Why the ABWE Letter Still Matters, Innocent or Guilty

If you believe that Jay Walsh is innocent of the allegations against him, the document from ABWE still deserves your attention. What does it indicate:

  1. The investigation had some holes. Simms Showers/ABWE didn’t even attempt to interview a key witness. That’s a problem, by any standard.
  2. ABWE clearly determined (their determination, yes, not a court of law) that he was guilty enough that they had to sever ties. And yet they tried to do it very quietly and secretly, once again hiding matters involving child sexual abuse. That’s a problem, by any standard. I believe that even if you think he is innocent you should still agree with the premise that secretly dismissing any man for breach of a child sexual abuse policy is a problem.
  3. Even if you believe in Jay Walsh’s innocence you have to admit that ignoring allegations against him in 1979/1980 and again in 1989, recanted under duress or not, is strange. That’s a problem, by any standard.
  4. ADDED: Also the letter proves that yet another terrible travesty happened with Russ and Russ in 1989. A 14-year-old girl accused someone other than DK and not only did they never tell her parents, they questioned her until she recanted.

So, in short, the point is that you can fully believe in Jay Walsh’s innocence and still see the inherent problems that the ABWE letter to him exposes.

I believe that people around a man in ministry must be able to make their own choice in this matter–to believe allegations or not to believe allegations. To take that choice away from them is unacceptable. And let’s call them that, because that’s what they are “allegations,” which ABWE found credible.

If your child attended a school were there were allegations against a teacher would you not be outraged if you were not informed the allegations existed? If allegations existed against your pastor and you were not informed, would you not be outraged?

So, I guess the point could be summed up by a bumper sticker I saw the other day:

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

And that should be true for those who believe in Jay’s innocence as well as those who believe in his guilt.



About Bangladesh MKs Speak

We are a group of American former missionary kids (MKs) who lived in Bangladesh while Donn Ketcham worked as a missionary doctor there with the mission agency Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
This entry was posted in Abuse Mishandling, ABWE's Response, Stories and Discussion of Documents. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Why the ABWE Letter Still Matters, Innocent or Guilty

  1. amazed says:

    Totally agree. I’d add to this that ABWE has an integrity problem. Consider, their entire past handling of an issue similar to this one: which has resulted in many more lives ruined. Should we consider whether they are making a similar mistake? I’d have to say it is within the realm of possibility. They are distancing themselves for self-preservation and possibly keeping it quiet to continue on as usual. The reliability of ABWE is to be questioned, because of who they hired to investigate this, and the speed at which it was accomplished. Since there is also a claim that a key witness was not interviewed also adds up to something not being right at ABWE. Concerning whether Jay Walsh did those things, my conclusion is that something occurred, because if nothing occurred then a solipsistic entity such as ABWE would have kept him. Either that or he is not considered part of the approved network anymore. I’m outraged that people have forgotten that they still have on staff a man who was directly involved in the 1989 interviews. A man who mishandled it, but all they have done is to move him within the walls of the ABWE world. When you add those things together your doubt meter about ABWE should be on full red alert.

    The investigation needs to be broader and deeper. To really get to the truth, buttoning things up helps no one in the long run. Truth will set you free . . . I truly believe that for all even when we don’t want to face it. Praying and waiting.

  2. steve DeCook says:

    Tamara – I agree. The letter still matters. If I understand what I am reading correctly, the ABWE letter clearly indicates that board of directors of ABWE believes that Donn Ketcham is a credible witness – based on comments he made at the very moment he had been forced (under duress) to confess HIS sins of child sexual abuse. How could he be trusted to tell the truth? Russ Lloyds notes (pg5) say “The fact remains, however, that we saw no remorse. Is this man really broken? Really repentent? Really ready to do business with God?” In fact, the entire reference to Kim and Don appears to be entirely based on Russ and Russ’s notes from 1989. The letter does not identify when Kim recanted, or when Kim re-asserted her allegation, and no reference to why they failed to interview her. How do SimmsShower or the Board of ABWE explain why they believe that Russ and Russ coerced Kim to recant of her allegations against Jay Walsh while at the same time the board chose to believed Donn Ketcham’s allegations about Jay Walsh? This makes no sense. Perhaps the allegation was something Donn had designed as a cover.
    The ABWE letter presents the board’s conclusions and establishment of consequences. I am sure it was not intended to provide the evidence by which an independant party could make the same conclusions. They were asking the churches to “trust their judgment” in much the same way as they have asked all of us to “trust their judgment” in their past handling of these situations. To include allegations from Donn Ketcham leaves as suspect not only this letter to Jay Walsh, but the entire body of work based on the Simms Showers report! On what basis am I to believe that they did either the right job or that they did the job right?
    To me, the ABWE letter exposes serious flaws at ABWE, including their misguided sense of when information should be made public and when it should be held private. They established an arbitrary time frame to investigate and clear their “historical” problems. They used information the lawyers had collected, but did not dig any further to clarify questions or remove ambiguities. To me, it seems that they were not willing to do the hard work – to really investigate both sides of the issue, and seek out the truth in a situation where the truth is not readily apparent. They seem to be forgetting that the God they serve is the revealer of secrets – to Joseph in prison in Egypt, to Daniel. (let us not forget that Joseph was in prison based on a false accusation, and God did not abandon him there.) God is not limited in His ability to uphold righteousness and to punish wickedness. But we cannot demand of God that He make the unambiguous truth clear in a lawyers report by 31 May, just because someone feels that is long enough, or it is time to take action. Acting on poor information is every bit as bad as failing to act on good information! To me it seems reasonable to expect the board of directors of a mission agency to do a much more thorough job than that which is depicted in the ABWE letter – so that both parties are treated fairly, and so that the constituents can have confidence in their leaders. I would like to see how ABWE applies Matthew 18:15-17 to their disciplinary process – or any other biblical reference they use as a basis for their policy. .
    Based solely on the ABWE letter, I could not support finding fault in Jay Walsh. ABWE has a long way to go in establishing a credible process and methodology for investigating issues under their child protection policy. I have no more confidence today than I had a year ago in the ability and commitment of ABWE to establishing the truth as their basis of action.

    Steve DeCook

    • isaiah 618 says:

      Great points, Steve. You are right about a lot of things. The letter leaves many questions regarding what ABWE is doing and what this investigation was like. ABWE needs to start answering these questions.

      Thank you for your perspective. I hope all our readers read your comments.

      — TR

  3. On your points regarding the letter, please do not take this as an attack – I would just like some clarification.
    1. Have you directly asked ABWE/Showers if they attempted to contact the witness?
    2. There are many comments about “secrecy”. In this case, where no legal authorities are involved, do you regard ABWE informing the supporting and attending churches, whose authority the missionary and ABWE is under, as secret? Why shouldn’t the churches be the ones to decide appropriate measures?
    3. Do you know for a fact that the allegations in 1980 were “ignored” or were they investigated and not found credible?

    • isaiah 618 says:

      Great questions, JBC.

      1. Yes. The answer of ABWE/Showers is that they were told by GRACE not to contact her. GRACE says they said “wait until she’s out of the treatment center.” They’ll have to sort it out, but the bottom line is that they didn’t contact her.

      2. Great question about secrecy. I think there are some questions ABWE needs to answer about who was told. One letter says the sending and current churches only. Their statement on their site leads one to believe all supporting churches. So it’s unclear who they told and did not tell, but my biggest issue–provided legal authorities were told–is that missionaries who shared the field were not told. I believe it’s a high breach of trust for ABWE not to disclose such a decision to people whose children grew up around a person. Churches would have no way of finding these families, but ABWE would.

      3. From what I have read in transcripts it seems that ignored is absolutely the correct term.

      Thanks for asking, I hope the answers were helpful.

      – TR

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