In 2011, ABWE hired Simms Showers LLP, who brought a highly experienced team, led by Rob Showers, to search for and investigate all historical cases of child abuse (except the case currently being handled by Professional Investigators International) in ABWE’s 85-year history. Simms Showers immediately began looking at old reports, reviewing field notes and corporate records, and compiling historical cases.
Before going into private practice, Mr. Showers acted as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Executive Director of the National Obscenity Enforcement Unit, later called the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, in the U.S. Department of Justice. He has started and run several nonprofit organizations, including the National Law Center for Children and Families, and has lectured and written articles about church and nonprofit law, sexual misconduct and the sexual exploitation of children.
The independent investigators from Simms Showers conducted an extensive review of ABWE records and found incidents of potential child abuse involving ABWE missionaries or MKs dating back to 1956. From that point, the independent investigators conducted numerous investigations on those historical cases. All of these thorough investigations have now been concluded, resolved, and closed.
On July 11, 2012, the investigators submitted their final reports to the Board of ABWE International, summarizing their findings and recommendations.
In four of the cases, Simms Showers conducted their own full investigation, interviewing witnesses, victims, and perpetrators, and presented their factual findings to the ABWE Board. All four of these cases found child abuse occurred and resulted in the Board taking appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrators, some of whom were former ABWE personnel.
In four other cases, partial investigations were conducted since previous reports had been made. In these cases, the Board concluded that child abuse had occurred; disciplinary action was taken and the files were closed.
In the remaining cases, the victim(s) and/or perpetrators were not available because they were either deceased, not identified, or the victims did not consent to pursuing an investigation.
When the firm began its investigations, none of the ABWE personnel involved in any of the cases remained in the mission field — they were either retired, or had previously resigned or been terminated.
In all of these historic cases the necessary authorities have been notified and in cases where supporting and/or sending churches were told only of the missionary’s “moral failure,” —per an outdated policy, they have now been told that the missionary was specifically involved in child abuse.
When warranted, ABWE administered discipline to the perpetrator. In situations where ABWE policy and Scripture dictated, we informed the missionaries’ churches so they could take appropriate action. The Board has now concluded all investigations and cases involving historical child abuse allegations, except for the investigation being conducted by Professional Investigators International into the abuse of Donn Ketchum.
Moreover, ABWE has drafted and implemented a comprehensive interim child-protection policy that will improve education about the seriousness of the issue, reporting an incident, and timely investigation and counseling for the victims.
Perhaps no other sin scars its victims so deeply as child abuse. Although God, by His grace, does have the capacity to fully forgive this grievous sin, we also recognize a biblical principle that forgiveness does not remove all its consequences.
The Board of ABWE International is truly sorry for both the sins and the failures that have so tragically impacted the lives of our MKs. Over the past 2 years, we have taken a series of steps aimed at rectifying any mistakes in handling previous cases, as well as strengthening our child safety and protection policies. Learn more about those actions at www.abwe.org/protecting-our-children.
Although we will never be able to change what has happened, we are committed to redressing the wrongs and making right what we can.
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