(GREENVILLE, SC) November 8, 2012 . . . Bob Jones University announced today that it has appointed GRACE, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, headquartered in Lynchburg, Va., as an independent ombudsman.
In December 2011, Dr. Stephen Jones, president of Bob Jones University, announced that the Board of Trustees had approved his request that they form a committee to review BJU’s sexual abuse policy and its application. In light of national media reports of the mishandling of sexual abuse, including on college campuses, Dr. Jones wanted to make absolutely certain BJU’s policies and procedures both fully comply with the law and ensure a loving, scripturally based response.
The five-member committee included three members of the community not connected with the University. It included a sexual abuse counselor, a child advocate and a medical doctor. The committee issued a thorough report in May. As part of its recommendations, the committee suggested the University appoint an independent ombudsman to review past instances in which it is alleged that the University underserved a victim or did not comply with the law in handling reports of abuse. The University agreed to the recommendation and said that when an ombudsman was appointed, information on how to contact the ombudsman to communicate past issues would be posted on the University’s website.
Founded in 2003 to help train and equip Christians to address issues associated with abuse, GRACE is an independent organization focusing primarily on prevention and response. The group works with churches and other Christian organizations on minimizing opportunities for abuse to occur within their environments and assists groups in responding to abuse disclosures in a manner that demonstrates both knowledge of the issues and compassion to those involved.
In recent years, GRACE has assisted Christian institutions in addressing allegations of alleged mishandling of past abuse disclosures. As an independent third party investigator, they are able to provide an open and objective analysis of the facts which typically engenders trust of the complainants and leads to an appropriate, compassionate response.
During the coming weeks, GRACE will finalize its procedures for collecting data from individuals who feel they were underserved by BJU when they reported abuse. Upon finalizing its procedures, GRACE will notify BJU who will post on its website procedures for contacting GRACE. GRACE has informed BJU that the independent investigation will begin immediately after the new year. At that time, GRACE will act independently of the University and work directly with any possible complainants. In the meantime, GRACE can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The announcement of the ombudsman was made at the conclusion of a conference for pastors and church leaders on Sexual Abuse and the Church sponsored by Bob Jones University Seminary and held on the university campus Nov. 6-8. In making the announcement, the University said that it is being proactive in contracting with an independent group to review any possible allegations of past issues so that any appropriate remediation can be identified and implemented and so that the University can ensure proper procedures are in place for handling any future reports.
Bob Jones University considers all forms of abuse and neglect abhorrent and believes that victims of abuse are not to be blamed for being the object of abuse. Abuse is an all too prevalent issue throughout our society today, and BJU is committed to responding biblically, complying with the law and serving victims of abuse with compassion.
Published November 8, 2012