"The apologies that are offered must sound hollow to the families who bear the scars of this tragedy."

There are 28 Comments

Donn R Arms's picture

What happened to Jim O'Neill? Why is Alan Cockrell back in charge? I can find nothing about a transition on the ABWE website. Was he dismissed after less than 2 years or did he simply decide he did not want to preside over this chaos?

Donn R Arms

Jonathan Charles's picture

The letter our church received about Jim O'Neill simply stated that his service was ending by mutual agreement and that it had nothing to do with moral or financial impropriety.  I read in between the lines that the board must have not thought that he was up to the task of being an administrator.  Who knows.

On another note, sadly in the past child sexual abuse was a matter that was often swept under the rug.  I doubt there was always a single reason, maybe at times one or more of the following:

1.  Leaders didn't want to damage the ministry.

2.  Parents didn't want children who had already been harmed to suffer more harm and humiliation by making the matter public.  I have in mind here occasions I know of when parents were complicit with dealing with abuse by not reporting it to police and by wanting to deal with the matter privately.

3.  People didn't view such behavior as criminal.  From the present perspective it is hard to understand why some didn't.

4.  Christian leaders confused their spiritual duty to help the fallen with their legal duty to report crimes.  Showing a man grace, getting him counseling is all good and well, but at the same time CALL THE POLICE.  

5.  The damage abuse did to children was underestimated.  Perhaps parents and leaders felt it is something a child would get over, forget about.  

6.  Children were sometimes held mutually accountable for the abuse as the 14 year old girl in ABWE's story was made to sign a confession or the way Tina Anderson was dealt with by Trinity Baptist in NH. 

dgszweda's picture

One element I have often complained about is the power a mission board has, the lack of oversight and the lack of accountability with the local church.  Churches give up their God given mandate, and hand it over to a mission board that operates as a parachurch organization and in many ways even operates as a church.

Jonathan Charles's picture

Early in the ministry I was told that the mission board existed to serve the churches, but I have been often disappointed with the lack of communication mission boards have had with our church concerning missionaries who have made big changes in their ministries.  When I have had to call the board about a missionary who overstayed his year-long furlough by many months asking "What's up with so-and-so?"  something is wrong.  I get the feeling that there is a corporate head quarters mentality in some agencies and the local church is looked upon as a passive donor.    

Bert Perry's picture

First of all, agreed that there are times when parachurch ministries in general use their physical distance from sponsors and workers/missionaries to avoid accountability.  

That said, we need to remember that we all have a tendency to circle the wagons when we're not convinced that a certain behavior is a big deal.  Maybe ABWE is reminding us here through their tragedy that we need to keep our eyes on the big stuff?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Donn R Arms's picture

This from page 79 of the report:

03/01/2013, E. Alan Cockrell, another ABWE member, and Robert Showers stated to the Pii investigative team that Donn Ketcham’s father had “long-time sexual addictions.”
 

Donn R Arms

Joel Shaffer's picture

Donn R Arms wrote:

This from page 79 of the report:

03/01/2013, E. Alan Cockrell, another ABWE member, and Robert Showers stated to the Pii investigative team that Donn Ketcham’s father had “long-time sexual addictions.”
 

Here is the entire quote:    

There may be potential corporate ramifications from revelations from E. Alan Cockrell, Robert Showers and an ABWE Administrator stating to the Pii investigative team that Donn Ketcham’s father Robert T. Ketcham, a significant leader of GARBC, allegedly had “long-time sexual addictions.” The investigation did not address this allegation as it was outside of the scope of work nor was any corroborative evidence peripherally discovered. The statement brings to light the following possibilities: 1) This statement may reflect an ABWE cultural awareness of Robert T. Ketcham’s life choices, 2) This awareness may parallel the lengthy time period in which GARBC was the primary funding source for ABWE, and 3) It is possible, therefore, that ABWE leadership was motivated to disregard Robert T. Ketcham’s behaviors for their own motives, as they would later do with Donn Ketcham. This information should have also provided ABWE with additional context and motivation to investigate Donn Ketcham’s behavior. 

Jim's picture

Donn R Arms wrote:

This from page 79 of the report:

03/01/2013, E. Alan Cockrell, another ABWE member, and Robert Showers stated to the Pii investigative team that Donn Ketcham’s father had “long-time sexual addictions.”
 

The Sr Ketcham died in '78 ... And Robert Showers Jr graduated from college in 1977 . One wonders how he would know these things about Ketcham!?

I would like to see GARBC leadership address the allegations

 

Bert Perry's picture

Not having had the time to read the report, thanks to those who did.  Regarding the allegations, it strikes me that they are vague enough to encompass three rough categories: truly criminal activity, activity that is not criminal but is Biblically proscribed, and even activity that is not Biblically proscribed, but most Americans have traditionally eschewed--e.g. "oral sex" was generally banned by most states until the 1950s or so.  

So I think ABWE/GARBC owes us an explanation of what is meant by that--granted, most of the witnesses are long dead, but if we're going to understand what kind of things to watch out for in terms of "circling the wagons" and "closing ranks", we really need to have some answers here.  Or alternatively, we might find out that there was a gossip mill that was pretty unfair to Mr. Ketcham.  

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Not having had the time to read the report, thanks to those who did.  Regarding the allegations, it strikes me that they are vague enough to encompass three rough categories: truly criminal activity, activity that is not criminal but is Biblically proscribed, and even activity that is not Biblically proscribed, but most Americans have traditionally eschewed--e.g. "oral sex" was generally banned by most states until the 1950s or so.  

So I think ABWE/GARBC owes us an explanation of what is meant by that--granted, most of the witnesses are long dead, but if we're going to understand what kind of things to watch out for in terms of "circling the wagons" and "closing ranks", we really need to have some answers here.  Or alternatively, we might find out that there was a gossip mill that was pretty unfair to Mr. Ketcham.  

 

Now the quote about Robert T. Ketcham was only one paragraph out of 280 pages.  Whereas there are 280 pages in the report about ABWE's oleration and coverup of Donn Ketcham's immorality along with pedaphilic activities in a span of 25 or so years.   

Seidel.h's picture

My past history in the GARBC and my personal contact with Dr. Ketchum via his son in law Don Moffat and daughter Lois demands that I at least address this accusation.  I think it "slimy" to use the word already used, to try and slander Dr. R.T Ketchum because of the sins of his son.  If you knew anything about this you would know that Dr. Ketchum and the family never ever covered for Donn.  They were as heartbroken over his sins as all of us.  The fault and it is a fault is that ABWE and the powers that be overlooked these things and let them slide.  It does no good to try and justify ABWE's lack of doing right by slandering another.  I never knew Dr. R.T. Ketchum personally.  I heard him preach many times and was aware of his stand on separation and we admired him as "Fighting Bob Ketchum" for his stand against the Northern Baptist Convention.  His pastorate in Iowa and in other areas was well known to me as a young preacher, and I can say there was never ever an accusation against him.  I tried to help the GARB but to no avail and in 1976 had enough and departed, taking the church I was pastoring at the time out of the fellowship.  I can say they were weak in the so called "approval system" they had for the affiliated mission agencies and schools.  This finally, in my opinion, became one of their downfalls.  Harvey Seidel, Thermopolis, WY

Ron Bean's picture

Will missionaries be leaving ABWE?

Will churches continue to support ABWE and its missionaries?

Will people just say, "I'm glad that's over. Let's forget about the past and keep on keeping on?"

Will anything be done for the victims? 

Personally, I bailed on ABWE many years ago over their questionable handling of financial support that was sent to missionaries. I had heard rumors back then but was told that they were false and to "trust us".

"We're sorry" ain't gonna feed the chickens!

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Donn R Arms's picture

The troubling part of Cockrell’s sliming of R.T. Ketcham is the terminology he used. No one is “addicted” to sex any more than one is addicted to pride, stealing, gossip, or any other sin. The only reason to bring it up to the investigators would be to justify Donn Ketcham—claiming he was somehow genetically predispositoned toward immorality in the same way one can be at risk genetically for cancer or diabetes. He had a sickness, an addiction for which one should have compassion rather than sin for which he should be disciplined.

The bottom line is that even after all had come to light, through its Interim President, ABWE was still covering, dodging, blame-shifting, and excusing. It matters not who is slimed as long as the institution is defended. And now the same man is back in charge. It is the logical conclusion of an organization that requires that candidates be tested and evaluated by a psychologist before being approved for missionary service.

Donn R Arms

Bert Perry's picture

I read the document--thanks for the nudge, Joel--and it strikes me that ABWE's efforts to hide what went on involved HR, legal, and a lot more--look at the obstruction around page 140.  Suffice it to say that if ABWE wants to be trusted and serve Christ, they have some work to do.

One big thing that I can think of is that we've got to get over saying things in vague terms, e.g. using terms like "moral failure" when what we really mean is "had sex with a young single missionary" or "performed a pelvic exam on a prepubescent girl."  And it's not "sexual addiction", but rather "compulsive sexual behavior."   

I don't mean that we should be needlessly crude or coarse, but reports like this indicate that we may be aiding and abetting sin with our use of euphemisms/pious-sounding nonsense, to put it very politely.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

apward's picture

I am an ABWE MK, a current ABWE full-time missionary, and parent of ABWE MKs. I’m not a PR specialist, but I’d like to respond to some of the comments here. The leadership at ABWE has repeatedly apologized about how they handled this situation in the past, and I hope that they will continue to apologize and seek the forgiveness of those who have been wronged. I hope they do continue to repair the damage that has been done in the lives of the victims and to do everything possible to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.  I am not coldly unconcerned about this situation because my own wife and kids are here with me on the mission field, and I will do everything I can do to make sure that they are safe.

 

The bottom line is that even after all had come to light, through its Interim President, ABWE was still covering, dodging, blame-shifting, and excusing. It matters not who is slimed as long as the institution is defended.

I don’t see how this statement could be made by someone who has read the full Pii report. Please read pages 166-167 to see how Dr. Cockrell has performed in his responsibilities as Interim President and has fully supported this investigation. Since R.T. Ketcham died in 1978, I don't know of any way to blame him or defend him for events in and after 1989 - seems to be a moot point. I don’t know why Alan Cockrell made that comment about R.T. Ketcham. Have you asked him, or are you assuming to know his motives? The Pii report does not tell us the context in which that statement was made, why Dr. Cockrell said it, or what knowledge he may have to substantiate it. Perhaps Dr. Cockrell was wrong, perhaps he was sinfully committing gossip, perhaps he was blame-shifting, or perhaps he had a good reason to make that statement. I don’t know, and we can’t know based solely on the Pii report. I’ll write to him and ask him. Perhaps you should do the same.

 

I read the document--thanks for the nudge, Joel--and it strikes me that ABWE's efforts to hide what went on involved HR, legal, and a lot more--look at the obstruction around page 140.  Suffice it to say that if ABWE wants to be trusted and serve Christ, they have some work to do.

Well, ABWE is not hiding what happened or what the individuals in Admin, HR, and legal did. They fired those responsible (who were still a part of the organization), turned over the documentation to Pii, and publicly posted this report on their website. So, yes, things were hidden before, but are no longer. I also agree that there is still much more work yet to be done to regain trust. This kind of thing cannot be resolved quickly.

 

Will missionaries be leaving ABWE?

I can’t speak for other missionaries, but I will not be leaving over this issue. In my opinion the present leadership has taken the necessary steps to ensure that his does not happen again. And all of the former leadership (who were involved in the incident and the later cover-up) have been replaced.

 

Will churches continue to support ABWE and its missionaries?

I can’t speak for those who support ABWE and the individual missionaries, but it has been my experience that those who give financially to missionaries do so because of their connection to the individual missionaries rather that their loyalty to the mission agency.

 

Will people just say, "I'm glad that's over. Let's forget about the past and keep on keeping on?"

I can say that we missionaries haven’t ceased our work while waiting for this report to come out. The gospel is still preached and disciples are taught. But that doesn’t mean we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past. ABWE has made many significant changes because of the failures of the past.

 

Will anything be done for the victims? 

The Pii report states some of what has been done and I hope that much more will be done for them. The website says “the present administration and Board are committed to provide counseling and support to the Victim/Survivors and their families, now and going forward.”

 

 

Personally, I bailed on ABWE many years ago over their questionable handling of financial support that was sent to missionaries. I had heard rumors back then but was told that they were false and to "trust us".

I’m sorry to hear about that. I don’t know what rumors you are referring to, but I can tell you that I and all the missionaries I know must give an account of every penny of ministry funds that comes to us. And I’ve never had trouble receiving support donated to our ministry through the mission.

I can’t defend ABWE leadership’s handling of this situation and their behavior toward the victims in this case. Obviously they were in the wrong, which is why they hired Pii to do an independent investigation. But they have begun to take the steps necessary to change, and if they continue down that path then they will hopefully regain your trust.

Bert Perry's picture

....for your well thought out comments on this tragedy.  One thing I might add to my comments is that when you have a situation where multiple departments of a company fail egregiouisly (my ISO9001 experience is showing here), you generally need to do a lot of work to not only clear up the working documents (those appeared reasonable at least from my reading of the ABWE document), but you also need to address the hidden culture of the company, something called the "hidden factory" in my profession.  More or less, a lot of the messes that people get to clean up anywhere are because there are real reasons people did things a certain way--real reasons that they know and the management generally doesn't.  

I used to figure out the hidden factory by taking my breaks at the smoke shack--probably not an option at ABWE HQ, of course, but that was where people were relaxed enough to talk about everything they hated.  So the trick at ABWE is to, rhetorically speaking, "find the smoke shack", and then provide incentives to do things correctly. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

You have got to be kidding me.  What you are saying is a total insult to anyone with half a brain. How dare you defend them. ABWE dragged their feet for a decade or more and allowed Godly Wendall to stay at the helm for a long time.  He died a couple years later. Even worse they continued to glorify Godly Wendall even after he died.  Rasing money in his name and naming a hospital in his name.  Even after their socalled appology which they were dragged into not doing. I remember seeing a video of missionaries celebrating Wendell's birthday. Disgusting. These people call themselves Christians. Also they still have Godly Wendall buried at ABWE with a big monument. Here is the truth buddy.  Wendall aided and abetted Ketchem along with his two minions and had the gall to call the first victim a harlot.  I'm sure he knew about the other victims along the way. In legal terms someone who AIDS and abetts and conspires to do so is guilty of the same crimes as a the sex abuse perp.  Wendall Kempton was a criminal and if he Ketchum and his minions were caught they would have done 20 years in prison. That's the truth of it. Let's not mince words here. I think the truth needs to be plainly spoken about the attitude of the GRABC and ABWE.  By defending ABWE in any way your doing the same thing Wendall did your calling a crime a moral failure a mistake in judgement  an adulterous incident.  Let's see a 60 year old man keeps a girl he groomed at 12 as a sex pet for 2 years.  Even  a Christian Police Officer of mine who handled a similar matter In a GRABC at that time would call it a crime. .  At the time this occurred ABWE was in South Jersey and heavily connected to Bethel Baptist Church. If I recall ABWE's headquarters was accross the street from Bethel Baptist and school  I lived in South Jersey at the time and had Christian Police Officer who were friends of mine connected to Bethel and Haddon Heights Baptist.  They shared with me a couple incidents that refelected Wendall Kempton's attitude toward underage girls and women.  It may have been just a South Jersey thing but there is no doubt it was believed by some of the  Pastors in those churches at the time.  Now I also had my personal experiences with people from these churches which I will not share but point to the same Duggerite Gothardite attitude toward  women and sexual abuse of underage girls.   This being said the legacy of Wendall Kempton is he was a criminal who protected a sexual predator that would make Sandusky look like a Angel.     If ABWE wanted to really make amends they would dig up Godly Wendelland rebury him with a small marker next to a potters field and then publically smash the stone they erected on the sight.  Rasie money $100 a pop of the sludge hammer. .  What gets me is you never heard any boos from his sons apologizing for what Wendall did.  Sad.  At least that guy's sister in Cleveland that kept the sex slaves for ten years had the decency to apologize for what her brother did, but we would not want to smear Godly Wendall's rep. 

Bert Perry's picture

One thing worth noting here is that as angry as we should be that this happened--both the crimes (Ketcham and apparently at least one more perpetrator) and the coverup--we need to be aware as well that this is a blind spot that was exposed for both religious and secular institutions relatively recently and is still shaking out.  

One of our BIG responses needs to be a prayer "Lord, help show me my blind spots."  It might be our attitudes towards a particular kind of church, a particular kind of pastor, or a particular thing in our culture that is indeed sinful.  But just like the church tolerated slavery for an awfully long time, we will be shown those blind spots periodically and we need to keep our heads about us as we do.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

ABWE was continuing business as usual in its ranks in 2013/14.  ABWE needs to be dismantled in away to best help its missionaries transition off the field or to another mission agency not associated with the GRABC.  These guys are an ongoing Criminal Enterprise not doing the work of the Lord.  They are only bringing disdain to our Lord's name just as ATI and Gothard has. If it continues it is one big joke.  I feel mostly feel sorry for the victims of these MONSTERS and secondly I feel bad for the many committed missionaries in the field with ABWE and how they have been defrauded by these MONSTERS.  I do have great disdain for the Former Law Enforcement Officers connected to the ABWE ministry Tachtica.  These guys did not even speak up.  From what I can tell from their website most their personal did not retire as Officers. I maybe wrong.   My best guess is these guys were either fired from their jobs or were asked to leave and created this Tachtica ministry to provide them with employment.  All Pastors out their don't let these guys in your front door of your church.  They are a total disgrace to the badge.  My God how could you be involved with such a ministry and not speak up.  Even a corrupt cop by drugs or money would stand up for the protection of children.  You are worse than them.  

Joeb's picture

I agree Bert and I maybe reacting harshly but how long has this been going on.  Any the Pastors on this site need to go back to the churches and help their personal missionaries get away from ABWE and need to speak in joined voice condemning  them which I have not heard from anyone including from TACHICA.  The facts have been laid bare.  Where is the outrage like when our Lord whipped and chased the money changers out of his Temple. I think that's why the victims feel abandoned. 

Brent Marshall's picture

Jim wrote:

Today I was in a pastor's office. The man was on the ABWE board at the time of the abuse. He told me that the board was in the dark about the whole situation

Maybe they did not know, but should they have known? I wonder what the board was doing to direct.

Things That Matter

As the quantity of communication increases, so does its quality decline; and the most important sign of this is that it is no longer acceptable to say so.--RScruton

Brent Marshall's picture

Joeb wrote:

You have got to be kidding me.  What you are saying is a total insult to anyone with half a brain. How dare you defend them.

Joeb wrote:

These guys are an ongoing Criminal Enterprise not doing the work of the Lord.

But who are the "them" and "These guys" to which you refer? When you glibly spew your invective in this unspecific way, you risk slandering innocent Christian brothers and sisters.

Joeb wrote:

I do have great disdain for the Former Law Enforcement Officers connected to the ABWE ministry Tachtica.  These guys did not even speak up.  From what I can tell from their website most their personal did not retire as Officers. I maybe wrong.   My best guess is these guys were either fired from their jobs or were asked to leave and created this Tachtica ministry to provide them with employment.  All Pastors out their don't let these guys in your front door of your church.  They are a total disgrace to the badge.  My God how could you be involved with such a ministry and not speak up.  Even a corrupt cop by drugs or money would stand up for the protection of children.  You are worse than them.  

What difference does it make whether they retire as officers? If God leads them to leave their careers before retirement and go minister in this way, what is that to you? And what do you know of what these persons have done individually to make these general accusations?

Your speech to Bro. Ward and generally is intemperate, it recklessly disregards the truth, and it is slanderous. And it is not justified by the evident sin of a number of persons that have been associated with ABWE: two wrongs do not make a right.
 

 

Things That Matter

As the quantity of communication increases, so does its quality decline; and the most important sign of this is that it is no longer acceptable to say so.--RScruton

apward's picture

Hi Joeb,

I think that you have either misread my post or simply did not read it before writing your response.

How dare you defend them.

If you read my post you will see that I specifically stated that I can not defend them and that they were obviously wrong in what they did. I’m not sure how you could have misunderstood me, or how I could have made myself clearer on that point.

I’m not defending them or mitigating their actions. What I am saying is that they are gone. No one involved with Donn Ketcham and the following cover-up are still at ABWE. So when you say “they” and “them” you are talking about people who have died or are no longer associated with ABWE.

 

p.s. you also spoke of other things like celebrating Kempton’s birthday, the GARBC, and Tachtica. I can’t respond to those things, because I’ve never been involved with them. I’ve never celebrated Kempton’s birthday nor been invited to do so. I’ve never been a member of a GARBC church and (as far as I know) I don’t personally know any GARBC pastors, nor do I have any GARBC churches supporting me. I don’t know who or what Tachtica is, but there are many missionaries and related ministries with whom I am not familiar.

If you have any questions I’d be happy to respond to them.

.

Joeb's picture

To AP sorry I misread I appoligize.  To Brent in 2014 TACHTICA was asked to do the right thing and break fellowship with ABWE and to denounce ABWE in support of the victims.  The child support officer was also appealed to do the right thing in 2013/14. and go to the FBI to report other matters in direct opposition to her employer. Sexually  Abusing a minor by an adult overseas is a Federal Offense.  In 2013/2014 ABWE was still glorifying Godly Wendall on their website and TACHTICA was directly connected.  The video of people celebrating in the Philipines of Godly Wendall was still on the Website.  This is after the 2011 appology and another institution was glorifying Wendall on it website which the victims found offensive.  As 60 days ago TACHTCA is still shown being n the ABWE family.  No word no statement no denouncing from them hence they dishonor the badge that Christ allowed them to have t carry the sword of Justice.  So Brent you may support these cowards I don't.  I support the victims. Brent with these Five new perps and victims where were the fathers of these children.  They should be shouting from the mountain tops or did they just melt away like the missionary parents of the victims of Kechum.  My friend if a young female is assaulted by a older male she is justified in killing him to protect herself.  That's how serious the crime is. Tina Andersons perp got 20 to life so this is not a moral failure Brent.  Also even when the new incidents were brought to light they ABWE sat on them for four months and the second time around they wanted to interview perps and victims first.  Brent that is clearly called Obstruction of Justice in a crime where the victim is allowed to use deadly force to protect themselves   Brent I don't know about you but if it was my daughter the Police would be involved from the start. If I was an ABWE Misiionary and the ABWE Administator in the field told me they would handle the matter and if I interfered they would fire me and I was told I needed to just forgive and forget I say yep go away and find my self a sludge hammer a bat a axe handle and I gurantee that the male perp would never walk again. Now that's a sin but I'd be willing to go to jail for it.  If you would not even haven that kind of anger about the matter in your heart and no want to follow your basic God given instinct to protect your child brother you got something wrong with you.  I'm not saying you should act on that anger but if you did not feel that way shame on you.  Now O freely admitt that I would take justice in my own hands if I was overseas and ABWE interfered with me protecting my child and me getting justice for her but I would be willing to go to jail for it.  Now we have 4 to 5 new ABWE perps and who knows how many new victims.  Obvously PI felt they were referable matters. It is a joke for ABWE to continue.  

Joeb's picture

PI ID'd 3 new peps not 4 to 5.  Victims not stated.  Only appears to be continued effort by ABWE to protect perps by not imediately referring and do their own investigation.