G.R.A.C.E. Dismissed

[ 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 it that.

Over 7000 views on this post in the past few days. Me thinks the G.R.A.C.E. bubble has burst.

 [Following is the original post]

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

The prior decision by PBI to show 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."

Update Feb 22.  Grace refuses to help protect alleged victims!!  Further details have been released regarding the behavior by GRACE which lead to their dismissal.  As many are aware there are some sick people out there who will cyber-stalk and character assassinate anyone who dares express concern over the apparently unethical activists like those at GRACE.  It now appears that GRACE uses these cyber-stalkers to their advantage and has REFUSED to protect the identity of victims who simply wanted to tell the truth about GRACE.  A troubling bulling tactic by GRACE.  How much does GRACE charge for this kind of kangaroo court pseudo-investigation?  Sounds like it borders on extortion.  Here is the quote from ABWE.

"As members of the body of Christ, we know the value of truth, honesty and transparency — and we are continually learning how to exemplify those characteristics in our actions and words. The heart of the matter is that ABWE desired to work with G.R.A.C.E. to seek a resolution.
In the fall and winter of 2012, at least eight victims and witnesses voluntarily contacted us to express their concerns relating to the G.R.A.C.E. investigation. They felt G.R.A.C.E had left out information, did not record their testimonies, changed their statements, provided inaccurate summaries and asked leading questions. Some of these individuals shared that they had been in touch with G.R.A.C.E. directly regarding their concerns, but they were dissatisfied with the organization’s response to them. As a result, we know that some of the interviewees requested that G.R.A.C.E. not use their testimonies at all.
Starting in November 2012, ABWE wrote Mr. Basyle Tchividjian, director of G.R.A.C.E. to request a meeting to address the victims’ and interviewees’ concerns, as well as potential problems we saw in the investigation. ABWE offered to meet with Mr. Tchividjian in person, or even fly in members of the G.R.A.C.E. team. G.R.A.C.E. agreed to meet, however, they told us that they could not address specific areas of concerns without knowing the identities of the victims and witnesses who had contacted us. We believed that this was a fair request, so we asked those who contacted us for their permission to share their names along with their complaints with G.R.A.C.E. These MKs and victims agreed with one stipulation. They asked that G.R.A.C.E. promise to protect their identities to prevent reprisals or retaliation.
G.R.A.C.E. refused to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect the identities of these witnesses. While we do not understand this decision and were offered no clear explanation, the ABWE Board of Directors believed it was important to respect the MKs' and interviewees' request for confidentiality — especially as some expressed a fear of retaliation in this process. Since G.R.A.C.E. would not sign the confidentiality agreement, we were unable to meet to bring clarity to the body of concerns and questions.
We felt that this response by G.R.A.C.E did not seem to reflect an interest in protecting all the victims, including those who had questions about the investigative practices.
Without being able to address the questions and concerns about the legitimacy of the summaries and testimonies used to produce a report by G.R.A.C.E., we were left questioning the validity of the report itself. If G.R.A.C.E.’s report was based on paraphrased testimonies or incomplete statements from witnesses and victims rather than their exact words, there may be information missing from the analysis that could greatly alter the tone or accuracy of the report. We felt this also made G.R.A.C.E.’s agreement for us to “fact check” the report meaningless. How could we fact check a document for complete truth (which G.R.A.C.E. required we do within 5 days) when we wouldn’t know what information was omitted which might have an impact on its accuracy?
We believe there may have been a way to work through these issues with G.R.A.C.E., had the organization been willing to sign the confidentiality agreement and agree to correct these investigative flaws where they could. We were incredibly disappointed when we learned that G.R.A.C.E would not, but needed to remain true to our commitment to protect the confidentiality of the victims and witnesses.
We firmly believe that a truly independent investigation should be conducted in a way that is consistent with the highest standards of the industry. The process of collecting evidence should be objective, and key interviews should be recorded and based on unbiased and open-ended questions that seek facts. For this reason, we have begun working with Pii, an investigative firm with a track record of high standards in objective reporting."

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:  http://pbiscandal.blogspot.ca/2013/02/grace-dismissed-from-abuse.html
and here http://pbiscandal.blogspot.ca/2013/04/ephesians-429-esv-105-helpful-votes-let.html 
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?

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:  http://pbiscandal.blogspot.ca/2013/05/pairie-bible-institute-abuse-scandal.html

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   http://pbiscandal.blogspot.ca/2013/04/ephesians-429-esv-105-helpful-votes-let.html
Bob Jones University has hired GRACE which they will sorely regret.






Anonymous said...
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.
Let the evidence speak said...
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.
MC said...
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?
Let the evidence speak said...
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.
Let the evidence speak said...
The Christianity Today article that Boz is afraid of did an excellent job of pointing out the flaws in his approach. Seems many are catching on to this nonsense.

The denials & rhetoric of Boz are not too compelling. Looks like there needs to be an independent investigation of G.R.A.C.E. and their biased kangaroo court "investigations". The ABWE clearly made a big mistake in hiring them in the first place. Now that Boz is facing serious questions he reverts to claiming that surely no one else can replace him, he then appeals to motive, a common fallacy for him it seems.

Investigations should be in the hands of truly independent bodies like proper law enforcement authorities. Activists like Boz who approach the situation with a strong bias are too subject to "confirmation bias". Boz & his cohorts at G.R.A.C.E. need to admit and/or pursue their activism and quit pretending they can provide any type of unbiased investigation.

It is important for christian organizations to seek out the toughest most authoritative avenue when dealing with these issues. Go to the actual law enforcement agencies. That can have scary consequences but the integrity of the investigation is only as good as the authority and independence of those who are conducting it. Boz & the other activists have neither the authority to thoroughly investigate nor the unbiased independence to provide any confidence in their conclusions. At best they create a sideshow which is no help in a pursuit of truth.

From Wikipedia regarding confirmation bias

"Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.[Note 1][1] People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. For example, in reading about current political issues, people usually prefer sources that affirm their existing attitudes. They also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Biased search, interpretation and memory have been invoked to explain attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations).

A series of experiments in the 1960s suggested that people are biased toward confirming their existing beliefs. Later work re-interpreted these results as a tendency to test ideas in a one-sided way, focusing on one possibility and ignoring alternatives. In certain situations, this tendency can bias people's conclusions. Explanations for the observed biases include wishful thinking and the limited human capacity to process information. Another explanation is that people show confirmation bias because they are weighing up the costs of being wrong, rather than investigating in a neutral, scientific way."

This is the problem with G.R.A.C.E.

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