Introduction: Why ABWE of Pennsylvania? Why a Blog?

THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG

The purpose of this blog is to bring into the light what has previously been kept in the dark, that is, to publicly identify former ABWE missionary Dr. Donn Ketcham of Allendale, Michigan, as a pedophile and to document ABWE’s coverup of his crimes. It is also to hold ABWE accountable to demonstrate in word and in deed that they have become transparent, trustworthy and have transformed their hearts in regard to abuse victims. 

ABOUT ABWE

In addition to revealing that Dr. Ketcham is a pedophile, this blog documents how the American mission agency he served under, Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (hereby referred to as ABWE and located in Pennsylvania), protected both his private and public reputation for over 20 years, by stating in writing and in private communication with inquiring parties that he was dismissed from the mission as a result of “moral failure” or adultery.

DOCUMENTATION

July 1989: A young MK visiting the States without her parents tells her sending church pastor that missionary Dr. Donn Ketcham has been sexually molesting her on the field since she was 12 years old. This pastor contacts ABWE, and ABWE immediately hands the girl over to counselor Russ Lloyd and Ketcham’s boss Russ Ebersole to journey alone with the two men back to Bangladesh and the parents–who had no idea why their child was coming back. Lloyd’s diary chronicles what happened in those dark days, from his perspective.

 Russ Lloyd’s Diary of 1989 Events: 

1989 Confessions:

ABWE’s 1989 Letters to Churches:

2002: A group of grown MKs tell ABWE leaders attending “The Return” conference that they were also abused by Donn Ketcham as children. The women are promised an investigation, all that is delivered is free counseling (update: counseling not paid until 2010).

2009 SBB Emails ABWE Lawyer:

2011: SBB and the 1989 victim launch this blog to tell their stories and invite truth and transparency to ABWE. ABWE denies wrongdoing until the documents above were released to the public. At which point the board of ABWE acknowledged for the first and only time that the abuser and abuse were mishandled. (Michael Loftis is the only ABWE employee dismissed since this confession, and they deny that his leaving had anything to do with this matter.)

2011 ABWE Announcement:

2012 Update: Despite their initial claims in 2011 that Loftis’ departure had nothing to do with questionable leadership ethics, ABWE made this admission in October 2012. They concede to having also removed Don Davis as council and Russ Ebersole as well. They also concede to dismissing any board members who were around in 1989. 

PLEASE SEE MAIN TEXT AND TIMELINE FOR THE 2013 and 2014 UPDATES.

We hope and pray that this blog will result in a change of heart at ABWE, but we have yet to see a demonstrable change. Since this blog launched, ABWE has shown improving PR skills, a few carefully crafted apologies, and continued acts of self-preservation and secrecy that have been devastating to the victims.

2013 UPDATE: (See 2014 update below.) On Feb. 7, 2013, ABWE summarily dismissed GRACE as the investigative team and hired Pii, a private firm that specializes–according to their own electronic brochure–in confidentiality with their client (read: their job is to protect ABWE). On Feb. 11, 2013, GRACE gave a detailed and thorough response to every allegation slung by ABWE.

The GRACE report was just a few weeks from completion.

Without GRACE, we the victims are no longer guaranteed:

  • That the identity of interviewees (victims and whistle-blowers both) will be protected from ABWE and its current staff
  • That our interviews are not just fodder for ABWE’s lawyers and their potential defense files
  • That there will be FULL public access to the final report* (with victim names protected)
  • That MKs will be granted equal footing on a committee with ABWE employees to determine final outcomes of the report

*NOTE: ABWE does claim that the Pii report will be “public,” however after repeated inquiries, they still refuse to offer us even the smallest detail or guarantee of what that will look like, which means it could look like their Simms Showers report from 2012. That report gave the public, including supporting churches, absolutely no pertinent information regarding the number of pedophiles, names of pedophiles, the countries affected, the number of victims, the employees involved in covering the abuse, etc. That report can be summed up essentially as “we found stuff and we took care of it.”

That is not at all what it means to make report findings public, and yet that was ABWE’s idea of making findings “public” as recently as the fall of 2012. 

2014 UPDATE: Over the past few months ABWE’s private investigative team has finally begun contacting Bangladesh missionaries and MKs for interviews. This firm is called Pii (Professional Investigators International) and is a Mormon-run firm in Spokane, WA, with close ties to Scott Ross who was roundly condemned for mishandling New Tribes abuse cases in GRACE’s New Tribes report. Pii’s only allegiance is to ABWE, their client, with whom they have complete confidentiality. Please refer to this page for things you should consider before agreeing to interview with Pii. (Also, please consult the TIMELINE icon at the top of the page for more details about Pii and ABWE’s ongoing response to MKs, most notably their refusal to answer reasonable questions regarding the investigation.)

When Bob Jones University terminated its agreement with GRACE on February 7, 2014, a year after ABWE did the same, many questions were raised about the legitimacy of ABWE’s claims about GRACE. Hopefully those questions were put to rest when BJU rehired GRACE officially on February 25, 2014, under the exact terms of their original agreement.

We are happy that the BJU survivors have been spared the pain we’ve been through and remain deeply concerned that ABWE has had A FULL YEAR to demonstrate a transformed heart, trustworthiness and transparency to the MK victims, but has failed miserably on all counts.

NOTE: PLEASE REFER TO THE TIMELINE ICON AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE FOR MORE DOCUMENTS AND EXPLANATIONS OF THIS LONG AND DIFFICULT JOURNEY WE HAVE EMBARKED ON TO BRING TRUTH AND INTEGRITY BACK TO ABWE’s MINISTRIES. TIMELINE INCLUDES CURRENT EVENTS AS OF 2014.

Posted in ABWE's Response, Initial Post, Press Releases, Stories and Discussion of Documents | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1,626 Comments

YOU Made a Difference!

Despite my comment on the initial article, despite my two private emails to Kevin Eckstrom, editor-in-chief of RNS (Religion News Services), ABWE was remaining the unnamed “independent Baptist mission agency” in both of Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s articles on Bob Jones and GRACE.

One small voice was not enough to be heard. But a lot of small voices raised in unison can sound like thunder. And apparently your voices raised in unison did!

I received this today and many of you might have as well:

Ladies and gentlemen:

I’m writing to respond to the deluge of emails I’ve received from you in the past 24 hours about RNS coverage of Bob Jones and, indirectly, the ABWE. We always appreciate hearing from readers, even and especially when they think we’ve missed the mark.

A couple of points:

– I have asked my staff to insert the ABWE name into the articles you referenced. That has been done.

– I can assure you that there is absolutely zero attempt on our part to protect or expose anyone, ABWE or otherwise. We are not, as some of you have alleged, trying to “protect their reputation” or “giving them the gift of anonymity” or “saying that the victims do not deserve or need justice.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

– In fact, there was zero discussion on our staff about naming or not naming ABWE in our stories. Perhaps that was an oversight, but it was not an intentional one. In journalism — where space, deadline and staffing pressure loom large — some decisions are made for no particular reason. Both of these stories were written on tight deadlines with minimal staff, and the focus of the stories was meant to stay on Bob Jones; the ABWE was mentioned only in passing, and nothing more.

– You should know we take your concerns seriously, and have responded appropriately. You should also know that RNS is the only mainstream media out with a paid writer (Boz Tchividjian) who is dedicated to writing about abuse in religious settings. So we take this matter seriously and respectfully.

I believe we have addressed your concerns to the best of our ability, and now I would ask you to remove my personal email address from your website–on the Internet, that’s like listing your personal cell phone number for people to call at any hour of the night, and makes my inbox vulnerable to spam.

Thank you,

Kevin Eckstrom
Editor-in-Chief
Religion News Service
529 14th Street NW, Suite 1009
Washington, DC 20045

First of all, friends, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for that “deluge of emails”! Clearly my voice alone on multiple occasions was not enough to elicit any kind of response from RNS. It took the thunder of ALL our voices.

Of course, this reality also leaves great questions about the sincerity of the editor’s remark that “concerns are taken seriously” when clearly it is only the concerns of a LOT of people that are taken seriously.

(Also … a reminder to the world: Sharing someone’s work email address that is readily accessible online is not at all the same thing as sharing someone’s personal cell phone number … just so we’re clear. But as he did what we asked him to do, I did remove his work email address from the post.)

When you are the editor-in-chief of RNS, you will get emails. And when you make a bad call, you will get A LOT of emails. (Welcome to having a really important job!)

Still, I’m grateful we were heard. So thank you, thank you, thank you again!! We have been promised that ABWE is now named in both articles. I hope that RNS has learned something about covering situations of abuse and that something that seems so insignificant to them is actually of huge significance to those involved. We are real people with real names and real stories. Evangelical journalism has a long, long way to go in its collective understanding of abuse and treatment of abuse scandals, but maybe this was one small step toward a better future.

I’m so glad you were part of it with us.

Posted in Press Releases | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Please Help: You CAN Make a Difference

For the first time in a very long time, we’re asking you for your help. There is something very tangible you can do to help that will only take a few minutes of your time. Please read …

With Bob Jones University’s recent firing and then rehiring of GRACE several evangelical news outlets were once again remembering that precisely a year ago ABWE fired GRACE as well.

We found it interesting and disturbing that in the first Religion News Services (RNS) article (Article 1), they did not name ABWE, but simply referred to them as “an independent Baptist missions agency.” They also linked to ABWE’s highly controversial and widely disputed statement regarding why they fired GRACE.

The complaints we lodged were initially ignored. The general editor was contacted and emails were not returned. Then, after a week of efforts, the link to ABWE’s statement was finally removed, but ABWE was still not named.

Well … you might be saying … it wasn’t intentional on the part of RNS or the article’s author. Right??

Fast forward to Bob Jones rehiring GRACE. RNS ran yet another article (Article 2) by the same journalist and yet again did not name ABWE. Once again, ABWE was simply a nameless “independent Baptist mission agency.”

There is truly no reason in either RNS article NOT to name ABWE. It is a newsworthy matter and they were worth mentioning. Why weren’t they worth naming? Why aren’t the victims worth this small effort?

RNS has chosen to be an active participant in ABWE’s reputation protection either because they deem ABWE and its victims to be unworthy of mention or because they are unaware of what a victory that kind of anonymity in the midst of scandal is for an agency like ABWE. RNS handed them a victory, whether they intended to or not and they dealt the victims a blow. We are not surprised. We are used to evangelical journalism turning a blind eye to ABWE. But we think that our voices deserve to be heard.

If you believe that RNS should absolutely be naming ABWE in relevant articles as opposed to referring to it vaguely as a nameless “independent Baptist mission board” then please drop a quick line to Kevin Eckstrom, the general editor of RNS: [EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED AT ECKSTROM'S REQUEST AFTER ABWE WAS NAMED IN BOTH ARTICLES]

WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT AND THANKFUL FOR THOSE WHO WILL TAKE THE TIME TO BE SURE RNS GETS THE MESSAGE LOUD AND CLEAR.

Posted in Press Releases | Tagged , , , , ,

ABWE Fires GRACE, GRACE Responds

February 7, 2013. ABWE publicly fires GRACE according to a website announcement, with no prior notification to the MKs involved.

Friday, February 8, 2013. A member of BangladeshMKsSpeak speaks with Tony Beckett and emails a large number of people at ABWE alarmed that MKs were not informed or even notified of the website announcement. Also in answer to the specific question of whether or not a Pii investigation report would be public, Beckett’s response was that ABWE was focused on “the truth and reconciliation” as evidenced by their “trajectory the past two years and online statements of regret.” When pressed for a real answer he admitted he had none.
 
Saturday, February 9, 2013. A small number of MKs receive an email from Cockrell claiming that he “meant to” inform us of the firing of GRACE first, with no explanation as to why they did not make sure that happened until two days after the fact or why many MKs ABWE has contacted in the past did not receive even THIS email.  Note:  Many still have not received this letter.
 
Monday, February 11, 2013. GRACE responds to ABWE’s allegations and firing here.
 
Today we only wish to say that they (the GRACE team) are total professionals, experienced in investigating child abuse, and with incredible hearts for God. Their bios speak for them and their response to ABWE speaks for them. 
 
Again, we at BangladeshMKsSpeak and every MK we have connected with in the last 48 hours stand behind them 110% and are devastated by ABWE’s highly strategic blow.
Posted in Initial Post | 1 Comment

GRACE Update on ABWE Investigation January 2013

Please read the following update from GRACE:

GRACE Report on ABWE Investigation: January 2013

(Note that any former-MKs wishing to volunteer for the Child Protection Task Force must contact GRACE directly. GRACE’s email address is included in the update.)

Posted in More on G.R.A.C.E., Press Releases | Tagged

News from ABWE

Please see the following update on administrative changes at ABWE, which went live on October 17, 2012:

ABWE Announces Leadership Changes

The changes include the board seeking and receiving the resignations of Don Davis and Russ Ebersole, as well as removing any board members active in 1989 from any existing current ABWE boards.

Posted in ABWE's Response, Stories and Discussion of Documents

A Joint MK Statement to ABWE of Solidarity on These Points

Though recent allegations have divided the MKs of Bangladesh, we believe in these last days of the GRACE investigation it is important to remember that which unites us. We do not wish for Satan to have yet another victory in this saga by placing walls between us in these final hours.

So, we wish to remind you and remind ABWE of the things we stand for, undivided:

1. ABWE has not only failed in the past to address child sexual abuse properly–as they have admitted–but their mishandling continues to this day with half-hearted internal investigations with secret outcomes, as demonstrated in the Simms Showers investigation. We ask for thorough investigating by true third parties in the future, for a full disclosure of the Simms Showers report(s) and any future reports, including a response from the accused, with only victims’ names protected. We also agree that the child abuse policy/guidelines at ABWE should be balanced enough that there are protections built in for both the accuser and the accused. We hope that ABWE will allow GRACE to inform such policies and allow for input from adult MKs.

2. ABWE has not properly and publicly addressed their handling of administrative employees who were involved in child sexual abuse mishandling, including Michael Loftis, who they maintain publicly left for unrelated reasons.

3. ABWE has not properly and publicly investigated and addressed concerns of sexual misconduct by nationals on the field of Bangladesh and concerns that nationals may have been abused by Donn Ketcham. All victims matter, not just MKs.

4. We do not desire to destroy ABWE, but rather to see it restored to its former reputation of integrity.

We hope that our fellow Bangladesh MKs will agree with us on these points and join us in praying that God would work in all of our hearts at this time. Signed as one …

  • Rick Adolph
  • Susannah (Beals) Baker
  • Nathan Barrick
  • Deborah (Barrick) Beddoe
  • Scott Benedict
  • Daniel DeCook
  • David DeCook
  • Stephen DeCook
  • Diana (James) Durrill
  • Diane (Walsh) Ford
  • Mark Goddard
  • Kimberly James
  • Debi (Totman) Martin
  • Lynda (Adolph) Miller
  • Tamara (Barrick) Rice
  • Cindy (Adolph) Smith
  • Anne (James) Smith
  • Eric Tower
  • Jonathan Tower
  • Debbie Walsh
  • Doug Walsh
  • Phil Walsh
  • Susannah (Goddard) Weldy
  • Linda (Walsh) Zylstra

If you would like your name added as a Bangladesh MK, please message us on our Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/BangladeshMKsSpeak and we’ll be sure you get added.

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NOTE: The blog will take an indefinite time of silence to be in prayer. We ask you to join us in petitioning God for our unity, peace and comfort in God’s sovereignty. We will continue to post verses on Facebook as reminders to pray, but it will not be a place for discussion at this time. 

Posted in ABWE's Response, Blog Information, Initial Post, Press Releases, Stories and Discussion of Documents | 1 Comment

Who Can Hold ABWE Accountable? Churches, Denominations, Affiliations and YOU

We need your help to spread awareness to various denominations and evangelical affiliations with ties to ABWE. They have the influence necessary to inspire action at ABWE headquarters in ways we have not been able to.

Below you will find suggestions for your emails (please speak from your heart) and a list of contacts to choose from. We encourage you to make your voices heard.

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little—do what you can.”   —  Sidney Smith

Points to Bring Up:

  • The Simms Showers investigation. We’re concerned about the vague number of cases, the quality of the investigation, and lack of transparency. How can we be sure ABWE did due diligence when they have not in the past? Continue reading
Posted in Initial Post | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments