New Republic Picks Up Donn Ketcham Story

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TylerR's picture

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 . . .

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

josh p's picture

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.

TylerR's picture

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.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Joeb's picture

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.  

TylerR's picture

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.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

TylerR's picture

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."

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

TylerR's picture

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.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

TylerR's picture

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.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Bert Perry's picture

....is 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.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

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. 

Joeb's picture

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.  

Jay's picture

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 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

mmartin's picture

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.

Bert Perry's picture

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.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

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. 

^That

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 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

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.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

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.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

TylerR's picture

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.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

TylerR's picture

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. 

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Bert Perry's picture

One objection I've got to the new child protection policy is in section 3.6, page 2, is that the specific punishment for violation the policy is at the discretion of ABWE.  Really, that's the exact same thing that got them into this hole to begin with, and when you're taking people 10,000 miles away from their relatives, friends, and other support structures in Bangladesh, you've got to be a little bit stricter on the rules because the ordinary fear one will have in such a situation will be magnified--and it's going to lead to hiding things, downplaying them, etc..  I've recently taken part in writing a child protection policy here, and there are simply some things where I've insisted on "shall" instead of "may" for this very reason.  

And really, if we consider any missionary effectively an elder, then we're really at the same point we ought to be regarding divorced pastors; erring on the side of protection of the sheep.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

One objection I've got to the new child protection policy(link is external) is in section 3.6, page 2, is that the specific punishment for violation the policy is at the discretion of ABWE.  

As opposed to what? Who else would handle the punishment for violation of the policy?

Bert Perry's picture

It's not that ABWE is doing it at all.  It's that they describe the consequences as "at their discretion."  In other words, they might decide to handle the case of a doctor caught in adultery differently from the summer missionary he was caught sleeping with.

This is exactly what got them into this problem!  You've got to have some things for which there is automatic expulsion.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

You've got to have some things for which there is automatic expulsion.

Wow, how much a few weeks changes things. But I digress ... 

There is, in this document, a long laundry list of violations. Not all of them would be handled the same. Thus, the discretion is employed. An employee who buys a hamburger for a child not their own will be handled differently that one who sexually abuses a child. Yet both are violations of this policy. And there may be a good reason to handle the doctor different than the summer missionary. I think the point is that not all violations are the same and thus they cannot all be handled the same.

Bert Perry's picture

It's just that a missionary is an elder, a great difference between that and a high school student. His first offenses were adulterous in a place where he was taking advantage of people 10,000 miles from home and lonely and scared.  If that's not reason for expulsion, what is?

Good quality systems in this case leave a lot less room for negotiation.  ABWE is setting the stage for the next problems.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

For all the world it looks like a change. I suppose grace only goes so far. I don't think all missionaries are necessarily elders and I don't think that really matters in this case. I think Ketcham should have been expelled and prosecuted. But the point is that a document like this is not the place to lay out the disciplinary scheme. And in many cases, it is unwise to have a "one size fits all" consequence scheme simply because not all violations are sins, not all violations or sins are the same, and not all participants are the same. It is often better to have some flexibility in some of these areas. Again, someone who buys dinner for a child of another family and someone who molests a child have both violated this policy. It would be wrong to treat them the same. That's where discretion comes in. 

Bert Perry's picture

Larry, what I'm saying is that since ABWE staffers have, over a period of four decades and two continents at least, swept clear indications of adultery and child molestation under the rug, the policy needs to state clearly that they have NO DISCRETION in how to deal with it.  You expel both participants for adultery, anyone caught in any degree of sexual assault, and report any sexual assaults to authorities--and anyone caught sweeping it under the rug will suffer the same fate.

It's not saying that you treat molestation the same as a "grooming factor", but look at the document again.  It simply grants discretion to ABWE staffers that we already know has been abused.  DUMB, DUMB, DUMB.  They are at a point where they clearly need to spell these things out for the more serious offenses.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Julie Anne's picture

mmartin wrote:

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.

 

How can they be called Christians when they allowed this kind of harm to children?  I hope they do get sued.

Larry's picture

Bert, People who are involved in sexual immorality are fired or expelled from the mission.

The document is a different kind of document and serves a different purpose. it deals with much more than adultery or assault. It deals with things like excessive hugging of children, frontal hugs, and buying food for children not your own, carpools, sleepovers, etc. Those things require discretion. It would be unwise and impractical, if not impossible, to lay out a "one size fits all" consequence policy.

The document also requires all criminal activity to be reported to law enforcement. So the discretion is not where you say it is. It is highly doubtful that ABWE crafted this document in such as way as to allow them to keep the next Donn Ketcham and to claim "discretion" in doing so, particularly when ABWE clearly states that people involved in sexual immorality cannot continue with the mission. 

Jay's picture

There is, in this document, a long laundry list of violations. Not all of them would be handled the same. Thus, the discretion is employed. An employee who buys a hamburger for a child not their own will be handled differently that one who sexually abuses a child. Yet both are violations of this policy. And there may be a good reason to handle the doctor different than the summer missionary. I think the point is that not all violations are the same and thus they cannot all be handled the same.

Larry is right on this one.  You can't possibly build out rules that deal with every situation or permutation of one.  There are times when someone should receive a harsher penalty than someone else.  It's just the way things are, and I believe that God does the same thing on occasion in the New Testament - surely other people have lied to the Holy Spirit, but Ananias and Sapphira were killed for that.

I just have no faith that ABWE will avoid the errors (to put it mildly) of the past.

"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

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