SC- Abuse victims challenge Bob Jones U.
Abuse victims challenge Bob Jones U.
They want predators' names posted on line
School officials accused of concealing more allegations
Nationally prominent minister accused of child sex abuse
SNAP: “BJU should investigate whether its staff hid wrongdoing
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will prod Bob Jones University officials to
–launch an independent investigation into alleged cover-ups of child sex crimes and/or sexual harassment accusations that have surfaced recently against a nationally-known minister, and
–permanently post the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused sex offenders who are or have been at the university on the school's website.
1:00 pm Thursday, March 27
Outside Bob Jones University, 1700 Wade Hampton, corner of West Drive (on the edge of BJU) in Greenville SC
Two-three child sex abuse victims who live in South Carolina and who belong to an independent support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Earlier this month, a prominent Illinois-based Protestant minister, Rev. Bill Gothard, was put on administrative leave after as many as 34 women who worked for him said that he sexually harassed them. At least four women said that he molested them as youngsters, and Gothard also allegedly hid other crimes, according to a recent Washington Post article.
According to bloggers at Recovering Grace, “In 1980, two BJU officials (only one is named, a Rev. Van Gelderen) were summoned by Gothard to help him downplay a scandal that was about to overwhelm his multi-million dollar ministry. The two BJU men were used by Gothard in his attempt to hush up accusations of sexual harassment against Gothard’s brother.”
SNAP wants BJU to hire an outside firm to investigate the charges that two university staffers may have hidden alleged sexual crimes or misdeeds or other wrongdoing by Gothard or his brother.
Rev. Gothard headed the Institute In Basic Life Principles (IBLP). In the 1970s, Rev. Gothard regularly filled auditoriums across the US with attendance figures as large as ten thousand and more, according to Wikipedia.
The group acknowledges that, as best it can tell, there are no pending civil lawsuits or criminal investigations against Rev. Gothard. But SNAP notes that his own IBLP board asked him to step down in light of the dozens of allegations against him, some of which go back decades. Many of these reports surfaced first on a website called Recovering Grace.
SNAP also wants BJU officials to release the identities of all sex offenders (proven, admitted and credibly accused) who have worked at or attended the university and post them permanently on the school's web page. This, they say, would help prevent future crimes.
Roughly 30 US bishops have taken this step over the past decade.
In an email to SNAP leaders last month, BJU spokesman Randy Page (864-241-1634 |Rpage@bju.edu) ignored SNAP's requested, claiming only that “All known perpetrators of child sexual abuse have been reported to law enforcement.”
Page also told SNAP “We know of no current student, faculty or staff member who has been convicted of child sexual abuse or sexual assault.” That means, SNAP says, that school officials know of former staff and students who ARE convicted offenders. “For the safety of others – both adults and kids,” SNAP believes those names should be put on the BJU website. Religious institutions, “especially those who are accused of concealing crimes,” should be held to a higher disclosure standard than other organizations, SNAP says.
SNAP also stresses that sexual crimes should be reported to law enforcement by anyone who sees, suspects or suffers them. “To most victims this is a frightening prospect, but if innocent kids and vulnerable adults are to be protected, victims must somehow find the strength, courage and wisdom to call secular officials, not religious officials,” says SNAP outreach director Barbara Dorris.
Weeks ago, SNAP also criticized BJU officials for suspending their contract with G.R.A.C.E., a non-profit that was hired to look into how campus sex crimes are being handled at the university.
David Clohessy 314-566-9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com - Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003 firstname.lastname@example.org, - Cathy Winterfield 704-207-1300 email@example.com - Neal Evans 828-242-0059 or 828-299-3972 firstname.lastname@example.org
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