Bob Jones University regrets handling of 2005 sex assault allegations after ex-pastor’s arrest

The school found out about 2001 allegations two weeks ago, but the victim, Shielagh Clark, reported other assaults to the school in 2005. A BJU spokesman said "the university failed by not encouraging Clark to go to authorities at that time." Clark did file a report with the Hyde Park Police Department in 2005.... she was too afraid at the time to pursue charges, and no charges were filed." - Greenville News

3105 reads

There are 51 Comments

Mark_Smith's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Mark, the reason I don't mention the guilt of the "pastor" is because no sane person disputes that.  If only that were true regarding the guilt of BJU in cases like this.  

I'm glad you finally stated it. The pastor is the criminal. Period.

As for "sane people," they do not...

1. blame third parties for what others do

2. not report crimes against themselves and then blame third parties

3. constantly revisit things that happened 20 years ago in an attempt to get face time against a third party because they have a bone to pick against that third party.

But, I am apparently a unfeeling jerk. So, you should probably ignore what I wrote.

Jay's picture

It's in the Greenville News link at the top of this thread, Larry:

According to the GRACE report, a student told staff with Bob Jones University in 2005 that she had been abused by her pastor since she was 15 years old and that she was pregnant with his child, which is consistent with the report Clark filed with the Hyde Park police. The student was asked to withdraw from the university for lying about where she was when she used overnight passes, the report said.

The report was critical of the expulsion, saying a counselor "without conflicting interests" would have instead found the underlying problem was "this pastor's manipulative and devastating actions."

Clark identified herself as that former student.

I mean, if you're going to expel her, at least have enough decency to terminate her for "consensual sex" instead of using the hall pass thing as an excuse. 

Doesn't it seem a little weird to you that lying would be a more actionable offense than being molested by your pastor?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, this is not a third party issue.  The rapist is guilty for what he did, and BJU is guilty for what they did.  Again, what BJU did was use the student discipline and counseling "ministries" to discourage dozens of students, including the woman profiled here, from taking cases of sexual assault to the courts.  BJU even de facto expelled this woman from school for her fairly mild response to her assault.

That's a very real sin, Mark, and yes, you are pretty darned heartless in your approach to sexual assault victims.  You put all the onus on them, failing to clue in to how for too many, it's them vs. the world as they try to bring justice to their rapists--and then you wonder why people don't speak up and blame them for not speaking up.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Bert, did you read this article because it seems like you missed an awful lot of it. Here's what it says.. 

First, "regret" is the word that the author used. It is never attributed to BJU in a quotation. BJU may have used it but the article doesn't say so. Even then, since regret means to feel sorrow or remorse for something it is not clear why that would be a problem to feel sorrow or remorse that they mishandled a situation 15 years ago. What would you like them to feel? And what all did they say that didn't get quoted? We simply don't know.

Second, BJU found out about this accusation in 2005 which was the same year that the church fired the pastor when the accusations became public. So the idea that BJU allowed this pastor to continue in ministry for 15 years is false. Yet you made the statement anyway. Why? 

Third, BJU didn't prevent anything from happening in 2005. In 2005, the year that BJU found out, the victim filed a police report with the police but she did not pursue charges. The article says that BJU did not find out about the event on their property (the 2001 episode) until "two weeks ago" (meaning, I presume two weeks prior to the article). In 2005, the proper authorities were Hyde Park police where the offense occurred and where the police report was made. It is unlikely that BJU was a mandatory reporter at that time since the victim was no longer a minor. 

Fourth, BJU admitted not helping as they should have. This is about the only thing you got correct out of a very short article. 

As for counseling, many people think that GRACE's counseling recommendations were in error. BJU was being requested to change a fundamental part of the core doctrinal stance. They were well within their rights to reject that. GRACE's counseling recommendations had a number of problems, not the least of which is the anthropology, bibliology, and harmartiology involved. So your blame on BJU is misguided on that front.

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

I mean, if you're going to expel her, at least have enough decency to terminate her for "consensual sex" instead of using the hall pass thing as an excuse. 

Why? It wasn't consensual sex. It was assault. 

Doesn't it seem a little weird to you that lying would be a more actionable offense than being molested by your pastor?

It is more actionable. It is what they acted on so it sounds like you agree with them.

If you think she should not have been asked to withdraw for lying about where she was going off campus, what would have been the appropriate penalty? 

Bert Perry's picture

1.  Yes, it was technically a paraphrase, but if they'd used the wrong word, they'd have heard from BJU. The reporter's probably got it on tape.  For that matter, any Greenville area reporter familiar with the history of BJU would have heard the words "we apologize" as a bombshell, and if BJU had felt it was necessary to issue a real apology, they'd have used that word and publicized it.

Verdict; they said "regret".  

2.  Yes, thankfully the pastor was out of ministry.  Well, wait a minute; what's he been doing since?  Was his name added to a "do not hire" list?   What did BJU do to prevent him from getting further ministry employment?

3.  Regarding what BJU did, again, read the GRACE report!  It's in there, Larry.  They actively discouraged dozens of victims, including this woman, from reporting to the police and pretty much expelled her for minor violations of BJU's student conduct code.

4.  Regarding the notion that BJU did not know about the 2001 assaults, wrong, Larry.  From the article:

According to the GRACE report, a student told staff with Bob Jones University in 2005 that she had been abused by her pastor since she was 15 years old and that she was pregnant with his child, which is consistent with the report Clark filed with the Hyde Park police. 

I guess I need to add something that BJU did in this case that is objectionable; they appear to have lied about knowing about the earlier assaults. They didn't find out about this in 2020, but in 2005.  It's on page 153 and 154 of the GRACE Report.  Read it.

5.  Regarding counseling practices, I'd love to see what hamartiological distinctives ought to tell you you don't make changes when your counseling practices lead your school to expel a girl for minor student code violations while ignoring the fact that one of its alumni raped her repeatedly.  Do tell.  Is it the criticality of "straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel", Larry?

Sorry, but you are dead wrong on every point you made save one--and even that one, you've got some serious holes in what was done.  It's time for BJU to own what they did and apologize.  And for that matter, they ought to provide some compensation for what their victim went through.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

You are obviously very passionate as a warrior against the scourge of BJU. I presume you have contacted BJU and asked for a face to face meeting to address their careless, unloving, and unChristian behavior (as you have classified it)? If not, why bother writing line after line about something that does not concern you?

Bert Perry's picture

....I could care just about the truth to call not just BJU, but other brothers in Christ to repentance and encourage people to make amends for wrongs they've done?  That my goal is not the destruction of BJU, but its repentance and improvement, and for them to set an example for other fundagelical entities to follow?

I'm seeing a lot of "us vs. them" in your comments lately, Mark.  Maybe give people some credit and stop assuming that their goal is to destroy entities you would like to see defended?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Have you contacted BJU in any way? I am just curious since you obviously think BJU has done something seriously wrong.

Jay's picture

Have you contacted BJU in any way?

If BJU was aware enough of this story to be interviewed for it and to defend themselves in the actual news article, knowing full well that went to thousands of people in Greenville and the surrounding area, how is this suddenly a "take it to your brother privately" offense?

Come on, man.  Use logic.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Joeb's picture

BJU not only did not encourage the 2005 gal to go to Police and they also treated her like an Offender.  So it was a little more then just not encouraging her to go to the Police.  She was treated like an unclean girl.  As the one Pastor in CA  referred to them as being like dirty rags.  That is on You Tube to folks.     
 

5 years later in 2010 BJU repeated history even more shamelessly.  Berg or one his stooges told one BJU student whose brother violently raped her and the victim's sister a 1000 times to go seek the Lord for her part in the sin and forgive and forget concerning her brother.  No one took her by the hand and acted as a Dutch Uncle to encourage her to report the matter to the Police. Not BJU Admin and not her BJU trained Home Church Pastor who was totally aware what was going on. Not one person.  She ended up doing it herself with her own sister.  Brother dearest went to jail.  The family and the church disowned her except after the conviction the BJU Pastor tried to come up with some bull crap excuse why he didn't take action.  This is all proven facts and I will not name the victim's name. She did say the only man in her life that ever helped her and her sister was the Detective who handled the case and may have not even been a Christian.    It's called common human decency and common sense 

So Bert's complaint about BJU of not playing Dutch Uncle for these young ladies and upholding them as a weak and abused sister in Christ in my mind is not in dispute.  Now Pettit the current BJU President was not involved in these matters and there is no allegations that him or his fellow Administration have done any such acts.  Due to this my only argument against Pettit is he did not fire Berg and burn Berg's  books and counseling methods.  Also due to the fact that there is two Presidents of well known Christian Universities who did allegedly directly participate in these type acts at the Universities or at the substantial Church they led before taking the President's post I support Pettit and BJU.  They have turned a corner and the other University Presidents are very questionable at best.    

Now this history of bad behavior Bert has enlightened us about has had consequences in my mind.  They're four BJU connected churches by me and all are Pastored by BJU trained Pastors.  The one I mentioned before on Sharper Iron as being a fine example of what a Fundemental Church should be.  The other three have are somewhat interconnected and questionable.  
 

The other three all have birthed sexual predators and/or protected them.  The protecting all being done by BJU trained Pastors and most of the violators being BJU Students at one time.  As recent as a year ago the one incident occurred and the other occurred about two years ago and made the Australian Version of 60 minutes.  That does not bode well for BJU.  In my mind that refelects a philosophy that was passed on by BJU leadership and profs.  
 

The one Pastor who counseled the couple who were missionaries from Australia pretty much admitted on TV he knew the dude was violent and could be again   The one good son supporting the mother alleged this counseling Pastor knew the father was raping his mother to.  Yet this Senior Pastor kept them together instead of getting them apart for good and reporting the matter to the Police.  The Senior Pastor sent them back to Australia where the BJU trained missionary father beat the hell out his wife and continued to rape her.  
 

The Australian Police Officer said he had never seen such abuse before.  The Victim said she was physically and sexually abused for 40 years.  Daddy dearest got five years.  
 

Who taught this Idiot Pastor to handle that situation like that.  Another argument to be made now is BJU needs to actively correct its past errors in teaching counseling to the students who are now Pastors in Churches.  This is not the only situation.   Three out of four churches in my area is not a good record.
 

Hence BJU is now fine in my book in how they are operating the University.  However offending Pastors should be reached out to and rebuked and offered updated correct training for counseling ie Berg's Counseling Stinks.  Maybe they have done this I don't know, but their seems to be a disconnect if their trained Pastors have engaged in bad behavior as recent as a year ago.  If your going to keep Berg make Berg do it by telling them what he taught them was seriously flawed and here is the correct way to do it right like CALL THE COPS.  At least have Berg eat some crow.   
 

Oh Mark by the way in  the past I have sent E Mails to BJU and to Berg expressing my discontent with their ungodly Counseling.  Also if my niece was at BJU and got some of Berg's counseling she probably would have hung herself  Thank God she wasn't   

 

Mark_Smith's picture

Jay wrote:

Have you contacted BJU in any way?

If BJU was aware enough of this story to be interviewed for it and to defend themselves in the actual news article, knowing full well that went to thousands of people in Greenville and the surrounding area, how is this suddenly a "take it to your brother privately" offense?

Come on, man.  Use logic.

I am not using a "take it to your brother privately argument." I never mentioned that. I am asking Bert, who rants for page after page about how BJU is doing bad, if he ever bothered to contact BJU. That's it. What is the point of an engineer who never went to BJU to rant for page after page and never contact the group he is so disappointed in? That is my question.

Bert Perry's picture

....since apparently he cannot be bothered to read what I wrote the first time:

....I could care just about the truth to call not just BJU, but other brothers in Christ to repentance and encourage people to make amends for wrongs they've done?  That my goal is not the destruction of BJU, but its repentance and improvement, and for them to set an example for other fundagelical entities to follow?

I'm seeing a lot of "us vs. them" in your comments lately, Mark.  Maybe give people some credit and stop assuming that their goal is to destroy entities you would like to see defended?

And let's be honest here: the mistakes BJU has made are, by and large, the same mistakes made at ABWE, New Tribes,  MSU, Penn State, USAG, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and more.  You start by downplaying the seriousness of the offense, and that leads you to think that it really doesn't belong in the criminal justice system or the civil courts.  You then make a hash of the investigation, and since you really don't want to talk about the nature of the offense--that makes it hard to "minimize", as Jay noted--you will automatically tend to play up minor offenses and ignore the big offense that led to the minor offenses.  It's called "victim blaming".

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

you will automatically tend to play up minor offenses and ignore the big offense that led to the minor offenses.  It's called "victim blaming".

This will be the great reveal... What exactly is the "big offense" in this case?

Jay's picture

Mark, there's multiple layers of fail here.  You can keep talking about the rape of the girl, but that's not the point Bert and I are making.  You're trying to force everyone into a false dichotomy.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Mark_Smith's picture

The girl was raped. Whatever the reason, she did not get or seek justice in the criminal justice system. Now, years later, the claim that BJU did something wrong.

My point is, why? I think because people have agendas to harm BJU. Its sensational... BJU told the girl to not complain, etc... They then want money or whatever from BJU.

And the problem is, the pastor is the criminal.

But, I get it. I'm backward.

I work for a certain secular university. In my time here we have had 4 rape cases that I know about at this school. NOT ONCE has the school ever admitted anything wrong in any case.

Mark_Smith's picture

Jim wrote:

My take, after careful consideration, is that we are in the era of BJU 2.0 (or the BJU 'reboot') and that the Pettit administration should not be blamed for the priors' errors.

Yes.

G. N. Barkman's picture

It should be apparent that there are some who have an ax to grind in regard to sexual assault in general and BJU in particular.  This fixation colors everything, even including how they read and interpret Scripture.  Trying to restore a bit of balance only results in doubling down.

My advice?  Let it go.  Don't respond.  No one is listening to reason or is willing to consider mitigating circumstances that might result in a more favorable opinion.  Any appeal to a more balanced approach will only generate greater dogmatism.  It is probably better to maintain silence than to extend opportunity for enlarged posturing.  Refusing to respond will hasten the end of the conversation.  (And alas, this very post will probably only prolong the rancor, the exact opposite of what I am advising.)

G. N. Barkman

Pages