Barbra’s Story Part One: At Cookeville Christian School
Because Ted Anderson was a graduate student at Bob Jones University at the time he was allegedly abusing girls in the Christian school where he was the principal (his dissertation can be seen here) . . . because some of the alleged abuse allegedly took place on the BJU campus . . . because the church and school called on BJU for help in handling the situation with him when one of the girls spoke out about him . . . and because several of his alleged victims went on to attend Bob Jones University and receive counseling there, the particulars of the allegations against him are significant. Amie’s related post is here. Part two of Barbra’s account is here. Karen’s account is here.
Although the author of this post speaks for herself and tells her own story, BJUGrace, as her publishing platform, has sought to do due diligence, through documentation and written statements from several witnesses, to confirm to the best of our ability that her story is true and accurate.
CONTENT WARNING: Though graphic details may seem gratuitous to some, when the administrators of BJUGrace discussed this post, we determined that some details are necessary in order to help readers understand how abusers groom and abuse their victims. An environment of Christians who want to keep their minds unsullied by graphic details (in addition to being very trusting and very forgiving of those who present themselves well) is an environment in which abuse can flourish. However, if you are offended by graphic details, or if you believe you could be triggered by them, please consider yourself warned.
by Barbra Cuva, author of Chicks and a Chicken Hawk and Brood Clones University and When . . .
My first memory of Ted Anderson (Theodore Ellis Anderson) was shortly after he arrived at Cookeville Christian School in 1979 to become the new principal.
I was used to spending most of my time at CCS even before Ted came, since I lived only a block away, and the former principal’s daughter was my best friend. I was not allowed to associate with anyone outside of the church or school. We played at the church while her father worked. Even in the summer we were there. Of course we also attended Sunday school, Sunday morning church, Sunday evening church, Wednesday night prayer meeting and any other special revivals, BJU performances, missionary speakers, etc.
This was Calvary Baptist Church in Cookeville, Tennessee, where in 1972 Jon Jones (grandson of the founder of Bob Jones University) and his wife Betty were two of the six adult charter members. When the new church building at 950 North Old Kentucky Road was dedicated, Bob Jones Jr was the speaker.
I didn’t have a strong father figure. My grandfather was a disabled WWII veteran. I loved him dearly, and he was a wonderful man who showed me nothing but kindness, but his mind was very child-like in a lot of ways. He attended church, at first regularly, sometimes reluctantly, at points not much at all. My mother ruled the house, and was an extremely strong authoritarian.
When I started at CCS, I was the thirteenth student to be admitted to the school, which spanned kindergarten through twelfth grade. We used a program that had been developed for one-room schoolhouses like ours, ACE, Accelerated Christian Education, which meant we read a booklet on our own and then took a test on it, on our own. If we needed help, we put up our little flag, and the “monitor” was supposed to come help us.
At the time, I had no other world than life at church and school, and frankly it was a very small world. Even within our little school, we weren’t encouraged to socialize outside of school with those who didn’t go to Calvary Baptist Church.
I turned 14 the summer before Ted’s first year at CCS in 1979, when he was 32. I remember standing with “Mr. A” by the bookcase at the back of the one-room classroom inside our church. He was picking my first book to read. He chose Shakespeare’s King Lear. This was the first time I had read Shakespeare. I was proud of wading through it, as I was already a voracious reader but had not read anything of that caliber. I felt challenged. I remember I had to ask a lot of questions when I didn’t understand what the dialogue meant. I remember feeling uncomfortable with some of the incestuous subject matter, when I finally figured out what the book was saying.
But I felt comfortable with him. He was from the East Coast, as I was. He was nice. He was witty and sarcastic. He was educated and refined. He was an unbelievably talented musician. And he took an interest in me.
The pastor left the entire school in Ted’s hands, and only taught us chapel. Ted started to run the school with a tight grip. He was everywhere . . . classroom teacher, disciplinarian, soccer coach, Bible class instructor, yearbook director, choir director, piano and organ player at church, occasionally fill-in preacher, basketball coach, tutor. He was easily the most charismatic and popular figure in our little church and school.
But he was also described in our yearbook as “a strong disciplinarian.” Griping was not tolerated. At times he was bullying to other students. One of his favorite phrases was “get over it.”
Ted continued to mentor me, though, and I developed a schoolgirl crush. It was public knowledge, and a source of entertainment to the adults and kids, especially when two other girls also eventually developed schoolgirl crushes on him. We tried to emulate him in his likes and disdains. We vied for his attention, and even though the three of us were friends, we had a very competitive dynamic. I was always aware of what I or others wore, who had a piano lesson when, where everyone was, who was getting more personal attention from him, etc.
(It was only much later I found out that these other two were also victims of his, but at the time, none of us knew that the others had the same secret relationship with him.)
Description of molestation
I can’t remember the actual first time Ted molested me. I remember that it evolved slowly that first year. I remember it started innocently—at least it seemed innocent to me—with one arm over my shoulder. He spent more and more time with me. He said he would be the father I didn’t have.
Then he started hugging me closely face-to-face. He called me his baby. The hugs became longer. Eventually he started kissing me on the mouth.
Ted’s office was a very small inner room in the main office located in the church. A secretary sat in the front room, when she was there, and he had a separate doorway into his small space. He had two chairs in front of his desk that could easily be seen from the main office, through the doorway.
But when I was called in, I was required to sit on the floor against the wall behind his desk, next to him and out of sight line of the doorway, while he sat up in his chair. I had to sit with my feet on the floor, knees up. He would then take a ruler to lift up my skirt to look. He really seemed to enjoy doing this when he could almost get caught. There would often be an adult right behind the wall, in the front near the filing cabinet.
He seemed to derive pleasure from touching me when others were present. For example, one time there were three or four of us older students sitting at a folding table in the nursery, reviewing some material for a class with him. He would slip off his moccasins and rub his foot against my leg while we were supposed to be concentrating on the material. He would often mouth the words “I love you,” to me in his office, when there was someone right there in the front office. When I would go to his office for a question and just stand next to his desk (with an adult right outside the doorway), he would take the time to feel my buttocks under my skirt, the back of my legs, and my genitals.
I started spending an inordinate amount of time with Ted outside school hours, supposedly for extra help in different subjects. My grandparents bought me a piano, and I started taking private piano lessons with Ted.
The official school-sanctioned paddlings, throughout my junior high and high school career, which were supposed to be witnessed by another staff member, began to turn into private paddlings, whenever my attitude was not what he wanted it to be or because I wasn’t trying hard enough in my schoolwork. Or, once I remember he found out I had talked back to my grandmother. Whatever his reason, many paddlings were private (always in his office), with my skirt lifted up. He would then rub my buttocks, hug and kiss me, sit me on his lap and tell me he loved me and that I was his baby. It was all for my own good, as he was my father.
Meanwhile, I was living a double life of a young, innocent girl. The pastor’s daughter became my best friend and we were inseparable. We weren’t mixing with the rest of “the world,” so in a lot of ways we perhaps acted younger than kids from the public schools. We were still climbing trees and eating pies on the roof of the local grocery store. We rode our bikes. We weren’t allowed to wear makeup until we were 16. We weren’t allowed to go to movies or to the roller skating rink where they played worldly music. We were separatists.
We were not allowed to sit next to boys in the cars, because we had a “six-inch” rule, so Ted’s car (a white VW Rabbit with a stick shift) would typically have two or three female students or two students and another adult. Sometimes we would squeeze three people in front, with someone sitting on top of the gear shift. On many, many car trips to/from out-of-town soccer or basketball games, I would be the one squeezed in next to him, and he would put his hand up my skirt, even when another teacher was in the car. It was always dark when this happened, usually on the drive home from events.
Ted was known to drive fast and get speeding tickets. He liked to scare me in the car by driving recklessly. The drive to his house was along a long, winding, unlit country road. He would turn off the headlights on this road, speed very fast, and then “bank” the car up a hillside on the curve.
Ted taught me to drive in his car so I could get my license, so we had many driving lessons. We would end up on remote roads, and he would park the car and we would “make out.” He told me he loved me. I told him I loved him.
I babysat his kids, and he would drive me home. My senior year I was school/church janitor, which meant I had even more reason to be at school late at night, and he would drive me home. Sometimes that one-block drive lasted 45 minutes, depending on when he was expected at home.
I don’t know what Ted has said when confronted by others, and of course, one does not usually discuss “things done in secret.” So, I will state here that the physical and sexual abuse that occurred included such things as severe paddling under the dress with the pantyhose pulled down that caused bruising, touching under and without clothing, kissing on the mouth, him laying on top of me and simulating the sex act through underwear, ejaculations, and oral sex. So, it was everything but full-blown intercourse. And it was almost daily.
When I got older, it felt like an affair, so he started to include me in his “guilt” over us. He said he couldn’t divorce his wife even though he loved me. (His wife was nothing but kind to me.) A few times, Ted would appear remorseful. I remember specifically once after I gave him oral sex, he made us pray in the car. He included me in his “spiritual torment.” There was another time when our genitals touched, and we came very close to actual intercourse. But to him, penetration was the only thing that crossed the line into adultery.
Ted took me on trips to tour Bob Jones University with him for Get Acquainted Days and to “help him with his thesis.” While I was “helping him with his thesis” in the campus library, he lifted my skirt and rubbed me underneath. Then when we left campus to go back to Tennessee, pulling out on Wade Hampton Boulevard he immediately put his hand all the way up under my skirt to touch me.
On our senior trip to Charleston, he was the only chaperone with the three seniors, who were all girls. He also used this opportunity for more of the same.
I remember that at some point I supposedly had enough high school credits to graduate. So, my last days in school were spent primarily learning typing. I spent my days in a small room in the back of the church auditorium next to the baptismal pool for this class. Of course, Ted came back frequently to “check my progress.”
High school graduation
At Cookeville Christian School there was no emphasis on studying for pre-college testing, since our admittance to BJU was expected and considered a done deal.
So I “graduated” CCS. I was awarded an 18-inch “Pester the Principal” trophy at my graduation ceremony, a statue of a hound dog that had a raccoon “treed.” This again was a cute nod to the “schoolgirl crush” everyone knew I had on Ted.