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TARC Executive Director Resigns Following Allegations Of Misconduct

Transit Authority of River City (TARC) Executive Director Ferdinand L. Risco Jr.
Transit Authority of River City (TARC) Executive Director Ferdinand L. Risco Jr.

This story has been updated.

Ferdinand Risco Jr. is out as executive director of TARC, the city's public transit agency, a day after a report alleging that he sexually harassed current and former employees.

Mayor Greg Fischer announced Wednesday morning that he had accepted Risco's resignation. He said an interim director would be named soon, and that the city would seek a permanent replacement.

"A quality public transit system is critical to our city, and we are committed to a smooth transition," Fischer said in an emailed statement.

Fischer named Risco executive director of TARC last April. Risco had been with the agency since 2017.

On Tuesday, WAVE 3 reported several former and current employees alleged Risco subjected them to sexual harassment. The report said the employees claimed he harassed them through touching, inappropriate text messages and lewd photos.

Louisville attorney Thomas Clay said he met with the women over the weekend. He said the women feared retribution for speaking out about Risco’s unwanted advances.

“I think there was concern that if their allegations were made known that there could be repercussions in their employment,” he said. He declined to elaborate, citing attorney-client privilege.

Clay said when he first met with the group, their main concern was Risco’s status as head of TARC. With that no longer the case, Clay said it’s uncertain whether his clients will pursue a lawsuit.

Risco did not respond to emails or social media messages seeking response to the allegations.

Metro Council president David James said he believes a civil action may take place. But he said the Council’s Government Oversight and Audit Committee must do its own investigation.

“It's still shocking to me. I'm sorry that our employees at TARC had to suffer through that,” he said. “I’m interested in learning what went wrong and how it went wrong.”

He said he also wants to know how long the misconduct went on. 

“We have to find out if there were any other people involved in upper management at TARC. We have to find out if anybody participated in any cover up any upper management at TARC. We have to find out what the board of directors of TARC knew about it,” he said.

James said he had seen evidence of misconduct, including some of the illicit photos. He said they made him feel “shocked” and “dismayed.”

The chair of the TARC board, Mary Morrow, said the system remains focused on providing high-quality and reliable service.

"We are working to quickly identify an interim director to work with our wonderful, dedicated team until a permanent director is named. And we plan a national search for a new director who can help TARC continue its trajectory as a leader in the transit industry," Morrow said in a statement.

Earlier on Tuesday, Risco testified at Metro Council about recent issues with its TARC 3 service, which is for passengers with intellectual and physical disabilities. The agency and a subcontractor were in a contract dispute that led drivers to strike, stranding some passengers.

Reporter Eleanor Klibanoff contributed to this story.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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