Well, hell just froze over. Greenville News:
Bob Jones University said it has appointed an outside Christian organization as an ombudsman to review “past instances in which it is alleged that the university under-served a victim or didn’t comply with the law in handling reports of abuse.”
The action follows the recommendations of a committee that was appointed by the BJU board of trustees upon the request of President Stephen Jones “to review the institution’s sexual abuse policy and its application.”
The committee had 3 outside members, a doctor, sexual abuse counsellor and a child advocate. For leadership at this school to release control to outside parties is unprecedented. BJU pr:
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.
Whether the fundamentalist university will be able or willing to follow the recommendations G.R.A.C.E. makes, remains to be seen. No ones knows how many students have suffered spiritual abuse, assault, blame, shunning or expulsion for being a victim of crime, the culture of the school has not been open to reporting.
The school apologized in 2008 for it’s racial policies, and has been seeking accreditation. BJU has also moved away from it’s involvement in politics.
G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) is a Virginia based organization, founded in 2004, which works to prevent and respond to child abuse in religious organizations (church and parachurch). G.R.A.C.E. provides prevention training, response assistance, consultations and investigations. The organization, made up of professionals such as prosecutors, investigators and a mental health professional has had it’s public profile raised with investigations of the abuse of missionary kids. (New Tribe Missions, Association of Baptists for World Evangelism) via: MK Safetynet.
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.