Statement from Stephen Jones upon hiring GRACE
The following statement was sent to some BJU alumni in January of 2013.
Given the current climate in our world and the steady stream of heart-breaking revelations of sexual abuse that have taken place in secular and Christian spheres, the Board of Trustees and administration of Bob Jones University have reviewed the University’s counseling practices and current policies that govern our responses to sexual abuse as we learn of it from the students and the constituency we serve.
In addition, we sought out a third-party Christian organization with which we could partner in an effort to identify any past instances in which former students or others felt under-served by the University’s response. We are grateful to have found GRACE, a credible, compassionate, and experienced Christian organization which conducts independent investigations and solicits unfiltered input from those who have experienced sexual abuse within Christian organizations or who have otherwise felt underserved by the Christian organizations they trusted to help them deal with the wrongs they suffered previously.
It is our prayer that this partnership with GRACE—operated with complete autonomy from Bob Jones University—will create an atmosphere of trust and complete honesty, allowing Bob Jones University to identify any cases in which we need to exercise authentic repentance and demonstrate biblical love to those we have always desired to serve to the best of our ability for the Lord’s sake.
The below summary from GRACE, supplemented by a more complete statement on their website, explains their approach as we turn over this important role to them. We pray it also demonstrates the heart of Christ on the part of the University’s administration—past and present.
Complete statement from GRACE:
GRACE Independent Investigation Announcement Summary
On January 10th, 2013, GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) begins a comprehensive, independent investigation of any complaints concerning the response of Bob Jones University and Bob Jones Academy to victims of adult and child sexual abuse. The purpose of this investigation is to identify areas in which authentic repentance may be required to redress past harm and to provide recommendations for possible institutional change. This investigation seeks to document any and all cases in which Bob Jones University/Academy representatives may have failed to respond appropriately to known reports, disclosures, or allegations of sexual abuse or assault that involved members of the Bob Jones University/Academy community. The scope of this investigation also includes any disparaging statements relating to sexual abuse victims that may have been communicated by Bob Jones University/Academy representatives, as well as the occurrence of physical, psychological, or spiritual abuse associated with the disclosed sexual abuse.
In retaining GRACE to conduct this third party investigation, the leadership of Bob Jones University/Academy has pledged to honor the integrity and independence of the investigative process and to cooperate fully with the GRACE Investigative Team. Bob Jones University/Academy has also agreed that GRACE will publish its Final Report to the public on the GRACE website and the Bob Jones University website.
The GRACE Investigative Team, led by former prosecutor Charissa Sloan Dvorak, is seeking input from any individual with knowledge relevant to this investigation. A brief, confidential online survey is available as an easy method of initial contact with the Team. The survey will remain posted until April 30, 2013. Survey responses will be used to identify individuals for more in-depth, in-person interviews with the GRACE Investigative Team. These interviews will be scheduled in Greenville, South Carolina as well as other US cities, as needed.
Please share this announcement with others who have information relevant to the investigation. We look forward to hearing from you.
The confidential online survey and the full GRACE Independent Investigation Announcement are both available on the GRACE website at Bob Jones University Investigation.
Boz Tchividjian, J.D.
Executive Director, GRACE
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