SC--Victims blast Bob Jones University over rape
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 31
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
Our hearts ache for the brave women and men who have been betrayed three times by Bob Jones officials who take few or no real steps to prevent rape, re-victimize rape victims who find the courage to report these heinous crimes, and now refuse to adopt recommendations to reform the school’s oppressive and hurtful practices around sexual violence.
(See new America Aljazeera story on The Abuse Tracker)
It’s appalling that school officials refuse, even now, to take any but a few small steps in response to the dozens of excellent recommendations made by GRACE, the independent non-profit that investigated campus sex crimes.
Perhaps most egregiously, for example, BJU president Steve Pettit insists on still using biased and unlicensed “counselors” to “treat” victims of sexual violence. This is cruel and self-serving. It’s a manipulative maneuver designed to help keep rape on the BJU campus a secret.
We understand the hopelessness that current and former BJU students and staff feel. We’ve experienced, time and time again, extraordinarily callous and reckless and hurtful treatment by self-serving church officials who put their reputations, comfort and careers over the safety of the vulnerable and the healing of the wounded.
All we can say is: Keep pushing. The incredible strength, courage and compassion of victims and their allies finally forced BJU to hire GRACE, forced BJU to “re-hire” GRACE when school officials back-pedaled, and forced BJU to address - even in this pathetic, insensitive way – the report’s recommendations.
The incredible strength, courage and compassion of victims and their allies has already made BJU safer – in spite of, not because of, the school hierarchy. And the incredible strength, courage and compassion of victims and their allies – if they persist - will eventually make BJU officials start acting with more decency and caution.
We urge parents to stop sending their children to BJU. We urge alums to stop donating to BJU. We urge current students and staff to keep pressuring the administration. We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered sexual violence or cover ups at BJU to call police, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing.
And we urge secular officials – in law enforcement and legislatures – to look long and hard at the continuing callousness of BJU officials and to re-double efforts to prevent, investigate and prosecute those who commit and conceal sexual violence on the school’s campus.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)