Sunday, February 17, 2013

Baptists terminate investigator of child sex abuse claims

Only a few weeks before the release of a final investigative report on allegations involving a missionary's sexual abuse of kids, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) has fired the investigative team, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE).
The investigation had been on-going for nearly two years, and GRACE had interviewed approximately 100 witnesses. At issue in the investigation was not only the missionary’s alleged acts of sexual abuse, but more broadly, questions related to how ABWE responded to allegations. In other words, the investigation was also concerned with who at ABWE had knowledge about the accused missionary’s conduct, and with what they did or did not do.

GRACE was prepared to issue its final report and had already informed ABWE that the report would be delivered before the end of March.

ABWE hired a new investigative team to replace GRACE, but its new investigative team has a privacy policy which provides that the results of its investigation will be  released only to the client -- i.e., only to ABWE -- and not publicly.

Read GRACE's February 11th letter in response to ABWE’s termination – a letter that sets forth some of ABWE’s conduct during the investigative process – and decide for yourself what you think about this. Personally, I think ABWE’s termination of GRACE gives the appearance that there were likely some officials at ABWE who feared that GRACE’s report would implicate them in a keep-it-quiet cover-up in much the same way that an independent investigation of the Penn State scandal implicated others at the institution in addition to the child molester.

GRACE sums up its response to ABWE with this statement: “When placed in the context of ABWE’s conduct over the past 20 months, the termination of GRACE strongly suggests ABWE is unwilling to have itself investigated unless the investigation is within your control.”

GRACE also points out that many missionary kids and their families have been waiting for a decade to have an independent investigation of this matter. Tragically, GRACE is almost certainly correct in stating that, for many of these individuals, ABWE’s decision “will inflict a pain as great as any they have ever known.”
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