Sunday, 10 February 2013

G.R.A.C.E. Dismissed from Abuse Investigation for Bias & Unprofessional Conduct

Update Feb 25, 2014:  Bob Jones U has once again reversed their decision, tossed by the wind it would seem.  They have now rehired G.R.A.C.E. to resume the non-due process pseudo investigation/kangaroo court. 

[ Update Feb 10, 2014:  Last week yet another G.R.A.C.E. pseudo-investigation was brought to a halt. A university in South Carolina named Bob Jones University which originally seemed to accept the flawed reasoning of G.R.A.C.E. has now decided to terminate that kangaroo court after all. Better late than never. The G.R.A.C.E. activists are predictably up in arms demanding that Boz and his crystal ball get reinstated rather than advocate for a proper due process investigation by the proper authorities. That is telling of course.

If there is sufficient evidence for a legitimate verdict then proper due process will follow it. If little to no evidence, well, that is where G.R.A.C.E. and their circular reasoning come in. Of course there is no actual legitimacy in that.    If Bob Jones University is interested in following the evidence wherever it leads then they must encourage the full strength of law enforcement to investigate and forget the kangaroo court offered by G.R.A.C.E. who at best collect accusations without the true power to investigate them and then offer a rubberstamp based on their self declared "expert opinion"
News flash:  Opinions are of little value compared to proper due process objectively examining the evidence.

History is littered with examples of due process being so lightly regarded, for instance the Salem witch trials, the Spanish Inquisition or even the "trial" of Jesus.

A proper civil investigation following due process can achieve any objective or avenue that G.R.A.C.E. can only better because the civil authorities can do much more since they have actual authority. For example;

They can compel testimony, They can issue warrants so they can seize records & evidence, They can subpena.

They can use forensic science to analyze evidence.

They can arrest.

They can hold a trial according to due process (for example the counsel for the accused gets to cross examine any accuser).

They can imprison and throw away the key.

Due Process offers a result FAR, FAR superior. A result far less likely to be contested.

G.R.A.C.E. offers none of that, thus a kangaroo court.

Of course due process requires EVIDENCE not just accusations & rhetoric.

I say convince the proper authorities to pursue the matter. I recommend that to everyone, the University, the accused & the accusers. At the end no one can gripe about a rigged process. If the evidence is there then the civil authorities will be happy to pursue it. If the evidence is not there to compel the civil authorities then that is not the problem of the University, they don't need to drastically lower the evidence bar for a pseudo-investigation which will only end up highly contested because proper due process was not followed.

As an abuse advocacy group G.R.A.C.E. may have some valuable tips regarding policy to consider but leave any investigation to those with the POWER & AUTHORITY to properly carry it out.

I strongly encourage that.

What exactly is G.R.A.C.E.'s intent?  If it is to investigate criminal or potentially criminal behavior they have no authority to do that. Any of the accusations mentioned which contain that element are best handled by the civil authorities as a truly independent third party, for the reasons I mentioned above.

Even if GRACE were held in high esteem by all (which obviously is not the case) they would at best be a needless & toothless redundancy or worse, their meddling could botch a police investigation.

If their intent is to only deal with non-criminal elements they have a different problem namely that those issues would therefore be legal and entirely within the liberty of the University to decide how to proceed. G.R.A.C.E. would have no more right to impose their standards of behavior on BJU than would BJU have the right to impose theirs on anyone else.

If their intent is to act only as a mediator or ombudsmen (as BJU seems to understand it) then they should not cross out of those bounds. Meaning they hear complaints and try to help resolve them but have no formal ability to determine what criminal accusations are TRUE. That is a police & courts matter. GRACE could only offer a subjective opinion based on their experience, credible or not. Thus highly contestable and unlikely to be of much use. Let the police & courts deal with anything illegal. Anything that's legal, well that is BJU's right to decide like it or not, we all get that right.

As the commissioning authority it is for BJU to decide what they want the role & scope of the ombudsman to be. Anything beyond that can only be mandated by the civil authorities.

Over 7000 views on this post in the past 3 days.  Perhaps the G.R.A.C.E. bubble has burst. ]

 [Original post]
The prior decision by PBI to not hire G.R.A.C.E. due to concern regarding the poor reputation and conflicting behavior of G.R.A.C.E. has now been vindicated.  The advocacy group Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment or  G.R.A.C.E. has just been dismissed from another investigation as a result of their
unprofessional conduct.  It seems they can't make up their mind whether they are going to be activists or continue to pose as investigators.  Their obvious bias completely undermines any self professed credibility, leading most to see them as only providing a kangaroo court.  Missionary organization Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) was recently compelled to remove G.R.A.C.E. from it's position of investigator after multiple complaints by victims.  Here is the relevant statement from ABWE:

"In the past few months, several individuals who were interviewed by G.R.A.C.E. during the investigative process voluntarily contacted ABWE, unsolicited, to share their concerns. These individuals reported that the interviews by G.R.A.C.E. were not conducted in a professional way or in complete independence and autonomy, as stipulated by ABWE’s contract with G.R.A.C.E.
 As a result of these conversations, ABWE believes that G.R.A.C.E.:
  1. Has not utilized acceptable practice and professional techniques in interviews to obtain truthful statements. For example, in its Philadelphia interviews of more than 20 witnesses, many of them alleged victims, it was reported that G.R.A.C.E. housed them in the same hotel and allowed the witnesses to compare stories BEFORE the interviews, thereby tainting the testimony so much that it would not have been admissible in a court of law according to former VA Attorney General Mark Earley. 
  2. Has not recorded many of their interviews to ensure accuracy and context of the interviewees’ testimony, which is standard operating procedure for any independent investigation, especially as to alleged victims and key witnesses. 
  3. Has provided to interviewees incomplete and inaccurate transcriptions of their interviews.
  4. Has asked clearly leading questions to interviewees, demonstrating what appears to be a strong bias in one direction
  5. Has added and/or cut out important information, including any favorable information about ABWE, letting the transcript misrepresent facts and not reflecting appropriately what the interviewee stated.
  6. Has confronted some interviewees with blatant and intimidating statements and suggestions, rather than questions, during the interviews. 
  7. Has refused to use any standard of evidence (such as preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing as adopted by ABWE) in which to apply the facts to reach its conclusions.
  8. Finally, these wrong investigative tactics and flaws have led victims to withdraw from the investigation with a number of other victims and witnesses expressing similar concerns about the perceived lack of truthfulness of any report due to the fatal investigative flaws. In fact, one of the victims who was allegedly abused by Donn Ketcham has recently withdrawn from G.R.A.C.E. investigation and stated to G.R.A.C.E., “We continue to be very uncomfortable about the incomplete nature of the notes.  We were very surprised that G.R.A.C.E. did not record our session in order to get a complete record of the interview  . . . Therefore [we] withdraw our consent for G.R.A.C.E. to use any part of our interview both verbal and written in its investigation process.”  One of the victims stated to ABWE that she felt that she was “re-victimized by G.R.A.C.E.”.
In an effort to address these issues directly with G.R.A.C.E., ABWE shared its concerns in correspondence in November and December 2012, with additional follow up in recent weeks, but to no avail.
ABWE specifically requested G.R.A.C.E. demonstrate its commitment to complete independence and autonomy in an investigation by basing all conclusions on a commonly accepted legal standard of proof."  ABWE’s Board of Directors considered this issue for investigations into other cases of child abuse in its 85-year history, and chose to adopt two common civil standards: clear and convincing evidence and preponderance of the evidence. G.R.A.C.E. has refused to do that, despite ABWE’s urging.

Regarding the G.R.A.C.E. conflict of interest in the PBI case
Unfortunately the activists never really went beyond rhetoric and accusations, all while attempting to dictate a process of how PBI could be found guilty.  Which was curious since they had already declared it guilty at every opportunity.  Prairie preferred for the RCMP to investigate as they had the legal authority and power to do so while leaving no rocks unturned.  The problem was the RCMP also have investigative standards and will not just willy nilly start proclaiming people guilty till proven innocent.  The activists in turn wanted an obscure christian abuse ministry from another country named G.R.A.C.E. to investigate even though they would have no legal authority or power to do much of anything.  It then became known that some of the activists had direct ties to G.R.A.C.E.  Fears of that process resulting in a kangaroo court were furthered when it was discovered that the founder of that organization, Boz Tchividjian, was also an administrator on the very Facebook page which was making all the accusations and leading the cry for G.R.A.C.E to be hired.  Many considered this to be a disturbing conflict of interest.  When brought to light this fact was at first denied by his co-administrator (Fossen) and he quickly vanished from the admin team of the FB page.  The information had been recorded by multiple sources prior to his removal however and he later  acknowledged he had in fact been one of the administrators. (Update Feb 2012: Additional concerns with G.R.A.C.E. continue to mount.  see here:
and here 
Curiously for a christian "ministry" organization, G.R.A.C.E. charges a large (6 figure) fee for it's participation rather than helping the activists for free.   Of course nothing prevents G.R.A.C.E.  from offering their services for free, they just don't.  The activists/G.R.A.C.E. expect & demand PBI to cover this cost.  An interesting business model, help generate public pressure on an organization in league with a bunch of activists while those very activists demand that paying you a boatload of money to "investigate" is the only option they are prepared to accept.  Perhaps the authorities should be investigating that.

The root of the G.R.A.C.E. methodological problem
You may have noticed that the activists are reluctant of using words like "alleged" when discussing the accusations of abuse at PBI.  Instead they repeatedly refer to the various people involved as "victims" or "abusers" without regard to the fact that an investigation has taken place through the RCMP and established that there is no evidence to support the accusations.  When questioned about this the activists will speak of the importance of
believing the "victim" and that the failure to immediately embrace the accusation with full belief causes secondary abuse against the "victim".  Thus the person who requests further evidence is only making the problem worse.  After-all, they reason, the "victim" has told their story, we now know the "abuser" is an abuser let's move on with the next steps of holding them accountable, seeking punishment and restitution/compensation.

Accusation, "We know that (A) abused (B)" or "We know that the event of abuse occurred"

How do you know this?

"Because we have the account of the victim."

You may ask "how do we know that account is reliable or accurate?" Or "how do you know they are a victim?"

To which they reply "It is abusive to not believe the victim, stop re-victimizing them."
Therefore,  "We know that the event of abuse occurred because we have the account of the victim."

This reasoning commits the obvious  fallacy of "begging the question" which is also sometimes referred to as circular reasoning, where your assuming your conclusion into the argument for the conclusion.  Remember:

When you assume that which needs to be proven you will guarantee your conclusion. 

Some have used this error in reasoning to convince their kids that the Bible is the word of God.

"How do you know the bible is the word of God?" the child may ask?

"Because the Bible says so, and it's the word of God".  comes the circular reply.

Those who have done their research however know that there is an enormous amount of evidence  which properly confirms the conclusion that the Bible is indeed the word of God.  This would be an evidential approach to the issue.  

The activists associated with organizations like a Godly  Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment or G.R.A.C.E. repeatedly choose the circular method described above for reaching their conclusions in their "investigations"  rather than a strictly evidential one.  They buy into the circular reasoning hook, line and sinker.   This is common practice for those from a therapy background.  Automatic (rather than evidence based) belief may have benefits in developing trust and communication between a therapist and their client but shows why they make poor investigators.  This also explains why the activists continue to insist on a pseudo-investigation by G.R.A.C.E. rather than accept the results of an evidential investigation by the RCMP.  The activists can have confidence in what conclusion G.R.A.C.E. will come to because their circular method guarantees it.   In the case of  the abuse accusations against people associated with Prairie the RCMP took an evidential approach, fully looking into the matter and found there was no credible evidence to pursue.  Of course as I have pointed out before a lack of evidence does not by necessity mean that an accusation is untrue rather only that the accusation is unfounded.
  un·found·ed  (n-foundd)
1. Not based on fact or sound evidence; groundless. 
2. Not yet established.

What about objections that "victims" will not lie or that an evidential method is unfair to the "victim"?  Those objections themselves assume the status of the "victim" which again is what needs to be proven, or at least evidenced.  Those used to thinking in a circle have a hard time to break out of the cycle.

If in the future someone were to make an accusation against yourself or your child would you prefer Investigators use the circular method or the evidential method?  Are you consistent when dealing with accusations against others?  

We live in a sinful world where people do abuse others and also people lie about being abused.  The evidential method will not guarantee the conclusion favored by the activists & G.R.A.C.E.  but it is more honest and reliable if the goal is a search for truth.   

Should Christians accept any less?

Proper due process anyone?  Use the proper legal authorities not a biased pseudo-invetigation.

The troubling way that G.R.A.C.E. has conducted itself in the ABWE case is consistent with the behavior witnessed of them in the winter of 2011 when they were called out for a conflict of interest in the PBI situation.  see here:

This blog strongly cautions any organization from tainting a future investigation by including the use of G.R.A.C.E.

For more on the circular reasoning of  the G.R.A.C.E kangaroo court read this
Bob Jones University has hired GRACE which they will sorely regret.


  1. A real shame. Meanwhile hurting people are left in pain waiting for a legitimate investigation. The few activists bent on bullying seem to only make things worse.

  2. Very true, ABWE has now hired a different firm led by a former FBI agent, so hopefully that is more legit. PBI had the good sense to go through the proper authorities (RCMP) who have the the real power to do a full investigation and lay actual charges. ABWE is dealing with laws/cases in other countries though and that understandably makes things more complicated.

  3. Your concerns regarding G.R.A.C.E. are something I too have wondered about. Do you know why they don't offer their services to possible victims and organizations for free? Seems pretty odd for a "ministry" to charge so much money. Something smells. Also your post summary of "Prairie Bible Institute Abuse Scandal" was excellent. My sister went there and I will next year. I really find the blog helpful, Why do you not post more often?

  4. MC, I doubt they ever charge alleged victims a fee, that would be heartless and I do think their heart is in the right place, they just don't have well thought through investigative standards. I suspect they might get more use if they also offered their services to organizations for free but considering their deeply flawed approach it is likely best they charge and thus reduce their usage. Enjoy your time at Bible College but remember that sin and crime exist everywhere in our fallen world so stay alert and stay safe. PBI follows a good protection plan but like all other schools they can't control all actions of all people associated with their campus.

    The past discussion on these topics was left unevidenced and was most often highly emotional (understandable considering the nature of the topic)rather than carefully thought through so there was little of substance for me to post about. I am considering a FAQ post but my time is currently quite limited and I am not aware of any new developments since the RCMP concluded their investigation. Take care.

  5. Glad to see I'm not the only one concerned about GRACE! Now that Geronimo Aguilar, and others from the Richmond Outreach Center, have resigned due to abuse investigations, I'm surprised neither Boz from GRACE nor his friend, Jonathan Falwell have commented. Especially since Falwell paid a special visit to the ROC not long ago to throw his support behind that ministry.

    Considering that Boz is a law professor at Liberty and recently lashed out at SBC preachers for rallying to the defense of another preacher accused of covering up abuse, you'd think they might want to keep things clean on the homefront?

  6. Well, it appears BJU is going to regret it.


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