Two former NFL players are suing former Houston Texan Timothy Carter, saying he failed to repay loans they gave him for a group foster home Carter runs in Richmond — a home that has repeatedly been cited by state inspectors for abuse and other violations.
In separate lawsuits filed in Harris and Fort Bend counties, Donnie Avery — a former wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams and other teams — and Antwaun Molden, a former cornerback for the Houston Texans, say Carter owes a combined $550,000. (After stints with the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns, Carter was signed by the Texans in 2008, but was released shortly thereafter.)
Carter filed a response denying the allegations in Molden's Fort Bend County suit, but has yet to respond to Avery's complaint in Harris County.
According to the Texas Department of Family Services, Carter's Kids Residential Treatment Center is authorized to house up to 30 children between the ages of seven and 17. One of the operation's two websites shows that it runs four homes.
One of the sites identifies Carter as the president and his wife, LaShell, as executive director. Carter's bio states that "Tim and LaShell hope to have a lasting impact on underprivileged children by permanently improving the lives of often abused and neglected foster youth."
Carter did not respond to requests for comment; LaShell hung up on the Houston Press before a reporter could ask any questions. The day after the Press left a message at the main number listed for Carter's Kids, the number was disconnected.
Carter's Kids has been cited 102 times over the past two years by DFPS inspectors, with the most recent violation — June 29 — showing that five employees' background checks were not completed before they were hired.
Although the stately, red brick homes look immaculate in online photos, inspectors have noted holes in walls and broken beds.
Other recent violations show that staff members told kids to lie during inspectors' visits; a child was "physically disciplined and injured by a staff member"; residents were "sexually acting out due to lack of supervision"; a staff member "allowed a resident to attack his peers"; and staff "sleeps at night while on duty"; among other violations. In one instance, the staff did not report that a fire had broken out in one of the homes. Even the operation's two vans were in disrepair — they were found to be unsanitary, with one having exposed interior wires, and the other having rear seats that had become detached from the floor, as well as a jammed back door.
Some of the violations are especially puzzling — like a complaint from August 2016 in which children and staff said that kids had to stay in their bedrooms until 10 a.m., regardless of when they wake up.
Carter's Kids markets itself differently from most residential treatment centers — it may be the only group foster home with a website featuring an ad for Mercedes-Benz, and an online store where you can buy Carter's Kids T-shirts and hoodies for $25 to $61. The website doesn't indicate where the proceeds go.
In a 2013 Houston Chronicle story, Carter said his organization housed 60 boys. He was interviewed for the "inaugural Carter's Kids Charity Benefit," which reportedly "raised more than $45,000."
"I have always had a passion for helping those who are less fortunate," Carter said. "I want to use my platform as an athlete to make a difference in the lives of foster kids."
Carter's Kids claims to receive backing from a Staten Island-based charity called International Children's Support Foundation, run out of the home of an insurance agent who was fined $63,000 by New York regulators in 2012 for aiding and facilitating "an unauthorized insurer."
Although the charity's website has been suspended, archived pages state that founder Richard Mahler Jr.'s "intense compassion and motivation for helping children was ignited over twenty years ago when he began participating in community outreaches to secure the needs of at-risk city children, gang members and foster children."
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Mahler Jr.'s son, Richard Mahler III, is also involved with International Children's Support Foundation, as well as another youth-focused charity, Xperience Outreach, that is "dedicated to planting seeds of hope in the minds and hearts of children worldwide." In an interview during the halftime of a 2012 minor league NBA game in Dallas, Mahler III claimed that his charity has helped "three- to four-hundred thousand children." (Mahler Jr. and Mahler III did not respond to requests for comment.)
Carter, who was also interviewed, said Carter's Kids was expanding to Dallas, with hopes to "build another compound similar to the one we have in Houston."
Perhaps these lawsuits will shed light on Carter's Kids' finances.
Avery's attorney, Eric Rhodes, declined to comment. We reached out to Molden's attorney and will update if we hear back. It's unclear if Carter has hired an attorney for the Harris County suit, but we reached out to the lawyer handling the Fort Bend County case and will update if we hear back.