Is GRACE untrustworthy/unreliable/unethical?
After all, this Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment organization that’s investigating BJU for alleged mishandling of sexual abuse issues—didn’t a mission organization (ABWE) fire them? Didn’t another organization fire them too? Doesn’t this mean that their findings about BJU could be suspect?
If you go to the GRACE website and see the Board of Directors here you can see the stellar qualifications of the team. This is no fly-by-night organization. These people truly understand sexual abuse, from both the legal and the counseling standpoints. Sexual abuse survivors who have spoken with them have universally found them to be compassionate and professional.
The mission organization Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) did terminate their contract with GRACE in February 2013 and cited their reasons in this statement But we’ve been unable to find any survivor of ABWE-related abuse who reported that GRACE acted unethically or unprofessionally. On the contrary, survivors were devastated that GRACE was fired. After ABWE’s report, GRACE issued an explanatory open letter, which you can read here That’s the most crucial document to read. It is thoroughly referenced and offers a very detailed look into how GRACE operates as an investigative organization.
Some have mistakenly thought that Prairie Bible Institute (PBI) also fired GRACE, but in actuality they never did hire GRACE to investigate their own sexual abuse allegations, citing the termination of GRACE by ABWE as evidence that they shouldn’t do so.
New Tribes Mission (NTM) is one organization that did hire GRACE to investigate their sexual abuse allegations in one of their mission areas, and followed through with that particular investigation to the end, in 2010. To get an idea of the thorough investigative work that GRACE does and the sensible and compassionate recommendations they make, you can read the full report of the NTM investigation here. (*Trigger warning*: the information give in this document is explicit.) After the NTM GRACE report was published, New Tribes Mission posted a statement on their website of repentance and contrition. (Though I’d like to link to it now, it appears to have been taken down.) NTM posted a summary response on their website here.
By the time BJU administrators hired GRACE in November of 2012, the NTM report had been out for two years. BJU could see from the handling of the investigation in that situation that this organization was thorough and professional. The NTM report also gave them—and gives us—a good idea of what to expect in the BJU report.
When BJU first announced that they were hiring GRACE, they said that GRACE works “in a manner that demonstrates both knowledge of the issues and compassion to those involved,” and “As an independent third-party investigator, [the GRACE team] are able to provide an open and objective analysis of the facts which typically engenders trust of the complainants and leads to an appropriate, compassionate response.” You can read that full article here.
Another FAQ that came up during the Termination period in February of 2014 regarding GRACE’s integrity was this: BJU had marked their Notice of Termination “Confidential,” but GRACE had made it public. Didn’t this show that they were untrustworthy to handle highly sensitive information?
GRACE did actually keep that Notice of Termination confidential for ten days while seeking to find a reason for the Termination, and perhaps waiting for BJU to issue the news of the termination themselves. Eventually the news had to come out, though, because it was imperative that abuse survivors be informed that the program that was seeking to shine light into their allegations was being aborted. As soon as the alleged victims of abuse were informed, the public at large would know within minutes. The best way to minimize misinformation would be for all documents to be public. There was no legal or contractual obligation to keep the letter confidential, so after ten days of waiting, they wrote on their website, “With a very heavy heart, GRACE announces that on January 27th, 2014, we received a ‘Notice of Termination’ from Bob Jones University.” More information on the termination can be found here.