New Republic Picks Up Donn Ketcham Story



There is a natural tendency to keep things "in house." I've been in law enforcement and investigations my entire adult life. I saw this pattern repeatedly in the Navy. A unit would try to "investigate" criminal misconduct itself, to keep things "internal" before going to military police, to see "if there is any credibility" to the reports. I saw it as a Pastor, and was criticized by some for refusing to do this very thing. We see it with the ABWE scandal. Let me be politically correct, nuanced and sensitive for a moment:


If you don't, you are being stupid. I don't care what your motives are. You are being stupid. It will look like a cover-up. It will be a cover-up. You will contaminate testimony, destroy evidence, poison the well, and generally make yourself and your organization look like idiots. You'll deserve the ridicule you get. You'll deserve to be called stupid. You have no idea what you're doing. You're destroying the victims. You're protecting the potentially guilty. The truth will come out in the wash.

Always report. Don't "check on things yourself." Don't "consult with the deacons." Don't "get counsel and advice" from the local Pastor's fellowship - two weeks down the road. Please, don't be stupid. Pick up the phone and call the authorities. Do it now.

ABWE? They were stupid. Real stupid. Idiots. I've seen this my entire life, repeated over and over again. They deserve to go through the fire for their stupidity. Hopefully, others will learn how not to be so stupid.

Peace out.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


Tyler, do you have any opinions about the above article on ABWE?

G. N. Barkman

Bro. Barkman

No. I don't feel I should weigh in on this one. I think ABWE had a tough decision on its hands, and it did what it felt was best. Who are we to judge? We should trust that they did what they felt was right. Amen. (Yes, this is a joke).

There is a man at my church who was an ABWE missionary to Bangladesh for decades. He doesn't like to talk about this.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Not that hard!

It's worth noting here that in terms of sexual sin, figuring out what to report is often not terribly difficult.  Any contact, including touching of private areas for no medical purpose, is off limits when the person is 16 or under, depending on the state.  Any nonconsensual contact is off limits, including contact while intoxicated.  Someone comes to you reporting this?  Write down what they told you and encourage them to go to the police.  

And Biblically, reporting ought not trouble us, since Scripture gives us about the same rules.  You've got the prohibitions of adultery and fornication, and if I'm reading Song of Songs right, it clearly indicates only physically mature women--breasts, hips, belly a "mound of wheat surrounded by lilies" (think about it a moment)--were eligible for marriage.  I would dare say that the description could even indicate a degree of emotional maturity--the girl is not married off as soon as she starts having the monthly visitor, but waits until her body is developed.  The boy waits until he builds them a home, and his description in the same book also indicates physical and emotional maturity.  

Reluctant to report?  Look at the article.  Kim's gone through Hell as a result of Ketcham's abuse, and judging by the reports of her boyfriend and cutting, she's lost her faith, too.   Some people at ABWE have a millstone around their necks, brothers.  Don't let it be you. 

The Fear Factor

I spent much of my time as a Christian school principal/administrator. My policy was that if there were an accusation of abuse or Child Services showed up at school to investigate something, I let them have free access to the school. I was surprised at how many people in similar positions as mine thought I was "too cooperative"! Right now at least one state is opposing legislation intended to require daycare/childcare workers in Christian schools to be screened as too intrusive.

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


Tyler said everything that I had thought about saying while I was reading.  It's also worth nothing that interfering with a criminal investigation, no matter how well intentioned you are, could potentially put YOU at risk for criminal charges as well.

Just don't.  Call the cops and let them deal with it.  Stay in your lane and deal with the spiritual fallout.

I am utterly dumbfounded at how many ministers think that getting a ministry gives them carte blanche to adjudicate crimes.  Utterly. Dumbfounded.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin 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

Interfering with investigation

Worth noting is that an assistant football coach at my alma mater, Michigan State, was arrested for interfering with investigations when his action was simply to discuss the matter with the players accused of sexual assault.  (at least that's what he said, OK, it's debatable)  Beyond the obvious fact that I'm not terribly proud of MSU right now, it illustrates that mandatory reporters (like coaches) are not getting off easy anymore if they don't report crimes promptly.  I believe that several other MSU staffers have also lost their jobs for failing to report when suspicions of gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's crimes became known.  

Title IX might be in play, but word to the wise.  Apart from encouraging the person to talk to the police themselves--remind them that they've got people on retainer who can get physical evidence of the crime and so on--be happy filing a report, then filing an incident report for the church and the insurance company and lawyer, and then give the insurance company and lawyer a call.  Do what they say. 

While you're waiting for that sad moment to come, start a culture of reporting these things.  Even boo-boos that require just a bandaid.  File an incident report.  Then, when you've got a BIG deal, you can show the court you've been minding your Ps & Qs about the little things.  Juries and newsmen like that.

Word to the wise.

Boy Scouts

ABWE could sink, or they could use this humiliation to do what the Boy Scouts did--develop a world class child protection system, with the memory of horrors there to emphasize just why it's important.  

Holy. Cow.

I *just* finished reading the New Republic article.  I had no idea the Ketcham case was that bad.  I'd heard bits and pieces about it through SI, but I had no idea it was anything like this.  I am almost at a complete loss for words about what Kathryn Joyce wrote, and I beg you to please pardon any excessive emotion in this post.

First off, we should thank God for this article and the news coverage it gets.  The scandal is getting bigger.  It should.  It should make us angry enough to say 'Never again' and demand that the appropriate people are held to justice - God's justice and human justice.  There should be a bottomless pit of righteous rage in our souls for what ABWE put these families and kids through - and that's before we discuss the unknown hundreds or thousands of nationals that Ketcham was there to 'help'.  

Donn Ketcham was a predatory sociopath.  ABWE knew about it and harbored him for decades, and they did it deliberately and at the very highest levels of the organization.  Shut ABWE down NOW.

Anyone even remotely affiliated with actively covering this up should be run out of the ministry and out of town, if possible.  It should go without saying that anyone who cooperated with that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but I'll say that here just in case someone isn't sufficiently aware enough think of it.  

This is the most horrific thing I've ever seen in my lifetime - I would rate this far worse than the September 11th attacks - and the only somewhat comforting thing that I can think of right now is that God will deal out perfect justice; far more perfect justice than than any human court ever could possibly do. I would be terrified of His Wrath if I were in the administrative wing of ABWE and had anything to do with protecting Donn Ketcham.

If the blood of righteous Abel cried out from the ground against Cain, how much more so this case?  I am afraid to even consider it.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin 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

TylerR wrote:

TylerR wrote:

No. I don't feel I should weigh in on this one. I think ABWE had a tough decision on its hands, and it did what it felt was best. Who are we to judge? We should trust that they did what they felt was right. Amen. (Yes, this is a joke).

There is a man at my church who was an ABWE missionary to Bangladesh for decades. He doesn't like to talk about this.

I also know someone that was with ABWE in Bangladesh.  This person has only once said anything about their time there in any length and any of the other times it was mentioned it was with pursed lips and refusal to discuss.  I was left with the impression that it was a *really* big deal whatever it was that happened but no real information was ever disclosed.  A lot of people were shocked when this person said something years later about having been in Bangladesh.  They had no idea.  I can't help but wonder now if this is the story of what was going on.  The first time I read anything of it I asked my husband-Do you suppose this is what was always bothering so and so?  Why so and so never said anything about being there or anything about the mission work there?

Background checks

Churches failing to keep up with regular background checks are playing with fire. Get it done!

Bad Even Worse

Bad. It's worse. It was not just Ketchum. Allegations were made against Ketchum's son and Another missionary ie they were passing the gals around. Plus their were allegations that went back to the fifties that dealt with the same site. Even ABWE found the allegations against this Other missionary credible per info put up by the victims  

Throw in the new Sex Predators that PI found and that ABWE dragged their feet on reporting right up to 2014/15 it is a JOKE.  I can't believe ABWE is still supported by GARBS related institutions, but it figures.  As I have said before I respect BJU and it's related churches more because at least they don't operate undercover like some GARBS do. It's called being deceitful.  

Correction: The GARBC does not have "approved agencies"

Joeb wrote:
 I can't believe ABWE is still supported by GARBS related institutions, but it figures. 

Correction: The GARBC does not have "approved agencies" - ended more than a decade ago [ I can't find the date ]

------------ Update ---------------

Ended in 2000

When the GARBC dropped its formal approval of mission agencies in 2000 ...

On nuking ABWE

Don't do it, brothers.  The hammer is dropping on ABWE for the same reasons it dropped on the BSA, the Catholic church, public schools, daycares, and a host of others.  Before the 1990s, pretty much nobody knew how to handle this.  (my neighbors were molested by a teacher in the early convictions....I've seen that up close, and my college roommate's pastor had the same thing happen in the 1960s in the BSA)

The reason we don't want to nuke ABWE is because ABWE's culture is borrowed from the churches which produced her missionaries; our churches.  If you simply get rid of ABWE, our churches are simply going to assume the problem is solved because ABWE is gone--and our culture that gave birth to ABWE's culture is going to remain intact for the hammer to drop on us.

ABWE may yet commit suicide by not taking this seriously.  Time will tell.  But they can show our churches the way by adopting a model like that of the Boy Scouts, where victimization has been virtually stopped by their policies.  In the same way, we can show ABWE and others the way by doing about the same.   And in light of Romans 13, it's Biblical, too.  Don't be satisfied with background checks--they're a great start, but a lot more is needed.

Put another way, the Gospel is not about execution for sin, but about forgiveness for sin after sincere repentance and, where possible, restitution.  No?  

Bert Something Has To Be Done For the Victims $$$$$

Bert it's also Biblical for the victims to be made whole regarding money irregardless of the statute of limitations. Zachious said he would make his victims whole to the tune four times what he stole from them. 

Victim 1 should never have to work again or worry about anything.  We are talking millions here Bert.  Until that part of the equation is satisfied I see no restoration of ABWE.  If nuking them gets the victims money so be it.   I do agree a better way of showing the supporting churches the right way is by reforming ABWE.  

In light of the above we're taliking many Pastors confessing their involvement of Bill Gothard.  Based on the information I have seen Godly Wendall and most of his staff along with the former President of the board were Gothardites and practiced his solutions to handling sex abuse to the T.  I know a  GARB  church in Indiana whose principal key Elder was a Gothardite.  Heard him confirm it at my prior church in person.  The former ABWE President of the Board was spouting Gothard's leadership info as recent as 2012.  Until these Pastors and other men in leadership admit  their involvement in the Satanic Cult of Gothard in a very public way and ask forgiveness any restoration in my mind is a non starter hence nuke ABWE.   



I understand the gospel is about grace and forgiveness, but we also have to weigh justice here.  I think the only possibly just solution for ABWE's actions would be to shut it down.

Yes, I realize that there will be fallout for non-associated ABWE staff like the switchboard operators and admin. assistants or retired missionaries that were in Germany.  I hate to affect them, but the ABWE did this to themselves as a whole.  It's terrible for the non-involved, but necessary.

I understand your reasons for not 'nuking' ABWE, but I disagree.  I think we should nuke it - from orbit - as a testimony to the fact that we do take the glory of God very seriously, that we do not - and should not - ever tolerate this kind of sin while the civil authorities do their respective work.

I think Ephesians 5:3-12 applies here.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin 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

Another path

My take is that instead of just nuking it, churches ought to own it.  Admit OK, we screwed up big time, and proceed to use the PII report to offer, as churches, assistance to the victims.  I'm guessing there are dozens.  Name the factors--maybe Gothardism, maybe something else--that led to it, and explain why this will tend to end up with a Donn Ketcham kind of thing.  

Reform our theology to push out things like Gothardism--long over due in my book, really--and if any portion of ABWE survives, maybe even a monument of a millstone at HQ and in Bangladesh and Michigan to remind people what happens when God's people go wrong in the way you'll see monuments to the Holocaust all over Europe.  Or, for that matter, Catholic churches put a memorial for aborted babies in their graveyards.  We screwed it up, we own it, never again, all that. 

Put gently, though it would take a genius lawyer to push things back to our churches as things now stand, our churches created ABWE, and morally and ethically speaking, we own it.  And since ABWE does not have enough resources to help and compensate victims, guess who gets to clean up the stable?

The example that comes to mind for me is the Corinthians and the man sleeping with his father's wife.  The church created an atmosphere of acceptance of fornication, it led to ever-worse sins, and the man was expelled for a time, and welcomed back upon repentance.  The church was guilty, but was not nuked.  Let God take away the lightless lampstands, no?

Low Information

I would venture the assertion that many/most of the churches with ABWE missionaries either don't know or don't want to deal with this situation in hopes it will go away. I make this statement based on contacts I've had with such churches since this whole matter started festering....and that was years before it became public knowledge.


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

It Must Go Away

Yes, this is what I've heard, too. I wouldn't want to deal with ABWE after this. How can they be trusted? This is a pattern of stupidity going back decades. I will not apologize for calling those responsible for this, at the local and national ABWE level, stupid. They acted like idiots.  I suspect their motivation was "CYA," with a nice gloss of Christian piety. I've seen it my entire professional life. Christians are like anybody else when caught with an embarrassing, publicly damaging problem. Minimize, hide, solve "internally." Bad move, boys.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


pg. 243:

ABWE records indicate that there were Principle and Practice policies and other guidelines in place from ABWE’s beginning to the present. These guiding documents were in place to instruct its members in proper conduct for the protection of the organization and its purposes around the world. On multiple occasions, Donn Ketcham was in violation of both the spirit and the letter of these instructions. His peers were often animated in their frustration over his behavior. His supervisors were aware, by their own statements, of decades of his violations. Even though his violations were tolerated and/or treated via counseling and discipline, he continued to be allowed to return to the field to violate again. His return to the field over and over was organizationally preferential. Others contemporary to him were not afforded the same treatment, in some cases for lesser violations. ABWE’s consistent tolerance of his ongoing violations is tragic in light of the abuse he was perpetrating on the field

Idiots. Weak leaders. Cowards.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


pg. 249:

The Executive Administrator for the Far East, Russell Ebersole, having determined the veracity of the allegations made by the 13-14 year old missionary kid (MK) victim/survivor, he made no report to law enforcement or state medical authorities. No ABWE representatives made such a report, though documents indicate that they were aware of the requirement. More importantly, a few days later, after Donn Ketcham had actually confessed to pedophilia, no report was made.

Idiots. Weak leaders. Cowards. Criminals.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


pg. 253:

c. 2012, the ABWE Interim President, E. Alan Cockrell gave a child abuse investigation update, wherein he stated, "We have acknowledged that people in leadership positions made decisions that were unwise and unacceptable. These include:

  • The signing of a confession by the first known victim
  • The insistence the victim ask forgiveness of the perpetrator
  • The failure to investigate fully the first reported incident to determine if there were other victims
  • The failure to fully inform the sending and supporting churches of the specific nature of Donn Ketcham’s sin
  • The failure to fully investigate when the MK’s informed ABWE of additional victims
  • Lack of notification of all appropriate authorities
  • By using the phrase moral failure, we failed to clearly identify the sin as child abuse
  • The inadequate response to those MK’s who sought help from ABWE."

"Unwise." Yes, sort of like how a serial killer has a "lapse of judgment." Idiots. Note well the deliberate minimization of personal responsibility with these polite terms. This is quite common.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


pg. 264:

Russell Ebersole’s notes provided to ABWE Attorney Donald Davis, dated March 19, 2011, state, "July 28, 1989 Several questions were raised at ME Conference prior to our trip to Bangladesh; This is a criminal offense. Is Pastor [the 13-14 year old missionary kid (MK)’s pastor] obligated to tell the police? AMA–They would be concerned about Donn’s practicing in the US. We need legal counsel–how liable are we?"

Evidence indicates that the "ME Conference" actually occurred on July 18, 1989 and was a meeting with ABWE President Wendell Kempton, Russell Ebersole, Russell Lloyd and others that demonstrated ABWE’s awareness of criminal and medical reporting requirements. In spite of ABWE’s awareness and Donn Ketcham’s confession of child sexual abuse, no reports were made at that time.

In 1996 and 1997, several adults with leadership responsibility at ABWE were aware of additional alleged victim/survivors of Donn Ketcham. Although one of these individuals reported the alleged abuse to ABWE President Wendell Kempton, there is no evidence that ABWE made any attempt to report the allegations to law or medical authorities.

In 2002, ABWE administrative leadership and board leadership were aware of additional alleged victim/survivors; however no attempt was made to report these allegations.

This is a systemic failure of leadership, moral character, courage and common decency on a massive scale, throughout the organization. Stupid fools. There are no other appropriate words. Anything less is just so much wagon-circling.

I have learned something fundamental in the military, in ministry, and in state government. Most people are weak. They may be good people, but they're weak. Don't make a weak man your Pastor. Don't let weak men lead your organizations. Degrees and certifications can't get to moral character, and plain guts to make tough decisions. Don't hire a wimp to be your Pastor or the leader of your missionary organization. This crisis was brought about by foolish, weak men. Where was the strong personality who could have put a stop to this madness? Apparently, at ABWE, they didn't have strong men - just stupid pussycats. Shame on you all.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

The reason I would be more in

The reason I would be more in favor of shutting it down is that there are still some toxic elements within certain fields areas who have leaders that are more about maintaining the toxic status quo (controlling information, cover-ups, victim-blaming) rather than go through the painful process of completely changing the culture of the organization.  While certain fields are healthy, others are supervised by more the old-guard where certain leaders are more interested in protecting ABWE's reputation (and their own) than the victim.  I am good friends of a former ABWE missionary family that was recently sent home when their 13 year old son was physically hit by an adult 18 year old MK on the field.  It was handled very much like how they handled the Ketchum abuse incident.  It was minimized/shoved under the rug as if nothing happened and when the parents protested, the leader of the field blamed the victim and the Missionary family, did everything to control the information, and has done everything to cover it up and eventually forced them off the field. Even though it was a smaller incident and  didn't even come close to the level of abuse that the MK's suffered at the hands of Dr. Ketcham, the way it was handled does not give me any confidence that the culture has changed throughout the entire organization.  At the same time, I am grieved because I have several good friends in field areas of ABWE where the culture is very healthy.  

Some thoughts:

Some thoughts:

1.  The part of the story where Loftis got on his knees and tore his shirt in front of a representative victim as a visible sign of repentance, that was truly crazy.  

2.  There was a time when it was not a part of most people's m.o. to treat child sexual abuse as a criminal matter.  Looking back, it seems sick, but for some reason it was treated differently.  I remember a young cousin being abused by a baby sitter and hearing my aunt tell my mother that they didn't want to report it to the police in order to save the child from further humiliation.  I also remember a teacher in my Christian school of whom it was open knowledge that he had done something inappropriate to a male student, he got fired, but it was not reported to the police.  These cases were both in the 80's.    

3.  Do background checks, but background checks do nothing about the person who has yet to be caught.  Jerry Sandusky (Penn State) would have passed a back ground check until 2011-2012 (time of his arrest and conviction).  Other measures also need to be instituted.  For example: a male ministry worker should never be alone with a woman who is not family, or with children who aren't his family.  Hopefully, we don't live in a world as naive as things were when Ketchum carried on his abuse in Bangladesh.  I wouldn't leave my daughters alone with an adult male, not even one I had no reason not to trust.  That wariness is a result of cases like Ketchum and Sandusky.  Before these things happened, many people probably never thought that such things would/could happen.

4.  I have a low opinion of ABWE.  As a church with ABWE missionaries, our support supports the mission since they take a % of every missionaries support.  The last two presidents were fired with little explanation.  I know that some HR issues demand privacy, but couldn't some details be given to dispel any suspicions that churches might have as to why.  ABWE has some reputation rebuilding to do, but there has been zero outreach to churches and pastors to let us know how ABWE has changed.  Perhaps they have changed, but what strategy do they have to get the word out?  If they are doing something, it isn't very effective.    


pg. 5:

Prior to the current Pii investigation, ABWE first initiated an internal investigation of these same issues in 2002. The internal investigation was conducted by ABWE in-house counsel over the course of approximately nine years, but was never completed

This is otherwise known as "whitewash." I wonder why it was never completed . . . Here is a clue - internal investigations don't work. This is why state, federal governments and military branches typically have an independent investigatory arm of its own (i.e. an Inspector General) to look into internal fraud, waste and abuse. Know why? 'Cuz people (gasp) usually aren't very objective when they investigate themselves!  

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

5 whys

One of the more powerful tools in understanding a process--or an organization--is to engage in "5 whys" analysis.  If you get to five whys, or even close, you are generally a lot closer to your root causes.  For example.

Problem: things were not reported to police.  Why?

Answer: because people were weak and afraid to report them.  

Why were they weak and afraid to report them?

Answer: Possibly multiple factors.  Did ABWE select for weak missionaries?  Did churches select for weak missionaries?  Were missionaries trained to be weak by their churches?  Other factors?

path 1: Why and how did ABWE and churches select for weak missionaries?

We have a culture of the big man in our churches who does not share authority well.  We select for weak missionaries by making sure they get along with the big man.

Why do we have a culture of the big man in our churches and mission agencies?

Historically, we've been led that way and never thought anything of it.

How can we fix this?

Now that's the $64000 question, isn't it?

Why and how did churches train their most "spiritual" people to be weak?

Historically, we've had a culture of big men in our churches who do not share authority well.


Your version may differ from mine; that's fine.  But at a certain point, as long as ABWE was getting people from our churches, part of the problem will necessarily be ours.  It's also worth noting that in our culture, we have a habit of extending the "right boot of fellowship" and thinking everything is OK when leather has met rear end.  That's why it's critical that we don't just walk ABWE to Jack Kervorkian's Microbus; we've got some things to deal with here, too. 


pg. 11:

During its in-house investigation, ABWE received substantial evidence that there were additional minor victims of sexual abuse by Donn Ketcham. However, ABWE failed to report Donn Ketcham’s abuse of the additional minor victims to law enforcement or medical authorities, partially in the belief that it was too late do so and/or that U.S. authorities lacked jurisdiction over the abuse because it occurred overseas. The evidence shows that the preliminary findings of ABWE’s internal investigation were not accurate which is more fully explained within this report.

Wow. It's almost as if internal investigations aren't very objective . . .

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Absolutely vile and

Absolutely vile and reprehensible. Shut down the ABWE and punish anyone complicit to the full extent of the law. I feel bad for any current ABWE staff or missionaries who had no knowledge but it needs to be shut down.


My son wants to be a missionary. He has for some time. I will steer him towards BMM or BWM. We were looking at ABWE. No more.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

Jonathan Don't Excuse Them

Jonathan were not talking about a little touchy feely  by a 58 year old man.  We are talking  about a 58 year old monster who even  in those days a non Christian would recognize it as a heinous Criminal act. You are talking about outright rape and keeping  a twelve year old for two years for weekly oral sex and  masterbation. Get Real.  Maybe in the circles you were in but never in any ones  I

Godly Wendall and the others are without excuse.  If caught they all would have done life.   This is no rinky dinky small deal Charles. The prisoners would have killed Ketchum within one week and Wendall would have been the life time boyfriend of Bubba.  What is more sad is prisoners being murders drug dealers and Serial Killers have more morals in this area then anyone at ABWE.  Their code is YOU DON'T MESS WITH KIDS OTHERWISE YOU GET SHANKED.

Wendall and the others could have consulted the FBI.  If they did here is what would have happened.  Tyler correct me if I'm wrong.

 1 they would have locked down the whole hospital with a platoon of marines.

2.  The FBI would put a team together and along with Victim 1 would have flown to Bangladesh with the a few chosen ABWE personnel.  The FBI would have immediately contacted Victim 1 parents and would have interviewed her with her parents listening.  

3. Once the FBI team team and Bangladesh Officials were in place they would conduct their investigation.  Ketchum and any other Perp would have a US Marine Babysitter who would not allow him to communicate with anyone but his wife Attorney or Pastor/Counseler unless he wanted to leave which I doubt the Bangladesh Officials would allow.  In fact in Bangladesh they might jail him for investigation.  

4. The investigation would be pursued to charge the perps under US law or Bangladesh law. If Ketchum was convicted and left to rot in a Bangladesh prison to bad.   

Now some of you may think this is harsh but you must realize what Ketchum did is one step below 1st and 2nd degree murder.  Also covering up such heinous crime is called aiding and abetting ie your guilty of every sex act the Perp did as if you did it.  

Now as far as monuments first they should allow the victims a day to take sledge hammers to the monument these NUTS put up on Wendall's grave. Also get 20 buckets of horse and cow poop and pee to poor all over his grave. It could be billed as a fund  rasier for the victims.  Good start in the right direction. 

Sorry guys could not help myself.  


pg. 133:

February, 2013: G.R.A.C.E. was terminated by ABWE just weeks before their final report was complete based on allegations by ABWE that they had "committed a myriad of investigative flaws." G.R.A.C.E. pointed out in their response on February 11, 2013, that ABWE had repeatedly failed to comply with their contractual obligations to G.R.A.C.E. "These contractual breaches included repeated objections to providing requested documents and the failure to provide documents in a timely manner, if at all. ABWE further breached the contract by failing to provide G.R.A.C.E. with access to critical witnesses associated with … organization. ABWE’s contractual breaches needlessly delayed this investigation and impaired our ability to fully evaluate ABWE’s response to the crimes perpetrated by Donn Ketcham. When placed in the context of ABWE’s conduct over the past 20 months, the termination of G.R.A.C.E. strongly suggests ABWE is unwilling to have itself investigated unless the investigation is with (ABWE) control. We pray this is not the case."

Stonewalling. Whitewash. Stupidity.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


pg. 149:

"He routinely took advantage of his position as their doctor to put these young teenage women (and younger) into situations where their sexual privacy and sexual person were exposed far in excess of what was necessary or required for the exam." "In necessary medical exams or illnesses, he was grossly inappropriate in some exams and methodologies, violating the girls’ sense of sexual/bodily privacy and, in so doing, humiliating them." "This was the ‘culture of child abuse’ that existed at Malumghat, a pattern in which appropriate and inappropriate medical care by the same doctor existed together, making it difficult for the lay person to sort out which was which. Only in retrospect and given the separate testimonies of about 10 individual affected women does the insidious larger picture of sexual abuse begin to come into focus." "He showed a pattern of inappropriate violation of their modesty and sexual privacy in the process of and in the guise of legitimate medical care."

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


pg. 151:

Fourteen medical personnel who served in Bangladesh were interviewed and all stated, with slight variations, that medical procedures conducted by Donn Ketcham were unethical, inappropriate, medically unsound, and were sometimes done with no one else present.

Why did they say nothing? Cowardice. The same reason why, for example, church members are reluctant to support disciplinary action against another church member. They're weak people who "don't want to get involved." Oh, they'll talk about it to each other, and whisper about how "something ought to be done." Will they actually report anything? No.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


Pgs 165ff:

Ronald Berrus. As Chairman of the ABWE Board, Ronald Berrus had a responsibility to be accurate, honest and open in his communications according to ABWE’s Principles and Practices. He also had a responsibility to avoid misrepresentation and deception as he represented ABWE. These responsibilities may have been violated when Ronald Berrus went against some Board members’ requests for open and honest communication in the public release announcement of Michael Loftis’ termination. In weighing his responsibility to make truthful statements, Ronald Berrus states that he did not care what others thought, but was determined to protect Michael Loftis.

E. Alan Cockrell served as ABWE’s Interim President beginning June 2011. The findings of the investigation are that he faithfully magnified his responsibilities during the time he served.

William Commons. There is a Preponderance of Evidence that William Commons failed in light of ABWE Principles and Practices and his administrative responsibilities. William Commons served as the ABWE Director of Mobilization and later the ABWE Administrator of the Far East, including Bangladesh, spanning two decades, beginning in 1980. This heightened level of responsibility as an administrator increased his responsibility to act. During this time period William Commons was informed by an ABWE Bangladesh medical missionary that Donn Ketcham "should be charged with child abuse." She substantiated her accusation with a package of medical records which she attempted to deliver to William Commons. William Commons declined to accept the material. There is no evidence that William Commons took any steps to report this information to ABWE administration or to appropriate authorities.

Donald Davis. There is a Preponderance of Evidence that Donald Davis failed in light of ABWE Principles and Practices. In July 2002, Donald Davis was charged with investigating the allegations that there were a number of other victim/survivors of Donn Ketcham. By his admission, this investigation was neglected and incomplete. He stated that two things led to the challenge and abandonment of the investigation. First, he did not pause his other responsibilities to devote full-time to the investigation. Secondly, during the course of the investigation, the 13-14 year old missionary kid (MK) victim/survivor, who had been a victim in 1989, surfaced at ABWE, and the administrative team ministered to her over a period of several years. Additionally, he did not record notes of his conversations or notes of his phone calls. He stated: "I would characterize my investigation as woefully incomplete ...."

Joseph DeCook. There is a Preponderance of Evidence that Joseph DeCook failed in light of ABWE Principles and Practices and in light of his medical stewardship. Joseph DeCook, a gynecologist with 40 years of experience and a peer of Donn Ketcham’s, states that he had knowledge of the examinations Donn Ketcham was performing at the time they were occurring. He further states that these examinations were an "invasion of the girls’ private sexual world in the guise of medical care."

Russell Ebersole. There is a Preponderance of Evidence that Russell Ebersole failed in light of ABWE Principles and Practices and his administrative responsibilities.

Lawrence Fetzer. There is a Preponderance of Evidence that Lawrence Fetzer failed in light of ABWE Principles and Practices and his administrative responsibilities as a Board member and as the Pastoral Counselor selected to conduct counseling sessions along with Russell Lloyd for Donn Ketcham and Pauline "Kitty" Ketcham. Lawrence Fetzer primarily directed the counseling that Donn Ketcham and Pauline "Kitty" Ketcham received in 1988. This counseling was after the inappropriate relationships with three adult women and was a result of being caught with the third. It was also after the abuse of multiple young girls and young women under the guise of medical care, though there is no evidence that this fact was known at the time of the counseling. Importantly, the counseling was prior to the sexual abuse of the 13-14 year old missionary kid (MK) victim/survivor. It is the failure of this counseling that resulted in Donn Ketcham being cleared to return to the field as a 58 year old man where he would sexually abuse the 13-14 year old missionary kid (MK) victim/survivor over a period of several months.

Nancy Hepworth. There is a Preponderance of Evidence that Nancy Hepworth did not fulfill her responsibility as ABWE Child Safety Officer when she began serving in that position in November 2010 until the blog was launched in March 2011 when allegations of additional victims became broadly known and the Board shortly thereafter assumed all responsibility for matters related to Donn Ketcham. According to the job description she created, the Child Safety Officer was to examine allegations for credibility and make an official report, either internally or externally, which she did not do. Nancy Hepworth stated that she should have initiated an investigation into the allegations of abuse of additional ABWE MK victim/survivors by Donn Ketcham, but she did not do so at the time.

Wendell Kempton. There is a Preponderance of Evidence that Wendell Kempton failed in light of ABWE Principles and Practices as ABWE’s highest-level administrator, President and Chairman of the Board. The decisions and statements made by Wendell Kempton over decades had a profound and long-lasting negative impact on numerous victim/survivors and their families. Wendell Kempton was President of ABWE for 30 years, from 1971 to 2001 . . . If at any juncture, Wendell Kempton had removed Donn Ketcham from the field of missionary service, subsequent abuse of ABWE children and adults could not have occurred.

The report just keeps listing names. As I said, a systemic failure at every level. I haven't the foggiest idea how ABWE is run now. But, this paints a picture of startling idiocy, ineptitude, timidity, stupidity, incompetence, and moral degeneracy. I'm not certain the organization deserves to exist anymore. This evening, I may pray for it to die.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.

What could have been done complicated by the fact that it's in Bangladesh; it would not have been an FBI team locking it down, but probably a DOJ extradition request, if indeed Ketchum could have been tried for anything stateside.  Of that I am not sure.  Now it's possible, but not so much in the 1980s. 

Or what might have been done is for him to go to a Bangladeshi jail as the DOJ and State reported it to Bangladeshi authorities, upon which he would have experienced some things that would make what Joe B. describes seem quite mild in comparison, I'd guess.   

Again, the only reason ABWE should survive after this is simply because it is a creation of our churches--we need this example to drive our own cultural changes.  Millstone monuments all around.

Yes Bert Its Highly Likely A FBI Team Would Be There

Bert with that many Americans its highly likely there would be a FBI Team Sent.  Whether they would or would not of Godly Wendell should have consulted them and had them interview Victim 1. Then if they made a decision of non involvement Wendall was off the hook, but I extremely doubt they would have not taken any action  

The FBI Agents in Philadelphia I knew at that time would have pursued it with a vengeance to see (excuse the French ) that Scum Bag Ketchum locked up for life. They probably would have added Philadelphia Police Detectives from the Sex Crimes Unit and Counslers for the victims to the team. Also there is no way Bangladesh would have not let them in. Bangladesh would have bent over backwards for the United States.  

So Bert something could have been done and the FBI would have called the shots.  In fact I know an FBI Agent who I'm very confident Wendall knew because he was an Elder in one of the two churches that were tied to the hip with ABWE when it was in South Jersey.  In fact the Pastor of one of the churches that the FBI Agent was an Elder in  was Wendall best of buddies.  How do you think this guy probably got a Senior Pastor position right out of Seminary.  Same way another person I know very well got his Pastor position right out of Seminary.  Alah Wendall.  The second one I know for a fact.  Anyway Wendall was without excuse he had Avenues he could of drove right down but choose to act according to the teachings of Bill Gothard   If Sex Perp repents don't report it and call the victim a little tart.   How dare that little slut tempt poor Dr Kempton.  

PS  Pastor Berrius  had his own situation in his church school in 2013.  A fellow Alumnus and male friend of his who was Male Music Director liked to teach the young boys more then music and got 6 years in Pa.  Thank God the parents went right to the Pa State Police and not to Berrius based on his record above.  When this guy was going for sentencing a good portion of the congregation wrote letters asking the for judge not to put Perp in jail because he was such a nice guy and he needed to be home for his young wife and kids.  Wow you guys tell me what should be done. The Newspaper made it sound like the church was more concerned about the Perp then the victims ie the big response by the Church was out of character for the crime. 

Tyler I Feel The Same Way But Only If The Gals Get A Payoff

Tyler I feel the same way you do.  It must be the Police Dog in both of us. Bert is always a good logical thinker in these matters and I greatly appreciate his input.  Bert's spin in a lot threads are well thought out and said.  We can only pray that God's will be done.  I get a little heated because I'm closer to this matter then most. Let's say it's in the family.  

'Preponderance of Evidence'

Tyler has done a fair amount of work in citing the sections of the report that refer to officers having failed in their responsibilities due to a 'preponderance of evidence'.  That's a very important term, because it means that each individual officer and ABWE as an corporate entity could (and would) be found liable in a court of law for having failed in their legal responsibilities and would then be liable for civil damages.

preponderance of the evidence

A requirement that more then 50% of the evidence points to something.  This is the burden of proof in a civil trial.

For example: At the end of civil case A v. B, 51% of the evidence favors A.  Thus, A has a preponderance of the evidence, A has met their burden of proof, and A will win the case.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin 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

It MUST be Called Out & Named for What It Is

Some people would ask Tyler to stop posting selections from the ABWE report.  But I say, it needs to be done. 

It MUST be done. 

Weak, stupid, inept, naive, & outright arrogant leadership, especially in our church & para-church organizations, needs to be called out and named for what it is.  I don't mean we should engage in character assassination, but we MUST stop allowing these kinds of leaders to operate like this.  People's lives Matter.  Our children's lives matter.

I read the Republic article and thought it was fairly written.  I also felt like I needed to vomit less so at the appalling behavior of Ketchum, but much more so at the baffling stupidity, naivety, & absolute incompetence of the ABWE (cough) leadership at ALL levels.  The lives they knowingly allowed Ketchum to damaged and how they themselves directly added further damage. . . . I know we Christians are not supposed to sue other Christians, but if there ever was a case for a multi-million dollar suit against an organization and its leadership (i.e. the list Tyler posted above), even a Christian one, it is this case.

Excuse me while I go take a long shower.


Joe, I trust you here, but either I've misunderstood what federal law is towards crimes committed outside the country, or I'm somewhat nervous at the extent of where FBI jurisdiction might go.   Or could the FBI simply collect evidence to provide to Bangladeshi authorities?

I must admit as well that my experience with interacting with people from developing countries (Malaysia, China, and Thailand in my case, among colleagues from many other places in the developing world), there is a careful balance to be struck between "these are the things that the American can say that the native cannot but wants to" and "running roughshod over the culture there that will quietly or emphatically shut you down."  I am not quite sure I consistently got on the right side of that, as when I actually visited, I noticed a lot of things were quite different than what I'd heard in conference calls.  

One fun example is that when I was in Malaysia, a plant manager came by and noted that he was afraid of what I'd recommend next, upon which I noted that I had a working model of what we needed for years to come.  He was visibly relieved.

FBI and Jurisdiction

I also felt like I needed to vomit less so at the appalling behavior of Ketchum, but much more so at the baffling stupidity, naivety, & absolute incompetence of the ABWE (cough) leadership at ALL levels. 


As for jurisdiction - I'm not an attorney, but from what I understand, the US government has jurisdiction over any US citizen anywhere in the world for Federal crimes, like child abuse. From what I understand, the state of Pennsylvania (where ABWE is located) can also prosecute for state criminal code offenses.  TylerR, is that correct?

See US Code:

18 U.S. Code § 3231 - District courts

The district courts of the United States shall have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the courts of the States, of all offenses against the laws of the United States.

Nothing in this title shall be held to take away or impair the jurisdiction of the courts of the several States under the laws thereof.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 826.)

The issue is usually getting their hands on that person.  Since all of the leadership of ABWE is located in the continental United States, I don't think that arresting the appropriate parties would be that difficult; they could probably do it today (or any other workday) if they so chose.

Ketcham is already sitting in a jail cell, so that's one down.  Time to gather the rest.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin 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

Federal crimes

Jay, the key there is "federal crimes", specifically federal crimes which can be committed outside our borders.  Now we do have one that, had it existed back then, would have sufficed, the criminalization of sex tourism of around 2003.  Another such law prohibits the transport of minors across state borders for immoral purposes--that put Jack Schaap in jail.  Neither seems to quite apply here, unless there's something I don't know and ought to.

Otherwise, crimes against children are generally defined by the states, and limited to crimes within state borders.  At any case, you've got a number of barriers to prosecution or even civil suits, from not that much assets in ABWE ($8 million a few years back) to statutes of limitations and issues of jurisdiction.  

Now perhaps a sharp lawyer will figure out a good workaround, but otherwise, it strikes me that at this point the best thing to be done is for ABWE to have an "apology tour" where the President and others apologize in person (if possible) to the victims for what's gone on, see what they can allocate to counsel for them (no strings attached), and make some strategic hires to see if they can greatly change the culture--per Joel's comments, really.  

Bonus; go to supporting churches and share what they've learned--why, as Tyler notes, people were weak and unwilling to report, unwilling to take a stand, and the like.  Own the culture, reform it, help others to change it too.  

VERY hard to do, VERY hard to sustain.  But I think they've got to try, or at least the supporting churches do.  Much easier, ironically, if the disgraced ABWE leads.


pgs. 192ff:

Analysis indicates that there existed, and in some cases exist today, typically unspoken beliefs and attitudes within ABWE that were revealed through the investigation by way of documents and interviews – beliefs and attitudes that contributed to missionary family and ABWE administrative lack of awareness, lack of responsiveness, and poor decision-making regarding policy violations and abuse behaviors and events. The root causes of significant impact include:

1. There existed a prevailing attitude toward authority in evangelical circles, primarily that there was a "spirituality" standard that required unquestioning compliance with authority. This attitude prevented the development of a healthy system of checks and balances and openness to corrective actions. Critical thinking skills were suspended.

2. There existed a focus on ministry as being the top priority. Individual needs and voices tended to be dismissed in the service of the "greater good", i.e. ministry and the spread of the Gospel.

3. There existed a prevailing attitude about the status of women in the work place. Especially in the historical time period under investigation women were considered "support" personnel. As such, their opinions and observations carried less weight and were easier to dismiss and ignore. Because women were considered of lesser value, it was easier to "send them home" and/or remove them from the mission, i.e. Donn Ketcham’s lovers over the decades.

5. There existed a prevailing belief that missionaries are "more spiritual" than the average Christian, and because of their "sacrifices" are "entitled." This creates a vulnerability to and blindness about wrongful (and even criminal) behaviors, i.e. a tolerance of Donn Ketcham using inappropriate sexual joking and bragging about his sexual exploits with National women.

7. There existed an idealization of Donn Ketcham, a doctor, whose charisma garnered many dollars for ABWE and blinded many people to his true character, i.e."How could such a wonderful man who did so much for the Ministry be that bad? was an oft reported sentiment."

9. There existed a conflict between administering ABWE as a faith-based entity (grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, etc.) versus a corporate/business entity (with protective policies and procedures in place, governance checks and balances, etc.).

11. There existed a culture of naiveté, due in large part to the underlying mistaken belief that "abuse doesn’t happen in Christian circles."

My responses:

  • #1: Stupid. I think this is a product of being raised in a harmful fundamentalist sub-culture. This isn't rational behavior.
  • #2: Naive and stupid. People have an amazing capacity for self-delusion and twisted rationalization.
  • #3: Nasty attitude. Stupid.
  • #5: This belief is fostered by the same idiotic fundamentalist sub-culture of "big men."
  • #7: Believe it. People in ministry can be quite evil, and completely unregenerate. How can you go through life being so naive?
  • #9: ABWE was stupid. Idiotic. Incompetent. Hope it dies for this. I spoke with my wife last night. Our son will never go anywhere near ABWE. I will tell everybody how evil it is for the rest of my entire life. The day it goes down in flames I'll rejoice.
  • #11: What rock do you live under? Heard of something called . . .  wait for it . . . total depravity?

I'm not surprised by anything that anybody does. People do evil things. Look around you. Don't be shocked. Don't be naive. Yes, it can happen at your church.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


pg. 203:

Throughout the course of the Donn Ketcham investigation, the selective use of the terms "moral failure" and "immorality" have had a significant impact. Transcripts, print evidence and documentation generated by ABWE missionaries, directors, and board members have often discussed "moral failure" and "immorality" in direct reference to Donn Ketcham, as well as in reference to other ABWE missionaries through history. In the Donn Ketcham matter, the usage of these terms has contributed to confusion, misrepresentation, and deceit.

As the report goes on to make clear, polite and deceitful phrases like "moral failure" were deliberately used by ABWE leadership to obscure the real issue - the man was a pedophile, sexual predator whom they were actively protecting and sheltering.

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


pgs. 225ff:

The report concludes ABWE leadership coerced a "confession" from Ketchum's first 13 yr-old victim. Here it is:

I, [the 13-14 year old missionary kid (MK) victim/survivor], have confessed to my pastor and his wife, Dr. Russ Ebersole, and Dr. Russ Lloyd that I have participated in a physical relationship with Dr. Don [sic] that transgressed God’s Word and that was not pleasing to Him.

Beginning in September of 1988 and continuing into March of 1989 for a total of approximately twelve times, Dr. Ketcham and I would meet alone in the hospital examining room or in his house. During those times we engaged in one or more of the following kinds of physical behavior:…[information omitted to protect the victim/survivor]

I have not wanted to hurt anyone in doing this or in confessing to it, but I know what I did was very wrong, and I am very sorry for it. I have asked God’s forgiveness, and I know He has forgiven me. I pray that He will help me and others through this time, and that I will become the person God wants me to be.

What despicable scum these men are. 

TylerR is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs here.


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