PRESIDENT PETTIT OF BOB JONES UNIVERSITY ACKNOWLEDGES MISTREATMENT OF SEX ABUSE VICTIMS; VOWS TO IMPLEMENT CHANGES
Bob Jones University Apologizes for Failing Sexual Abuse Victims
The investigation findings demonstrate that Bob Jones University responded poorly to many students who disclosed being sexually victimized. As a result of the school’s flawed responses, many of these students were deeply hurt and experienced further trauma. The report outlines these painful experiences, as well as identifies and analyzes certain systemic institutional behaviors that contributed to the pain suffered by abused victims. The report concludes with 26 recommendations that “will assist BJU in continuing the journey of repentance that demonstrates Godward sorrow, invites God to transform the institution, and brings healing to the hurting.”
The report stated that BJU officials were not adequately prepared or trained to counsel victims appropriately.
University staff members were perceived by some to be insensitive to their suffering and sometimes rushed to resolve their negative feelings without adequate concern for their pain.
Some victims reported that the counseling offered by the University was inadequate, insensitive and counter-productive.
Some felt a number of staff members at the University tended to blame victims for the abuse or sexual assault they experienced and that this implied blame left them feeling more traumatized.
The report found that counseling sometimes overlapped with disciplinary actions. Victims felt counseling should be separated from BJU’s discipline process and a clear procedure of confidentiality should be established.
- outsourcing BJU's sexual abuse counseling,
- offering to pay the rest of tuition for sex abuse victims who left BJU prior to earning their degrees, and
- cutting ties with BJU's most prominent counseling leaders (Walter Fremont, Bob Wood, and Jim Berg) by removing their books, curriculum, and teachings from the school's bookstores, and banning any BJU endorsements or recommendations of material or individuals associated with their philosophy or movement.
At this moment in history, Bob Jones University has been given an exceptional opportunity to be a voice of hope, compassion, and love that many victims of sexual abuse so desperately need(ed) and desire(d) during their time on campus. If Bob Jones University responds to these expressions of pain and loss with repentance and genuine commitment for substantive change, it will begin to comfort the afflicted while reflecting a love for the One who is able to heal and transform individuals and institutions.
To make every member of the faculty and staff a mandatory reporter which requires each to promptly notify law enforcement officials of child sexual abuse.
To encourage adult victims of sexual assault to report their experience to the appropriate law enforcement officials.
To make clear that the biblical lesson of forgiveness does not imply that the victim is in any way responsible for the sexual assault or abuse they experienced.
To provide more extensive training and access to professional counselors with expertise in sexual abuse for University personnel who interact with victims coming to them for care and compassion.
Nine students reported being touched by a single perpetrator in the campus library during regular library hours. The nine students reported the incidents to campus authorities the same day. BJU has a no tolerance policy and immediately facilitated the reporting of the incidents to the Greenville Police Department and offered counseling to the students. The student was dismissed. Representatives of the solicitor’s office interviewed the nine students and over the next months resolved the matter through the legal system.The category under which BJU reported the offenses—forcible sexual offense—includes a wide range of offenses. This does not diminish the gravity of the situation as we are grieved over any kind of sexual misconduct.
Statement from BJU’s President
on the GRACE Report
FULL G.R.A.C.E. REPORT: http://netgrace.org/wp-content/uploads/Final-Report.pdf
VIDEO OF PRESIDENT PETTIT'S ANNOUNCEMENT INCLUDED:
sexual assault before or while at BJU. Some stated to GRACE that Bob Jones University did not meet their needs when they came to us for counseling and advice. Some also stated that the counseling they received made them feel responsible for the crimes against them.