October 17, 2012 ABWE Administrative Changes
Nearly 2 years ago, ABWE committed to address allegations of sexual abuse by Donn Ketcham in Bangladesh. During this time the administration and board have confronted many past mistakes, as well as made the necessary changes to ensure nothing like it ever happens again.
One of the most fundamental changes has been to ensure that in cases of sexual abuse the interests of the victim would always be of paramount importance — with an even higher priority than the redemption of the perpetrator or what may seem to be the overall interests of the mission.
The late Dr. Wendell Kempton was the president of ABWE in 1989, when allegations of Ketcham’s sexual abuse of a minor first surfaced. While it is true that Ketcham was immediately dismissed from the mission upon discovery of his abuse of an MK, Dr. Kempton’s and the 1989 board’s failure to look more deeply into Ketcham’s sexual abuse delayed the discovery of other MK victims.
In response, the current ABWE Board has taken the following actions:
- Terminated President Michael Loftis for a leadership failure, displayed in a loss of confidence on the part of the board and administration. The allegations of Ketcham’s abuse surfaced for the second time in 2002. Dr. Loftis stated that he is solely responsible for his actions in failing to officially inform the board of the situation until March 2011, and not following through to insist that the promised investigation was completed. The blog detailing the sexual abuse by Ketcham and the failed response of ABWE in regards to other victims were not the sole issues that resulted in the board’s unanimous decision to release him, but rather the situation provided a window for the board to look more deeply into Dr. Loftis’ overall leadership.
- Asked and received the resignation of Russ Ebersole from his position of Vice President of Missionary Ministries.
- Asked and received the resignation of Don Davis as Corporate Counsel.
- Asked for the resignations of members of the 1989 board who continued to serve as Emeriti board members. Presently none of the 1989 board members continue to serve as Executive or Emeriti board members.
Though the present membership of the board was not initially aware of the sexual abuse of several MKs in Bangladesh that took place in the late 1980s, the board has recognized its role, along with the present administration, to do everything possible to respond appropriately to the victims of this abuse.
ABWE also has established child-safety procedures so sexual misconduct can quickly be dealt with, especially when it involves the sexual abuse of children. No one can guarantee that sexual abuse will never take place again, but we are doing everything we can to eliminate it with enhanced vigilance, implementing clear reporting procedures and utilizing experienced investigators to conduct objective investigations.
Our prayer is that the steps we take as a board will demonstrate godly grace. As a ministry, we have asked God for His guidance in how we can acknowledge and address our failures and sins of the past.
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