It sounds straightforward enough: A missions agency faced with decades-old allegations of sexual abuse within its ranks hires an outside organization to investigate.
But add to that mix physically and emotionally scarred victims and dueling standards of proof, and the scenario becomes much more complex.
Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) gained prominence in 2009 when New Tribes Mission (NTM) hired it to review sexual abuse claims. In November, it launched a similar third-party investigation for Bob Jones University. Now a Baptist missions agency has challenged the group's methods and terminated their relationship.
Nearly two years ago, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) hired GRACE to investigate allegations that Donn Ketcham, a former missionary in Bangladesh, sexually abused missionary kids in the 1980s and that the agency had botched its handling of the claims.
But just weeks before the planned release of a final report, ABWE—whose board in 2011 fired its former president, Michael Loftis, and demanded the resignations of other top officials as the agency confronted "past mistakes"—announced it would work instead with a new firm.
ABWE raised concerns about GRACE's professionalism and investigative tactics and suggested that the investigators seemed intent on portraying the missions agency in a negative light.
"We began to realize that as trained prosecutors involved in doing investigations for a child advocacy ministry, their focus appeared to be on building a case rather than finding facts," Tony Beckett, ABWE's vice president of church relations, told CT.
Boz Tchividjian, GRACE's founder and executive director, ...