a ‘predator’