Cookeville timeline and why we’re posting
A Timeline of the Cookeville Christian School cases as related to Bob Jones University
fall 1979 Ted Anderson, soon to be a graduate student at BJU, became the principal at Cookeville Christian School in Tennessee. According to allegations made in three affidavits, he began grooming, molesting, and abusing shortly after arriving at the school.May 1983 Barbra, the first Cookville victim, graduated from CCS and went on to BJU in the fall.Aug 1983 Ted Anderson’s master’s thesis for his graduate degree at BJU was published.May 1985 Barbra left BJU after 2 years; did not return to Cookeville.May 1985 Karen, the second Cookeville victim, graduated from CCS and went on to BJU in the fall.March 1986 Amie, the third Cookeville victim, told her parents about Ted Anderson.The pastor of the BJU-planted church called someone from BJU for advice; was allegedly advised to ask for Ted Anderson’s resignation and not talk about what he had done. According to statements from those involved, the police were not called, even though because of Amie’s age this was a mandated reporting situation.The dean of students at BJU was informed that Ted Anderson had taken advantage of three girls in the Christian school and that Karen, a student at the time, had been one of his victims. Karen was seen twice by a dorm counselor who did not talk with her about her abuse.May 1986 Karen left BJU after just one year and returned to Tennessee.fall 1986 Amie began her senior year at CCS; struggled and failed; took the GED.Jan 1987 Amie was sent to BJU at the age of 17 (she had turned 17 the previous November).The dean of students was aware that Amie was one of the victims from Cookeville.No one at BJU notified law enforcement, even though, according to Amie’s affidavit, she was only 17, which made this a mandated reporting situation.Amie was counseled three times about the abuse she experienced, once by the dean of students and twice by the dorm counselor. She remembers being counseled to repent of her own sin in the abuse (even though she was eleven years old when the abuse started) and to forgive and forget. After receiving this counseling, Amie struggled even more deeply with shame and guilt.May 1988 Amie left BJU after just one and a half years and did not return.Dec 10, 2014 The GRACE report revealed that the dean of students confessed to having been ignorant of mandated reporting laws.Dec 11, 2014 President Steve Pettit said, “I would like to sincerely and humbly apologize to those who felt they did not receive from us genuine love, compassion, understanding and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault …To them I would say—we have carefully listened to your voice. We take your testimony in this report to our hearts. We intend to thoroughly review every aspect and concern outlined in the investigation and respond appropriately.”Dec 15, 2014 President Steve Pettit said of the counseling program, the content of which had not substantially changed since the 1980s, “We have a solid approach toward counseling people where we are helping those who have experienced sexual abuse or assault. We actually have it in place.”March, 2015 President Steve Pettit announced that a highly credentialed but anonymous attorney “conducted a review of our files that we are aware reference sexual abuse/assault. The review did not uncover any instances where the University failed to comply with its reporting obligations.”March and April, 2015 President Steve Pettit made it very clear that the content of the trauma counseling at BJU would remain unchanged.Aug 2015 Bob Jones Third wrongly declared that the Greenville police had said, “We found not one instance of Bob Jones University hiding from the police any criminal action whatsoever.”
Some people have wondered why BJUGrace is providing a platform for those who had been victimized and participated in the G.R.A.C.E. investigation to tell their stories, naming themselves and their perpetrators. Dan Allender, author of The Wounded Heart, as well as other credentialed trauma counselors, have said that telling your story can be an important step in the road to healing from trauma. However, if after telling your story (or a tiny part of it), you’re shamed, blamed, and silenced, you’ll find that rather than healing taking place, the trauma is exacerbated.
The G.R.A.C.E. report indicated that about about 60% of those who had been victimized who took their survey believed that when they tried to get help at BJU, their trauma was increased. For many, instead of being offered love and protection while being assured “it was not your fault,” their shame only intensified.
Here, though, is a new opportunity for those who were victimized to tell their stories. It is a new opportunity for the Christian community to say, “It was not your fault.” It is a new opportunity for us to offer love and support and to determine to the best of our ability to be aware of the reality of wolves in sheep’s clothing and to protect the vulnerable who are under our care. It is a new opportunity for abusers to truly repent, and for those who covered for abusers while shaming and blaming the victims to repent as well. We understand that forgiveness (release) needs to happen, and in many cases in which former victims have spoken, it has already occurred. Forgiving does not preclude speaking.
The posts so far have received encouraging, supportive responses. Behind the scenes, God is doing great things. The Lord Jesus is healing the shattered in heart as He promised He would. He is even restoring long-damaged relationships. His work in this particular situation is ongoing.
We don’t hate BJU as an institution, or any individuals at BJU, and don’t want to destroy them. We simply want to see truth and love prevail. We believe this is what our Savior wants as well.