May 2012 G.R.A.C.E. Investigation Report
ABWE Headquarters — There are three flagpoles in front of our office in Harrisburg. Two of them fly the American and Canadian flags, and the third changes each month, in honor of one of the more than 70 nations where ABWE serves. This month, because of a sequence determined years ago, the third flag is from Bangladesh, a visible reminder of not only those who are faithfully serving God in that special land but also of the reality of sin in a fallen world and its horrible consequences.
In May 2011, ABWE entered into an agreement with the G.R.A.C.E. organization, asking it to investigate the tragic child abuse more than two decades ago by Donn Ketcham in Bangladesh. At the time, we wrote to tell you why it was so necessary for us to probe deeply into what happened in 1989 and its aftermath.
This May, we need to give you an update, to open our heart to you about how deeply we are grieved by the hurt caused by actions so wrong that they can only be described as indefensible. We need also to tell you about the changes we have already made.
The G.R.A.C.E. investigation is not complete, and we do not know how much longer it will take to complete it. However, we already know of things that need to be changed. Repentance does not wait.
The first step in repentance is to acknowledge one’s failure. We have acknowledged that people in leadership positions made decisions that were unwise and unacceptable. These include:
- the signing of a confession by the first known victim;
- the insistence the victim ask forgiveness of the perpetrator;
- the failure to investigate fully the first reported incident to determine if there were other victims;
- the failure to fully inform the sending and supporting churches of the specific nature of Donn Ketcham’s sin;
- the failure to fully investigate when MKs informed ABWE of additional victims;
- lack of notification of all appropriate authorities;
- by using the phrase moral failure, we failed to clearly identify the sin as child abuse; and
- the inadequate response to those MKs who sought help from ABWE.
The second step in repentance is to change. Over the past year, we have made a series of personnel moves that ensure no one involved in these decisions will be involved in such matters at ABWE again.
We have reported Donn Ketcham’s abuse to the Michigan Board of Medicine, which resulted in the surrendering of his medical licenses.
ABWE also hired a highly experienced independent investigator to conduct a much more extensive examination of ABWE beyond the actions of Donn Ketcham. This investigative team looked into our history to determine if other child abuse issues had been mishandled.
A search of our records found other incidents. Each is being reinvestigated and handled in accordance with currently acceptable legal practices, including the notification of authorities and supporting churches. We are continuing our intense efforts to strengthen our child safety policy, protocols, training, and use of independent investigators.
We have begun the process of meeting with the families of victims of the tragic child abuse by Donn Ketcham in Bangladesh. It is our desire to meet with all the MKs who have been hurt and do whatever we can to right our past failures. We desire to express to them directly our regret.
Although we will never be able to change what has happened, we are committed to redressing the wrongs and making right what we can. Please be in prayer for us as we seek to fulfill God’s plan for reconciliation.