By Brian Bergstein
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The former chief operating officer for the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, had been convicted of theft, drunken driving and fleeing a car accident. The revelation comes as Wikimedia is staging a fundraising drive.
Before she left the foundation in July, Carolyn Bothwell Doran, 45, had moved up from a part-time bookkeeping position and spent six months as an executive responsible for personnel and financial management. In March, she signed the nonprofit group's tax return, which listed more than $1.3 million in donations.
At the time, she was on probation for a 2004 hit-and-run accident in Loudoun County for which she served seven months in jail. Doran had multiple drunken-driving convictions, and records show earlier citations for theft, writing bad checks and wounding her boyfriend with a gunshot to the chest.
Wikimedia said it had no indication that Doran did anything improper with its money. However, the foundation's most recent audit is incomplete, though it had hoped to complete it months ago.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who is on Wikimedia's board, said he did not expect to find anything amiss but would cover any losses that turned up.
"We are very saddened and hurt by these shocking revelations," Wales wrote in a message to the Wikipedia community. "Of course we are doing soul searching about what we could have done different."
Doran's background was reported last week in the Register, a technology Web site based in London. The Associated Press independently examined Doran's record.
On May 20, while she was working for Wikimedia in St. Petersburg, Fla., Doran was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. She was released on bond that day. In August, a month after she left Wikimedia, she was arrested for violating probation on the 2004 hit-and-run. She was extradited to Virginia and has been jailed there.
Her attorney did not return messages seeking comment.
Wikimedia leaders said they knew nothing of her past until the Register story broke.
She had been sent by a temporary agency in 2006 and worked part time as Wikimedia's bookkeeper. Soon after, Wikimedia's board voted 6 to 1 to promote her to chief operating officer.
Danny Wool, a former Wikimedia employee who described Doran as personable, stylish and funny, recalled that she said she was the daughter of a CIA official. A 1992 Washington Post obituary on the CIA's James L. Bothwell lists daughter Carolyn Bothwell as a survivor.
Doran also had a picture on her desk of her late husband, intelligence officer Sean Doran, a former CIA employee and Air Force major who drowned on their honeymoon in the Cayman Islands in 1999.
There had been other trouble she didn't talk about, such as the 1989 shooting of her then-boyfriend, the father of her son. Doran allegedly had been beaten by the boyfriend and received probation after he asked that the case be dropped.
In 1995, a former roommate of Doran's was accused of poisoning a man for insurance money. Doran worked with investigators to secretly record incriminating conversations with her former roommate. Defense attorneys countered that she helped authorities so she could win leniency in a credit card forgery case.