Like many Mainers, we were excited earlier this month to hear that a local nonprofit had received a $475,000 grant from a national foundation to help small businesses grow.

So we were equally disappointed this week to learn that the grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation had been withdrawn because the nonprofit, Venture Hall, no longer exists. Its board closed up shop Monday after co-founder and President Jess Knox resigned in the face of charges of sexual misconduct.

Stories like this are part of the “#MeToo” reckoning, in which men who abuse their power are being exposed in a way that just didn’t happen in the past. It was only a matter of time until this kind of revelation hit Maine, and we should not expect that this one will be the last.

Knox has admitted to some of the alleged misconduct and resigned from his positions with several organizations that he helped build, all focused on the small-business startup community. Barring new information, this is a blow to his reputation from which he will not easily recover.

That’s his struggle. We are much more concerned for the entrepreneurs who were counting on help to launch their new-business ideas, and the small-business owners who were ready to take the next step. The loss of the Kauffman Foundation grant and the work it would have made possible will ripple through the community, hurting people who had no responsibility for Knox’s behavior.

We hope that the foundation will recognize that there is more than one person to Maine’s innovation environment, and that the foundation will not abandon the state because of one person’s acts. If that happens, it would send a very bad message that could be a setback to the post-#MeToo consciousness.

We don’t know all the facts about what Knox did or didn’t do, but it’s clear that he was a star player in several very small organizations. People who worked with him and for him relied on their relationship with him for access to information, contacts and other things that could help their businesses.

As scandals have erupted from Hollywood to Washington, we have learned about how much pressure there is for people in the orbit of a “star” to keep quiet when they know that the boss has abused his power.

The loss of such a significant grant reinforces the message that some people in an organization are too important to be held accountable – they are too big to fail. Incidents like this send a chilling message to employees and clients that everyone will go down if the boss goes down, so keep quiet.

That’s obviously not the foundation’s intent, and it can’t be expected to grant money to an organization that no longer exists. But we hope the foundation will keep working with Maine entrepreneurs to help them bring on the new era of the state’s economy.

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