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February 11, 2013 Dr. Al Cockrell ABWE Executive Administrator P.O. Box 8585 Harrisburg, PA 17105-8585 Dear Dr. Cockrell: We are deeply saddened by ABWE’s decision to terminate our engagement agreement only a few weeks from the issuance of our final report. As you know, many MKs and their families have been waiting for a decade to have an independent investigation of Ketcham and ABWE’s handling of this matter. We suspect that, for many of these individuals, your decision will inflict a pain as great as any they have ever known. In your termination letter, and in your public postings, you allege that GRACE committed a myriad of investigative “flaws.” As you know, we agreed to meet with you and other ABWE representatives to discuss the alleged “errors” in the investigation and assured you that we could alleviate any alleged concerns. The GRACE team regrets that ABWE chose not to meet with us. In addition to responding to the alleged investigative “flaws”, it is important to recount ABWE’s repeated failures to comply with the contractual obligations to GRACE. These contractual breaches included repeated objections to providing requested documents and the failure to provide such documents in a timely matter, if at all. ABWE further breached the contract by failing to provide GRACE with access to critical witnesses associated with your organization. ABWE’s contractual breaches needlessly delayed this investigation and impaired our ability to fully evaluate ABWE’s response to the crimes perpetrated by Donn Ketcham. When placed in the context of ABWE’s conduct over the past 20 months, the termination of GRACE strongly suggests ABWE is unwilling to have itself investigated unless the investigation is within your control. We pray that is not the case.
We have listed below each of your stated claims for termination—and the response of GRACE. 1. GRACE has not used “acceptable practice and professional techniques in interviews to obtain truthful statements.” The GRACE team consists of seasoned child protection professionals who have prosecuted hundreds of child abuse cases,1 published numerous scholarly works on child abuse,2 testified as
Three members of the GRACE investigative team are former child abuse prosecutors. An additional child abuse prosecutor is also on our board of directors. 2 Peer- reviewed book chapters and other scholarly works on child abuse authored or co-authored by members of the GRACE team include: Basyle J. Tchividjian, The Proper Approach for Determining the Admissibility of Prior Bad Acts Evidence in Child Sexual Abuse Prosecutions, 39(3) AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW 327 (2012); Basyle J. Tchividjian, Victor Vieth, et al, Child Abuse and the Church: A Call for Prevention, Treatment, and Training, 40(4) JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY & THEOLOGY (2012); Basyle Tchividjian and Victor I. Vieth, When the Child Abuser Has a Bible: Investigating Child Maltreatment Sanctioned or Condoned by a Religious Leader, 2(12) CENTERPIECE (National Child Protection Training Center 2011); Basyle Tchividjian, Training Christian Prosecutors in Child Abuse Litigation, 2(1) LIBERTY LEGAL JOURNAL (2011); Basyle Tchividjian and Diane Langberg, Practical Suggestions for Legal Protections, 17(3) CHRISTIAN COUNSELING TODAY (2010); Basyle Tchividjian, Worship and Children: A Missional Response to Child Sexual Abuse, in HOW AND WHY TO BE MISSIONAL AND REFORMED (FORTHCOMING FROM NEW GROWTH PRESS); Victor I. Vieth, The Forensic Interviewer in Court: Proposed Guidelines for Admitting Expert Testimony on Forensic Interviewing, 36(1) WILLIAM MITCHELL LAW REVIEW 186 (2009); Victor I. Vieth, Unto the Third Generation: A Call to End Child Abuse in the United States Within 120 Years (Revised and Expanded), 28 HAMLINE JOURNAL OF PUBLIC LAW & POLICY 1 (Fall 2006); Victor I. Vieth, When the Child Abuser is a Child: Investigating, Prosecuting and Treating Juvenile Sex Offenders in the New Millennium, 25 HAMLINE L.. REV. 48 (2001); Victor I. Vieth, In My Neighbor’s House: A Proposal to Address Child Abuse in Rural America, 22 HAMLINE LAW REVIEW 143 (1998); Victor I. Vieth, Passover in Minnesota: Mandated Reporting and the Unequal Protection of Abused Children, 24 WM. MITCHELL L. REV. 131 (1998); Victor I. Vieth, The Mutilation of a Child’s Spirit: A Call for a New Approach to Termination of Parental Rights in Cases of Child Abuse, 20 WM. MITCHELL L. REV. 727 (1994); Victor I. Vieth, Corporal Punishment in the United States: A Call for a New Approach to the Prosecution of Disciplinarians, 15 J. JUVENILE L. 22 (1994); Victor I. Vieth, Broken Promises: A Call for Witness Tampering Sanctions in Cases of Child and Domestic Abuse, 18 HAMLINE L. REV. 181 (1994); Victor I. Vieth, Michele S. Knox, & Heather Pelletier, Effects of Medical Student Training in Child Advocacy and Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention, PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA: THEORY, RESEARCH, PRACTICE & POLICY (Forthcoming 2013); Victor I. Vieth, What Would Walther Do? Applying Law & Gospel to Victims and Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse, 40(4) JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY AND THEOLOGY 257(2012); Victor I. Vieth & Michael Johnson, When the Call Comes: APSAC’s Historic Recognition of Law Enforcement Officers and Prosecutors as Professionals, APSAC ADVISOR 25 (Winter/Spring 2012); Victor I. Vieth, Commentary on How Child Protective Service Investigators Decide to Substantiate Mothers for Failure to Protect in Sexual Abuse Cases, 15(4) JOURNAL OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE 105-110 (2006); Victor I. Vieth, Shadow Children: Addressing the Commercial Exploitation of Children in Rural America, published in MEDICAL AND LEGAL ASPECTS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (GW MEDICAL PUBLISHING 2005) (co-authored with Erika Ragland); Victor I. Vieth, Keeping the Faith: A Call for Collaboration between the Faith and Child Protection Communities, published in MEDICAL AND LEGAL ASPECTS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (GW MEDICAL PUBLISHING 2005); Victor I. Vieth, et al, Hearing the Cry: Investigating and Prosecuting Adult Sexual Assault Cases, published in SEXUAL ASSAULT: VICTIMIZATION ACROSS THE LIFE SPAN, A CLINICAL GUIDE (GW MEDICAL PUBLISHING 2003);Victor I. Vieth, When Faith Hurts: Overcoming Spirituality Based Blocks and Problems Before, During and After the Forensic Interview, 20 (4) & 20(5) UPDATE (National District Attorneys Association 2007); Langberg, Diane (2005). “Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse: Trauma, Treatment & Living in the Truth,” In Tim Clinton, Archibald Hart, George Ohlschlager, (Eds), Caring for People God’s Way. (pp.411-445). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers; Langberg, Diane (2002). “Profile of a Shepherd-Counselor: Lessons Learned from the Good Shepherd” In Timothy Clinton & George Ohlschlager, (Eds), Competent Christian Counseling. (pp.712-724). Colorado Springs, Colorado: WaterBrook Press; Langberg, Diane (2002). Coping With Traumatic Memory. Marriage & Family: A Christian Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, 447-456; Langberg, Diane (1999). Marriage: A Two-Voice Invention. Marriage &
experts in courts of law, testified before congress,3 developed law school courses on child abuse,4 received national awards for work in addressing child abuse,5 oversee a national trauma recovery program,6 and have taught thousands of child abuse investigators throughout the country on proper investigative practices. This is not to say we are infallible or incapable of error. However, our extensive experience and knowledge of these cases gives us considerable confidence in concluding our investigation was conducted with the utmost integrity. Under this section of your letter, ABWE gives only one example to support its claim that we failed to adhere to “acceptable practice”, contending GRACE allowed a number of witnesses, including “many victims” to be housed at the same hotel and “allowed the witnesses to compare stories7 BEFORE the interviews, thereby tainting the testimony so much that it would not have been admissible in a court of law, according to former VA Attorney General Mark Early.” This analysis is flawed in at least five respects. First, many of the MKs and other witnesses had already communicated with each other in forums such as a public blog, social media, in-person meetings, and other communications that took place well before GRACE was retained. Accordingly, to the extent communication among the witnesses was an issue in this investigation, it was an issue that had existed from the beginning and would have remained regardless of where the witnesses stayed during their interviews with the GRACE team. If the witnesses had stayed at separate hotels, it is highly likely that ABWE would have objected that the witnesses were in the same city or interviewed in the same building, albeit at different times and separate from one another. Even if the GRACE team had interviewed these witnesses in separate hotels or cities, it is extremely easy for witnesses to communicate with each other in the modern media age. In child abuse cases, particularly cases of abuse within an institution, it is common for witnesses to know one another and to have had multiple conversations with each other. Within an institution, many witnesses know each other, have grown up with each other, or are even friends
Family: A Christian Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, 37-45; Langberg, Diane (1996). “Clergy Sexual Abuse,” In Catherine Clark Kroeger & James R. Beck (Eds), Women, Abuse, and the Bible. (pp. 58-69). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. DIANE LANGBERG, ON THE THRESHOLD OF HOPE: OPENING THE DOOR TO HEALING FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE, (TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC., 1999); DIANE LANGBERG, COUNSELING SURVIVOR’S OF SEXUAL ABUSE, (XULON PRESS, 2003)Holcomb, Justin S., Grace for Victims in TODD BREWER & JADY KOCH, EDS, COMFORTABLE WORDS ESSAYS IN HONOR OF PAUL F. M. ZAHL(EUGENE: PICKWICK PUBLICATIONS 2013). 3 Stephanie Smith and Victor Vieth have both testified before congress on the need to improve the training of child protection professionals in the United States. 4 Basyle Tchividjian helped to develop and currently teaches Child Abuse & the Law at Liberty University School of Law. 5 For example, Diane Langberg is a recipient of the American Association of Christian Counselor’s Caregiver Award; Victor Vieth is a recipient of the 2012 Pro Humanitate Award from the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare. 6 Phil Monroe and Diane Langberg oversee the Global Trauma Recovery Institute. For more information, visit: http://globaltraumarecovery.org/ 7 GRACE does not use the word “story” in reference to an allegation of abuse because it has an appearance of presumption that the complainant is making up the allegation
or family members, and thus communication between them is not uncommon. Those accused of wrongdoing often cite these facts in an effort to undermine the credibility of accusers by claiming the witnesses’ statements to investigators are “tainted.”8 Second, and more importantly, the issue is not whether the alleged victims or other witnesses have had a conversation. The issue is whether these conversations in any way taint their statements. In this case, the GRACE team is unaware of any evidence that any witness attempted to “compare stories” or otherwise work in concert in inventing, embellishing or otherwise coaching one or more parties into making a false allegation or statement. Indeed, the fact the statements GRACE received are not entirely consistent contradicts this suggestion. Because GRACE was aware that some witnesses had spoken with other witnesses at various points in time, we were consistently clarifying what each witness actually observed, heard, or was told by others. To date, our team has found no evidence of taint. If ABWE has evidence to the contrary, this should have been shared with GRACE pursuant to the terms of our engagement agreement. Third, ABWE’s claim that communication among witnesses and alleged victims makes their statements “inadmissible in a court of law” is contradicted by thousands of successful abuse prosecutions even when the accused claims the victim’s testimony was tainted. Indeed, only a small number of jurisdictions even entertain a motion to exclude an alleged child abuse victim’s testimony based on issues of taint. The majority of courts conclude that this is simply one factor for the trier of fact to consider when evaluating the credibility of a child’s statements.9 Keep in mind that the issue of taint is primarily focused on child witnesses, not adult witnesses as was interviewed in the present investigation. This is because very young witnesses may be more susceptible to improper suggestions or pressures. Fourth, ABWE fails to recognize that, although it is important that witnesses not improperly influence the statements of others, there can also be investigative benefit in these conversations. Of all institutions, ABWE should clearly realize this benefit. ABWE’s response to the 1989 allegations against Ketcham was to conduct a very limited investigation and to directly and indirectly instruct those on the field not to speak about Donn Ketcham’s acts of child molestation. If ABWE had encouraged open dialogue and invited parents and others to share concerns, it is possible that the additional allegations of abuse related to Donn Ketcham would have surfaced years earlier. Indeed, it was at a 2002 MK reunion that alleged victims began to speak about the abuse and to realize that each of them was not alone in their experiences with
For a general overview of issues involving the tainting of a child victim’s testimony, and the argument this is simply one additional issue a trier of fact should consider, see generally, John E.B. Myers, Taint Hearings for Child Witnesses? A Step in the Wrong Direction, 46 BAYLOR LAW REVIEW 873 (1994). 9 JOHN E.B. MYERS, MYERS ON EVIDENCE IN CHILD, DOMESTIC AND ELDER ABUSE CASES 38-42 (ASPEN PUBLISHING 2005)
Donn Ketcham. In other words, it was only when alleged victims were able to communicate with each other that concerns about abuse crystallized.10 Finally, the issue of taint is not only an issue when considering the statements of victims and their families, but also of the alleged offender, and any other agent of ABWE who may have spoken to their own families, or to each other about the facts of this case. This is the balanced approach utilized by GRACE in this case. 2. GRACE has not recorded many of the interviews to ensure accuracy and context of the interviewees’ testimony, which is standard operating procedure for any independent investigation, especially as to alleged victims and key witnesses. The manual Investigation and Prosecution of Child Abuse, published by the American Prosecutors Research Institute/National District Attorneys Association, and edited by one of the members of the GRACE team, states that there are “persuasive arguments for and against videotaping”11 or otherwise recording interviews of alleged child abuse victims. Some of these advantages exist primarily in cases of criminal or civil child protection investigation where the victim’s recorded statements can be used as substantive evidence. However, this advantage primarily applies when taking the statements of young children, typically children below the age of 12.12 In this case, of course, none of the witnesses interviewed by the GRACE team were children and this was not a criminal or civil child protection investigation. Accordingly, some of these stated advantages to recording did not exist. Even when these advantages exist, some respected child protection professionals oppose the recording of victim’s statements, at least as a routine matter, because such a “one size fits all” approach fails to take into account the unique circumstances of each investigation. For example, Ken Lanning, a retired FBI agent and nationally recognized expert on child abuse investigations, expresses these concerns: Many videotaping advocates do not seem to recognize the wide diversity of circumstances and dynamics comprising sexual-victimization-of-children cases. Interviewing a 12-year old boy who is suspected of having been molested by his coach is far different from interviewing a 9-year-old girl who has disclosed having been sexually abused by her father. Interviewing a runaway 15-year old
It is also important to note that when victims realize they are not alone, they are often emboldened to support one another and take action against those who hurt them. Many of the civil claims against churches came about with press coverage that led victims to realize they were not alone. See Timothy D. Lytton, HOLDING BISHOPS ACCOUNTABLE: HOW LAWSUITS HELPED THE CATHOLIC CHURCH CONFRONT CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE 25 (HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS 2008) (noting that press coverage of clergy abuse by Father Porter resulted in many victims coming forward). 11 AMERICAN PROSECUTORS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF CHILD ABUSE THIRD EDITION 42-43 (2004). 12 AMERICAN PROSECUTORS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF CHILD ABUSE 369-372 (2004).
inner-city street prostitute is far different from interviewing a middle-class 5 year old kidnapped from her backyard by a child molester. Interviewing a Native American child in a Hogan without electricity on a remote reservation is far different from interviewing a white child in a specially designed interview room at a child advocacy center in a wealthy suburb.13 In this case, GRACE was dealing with a unique circumstance in which routinely recording the statements of witnesses may have inhibited the collection of evidence. In cases of institutional child abuse, especially abuse within a religious institution, many victims are deeply afraid of how information provided may be used against them. Many adult survivors of child abuse suffer from numerous medical and mental health conditions.14 As a result of childhood trauma, these witnesses are more likely to have abused drugs or alcohol, committed acts of juvenile delinquency, been promiscuous or have failed relationships, or have tried to kill themselves.15 Although an adult survivor may want to share these experiences with an investigator, and these experiences are likely relevant to the investigation, the survivor is often frightened that third parties will obtain and use the information to embarrass, frighten, or intimidate them or their family. This is a very legitimate concern. In a review of civil litigation between adult survivors and religious institutions that failed to protect these children, Albany law professor Timothy Lytton notes church attorneys “have asked victims to discuss embarrassing matters such as sexual affairs, substance abuse, criminal convictions, homosexuality, and abortions, the revelation of which cause irreparable harm to the victim’s personal life and reputation.”16 In this case, GRACE encountered a number of witnesses who expressed grave concerns that a recorded or transcribed product might, through litigation or otherwise, end up in the possession of their perpetrators or others associated with their abuse. This is an understandable concern since many of the witnesses were sharing intimate details of painful experiences and the physical, emotional, and spiritual impact of these experiences. Accordingly, it was our conclusion that a recording or the presence of a stenographer could inhibit a full and complete disclosure of information necessary to this investigation. When not recording an interview, the NDAA manual on child abuse investigations recommends detailed note taking with the notes taken by someone other than the interviewer.17 This is the procedure GRACE used for most of the interviews. Research on investigative note taking reveals
Ken Lanning, Acquaintance Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis, in COOPER, ESTES, GIARDINO, KELLOGG & VIETH, MEDICAL, LEGAL, & SOCIAL SCIENCE ASPECTS OF CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION 529, 574 (2005). 14 See generally, Vincent J. Felitti & Robert F. Anda, The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Medical Disease, Psychiatric Disorders and Sexual Behavior: Implications for Healthcare, in LANIUS, ET AL, THE IMPACT OF EARLY LIFE TRAUMA ON HEALTH AND DISEASE: THE HIDDEN EPIDEMIC (CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 2010). 15 Id. 16 TIMOTHY D. LYTTON, HOLDING BISHOPS ACCOUNTABLE: HOW LAWSUITS HELPED THE CATHOLIC CHURCH CONFRONT CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE 69 (HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS 2008). 17 AMERICAN PROSECUTORS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF CHILD ABUSE THIRD EDITION 42-43 (2004).
the information collected is typically accurate.18 However, this research also finds that note taking fails to document as much as 25% of the information provided.19 Accordingly, GRACE balanced the likelihood that our note taking may not record all of the information provided with the likelihood that recording the interviews or using a court reporter would likely preclude critical witnesses from sharing relevant information. To reduce the risk that some important information may not have been documented by the team member designated to take notes, GRACE made every effort to provide each witness who spoke with the GRACE team a copy of these notes with a request that they be carefully reviewed for accuracy. The witnesses were encouraged to add, change, or delete anything from the interview notes that they believed made them more accurate. The GRACE team only used notes approved by each witness as evidence in this investigation. One of the reasons we did this was to provide each witness with the "final word" on the content of their interview notes. Thus, if any witness believed we had not included something believed to be relevant, they were able to make sure we had this information before completing our report.. As discussed below, we believe this approach has been largely effective. It should also be pointed out that, prior to any interview being conducted in this investigation, ABWE expressed concerns certain potential witnesses had about note taking of the interviews.20 At that time, GRACE informed ABWE of the above described process regarding the interview notes. 21 GRACE also expressed that we were amenable to having a court reporter for witnesses who made such a request provided ABWE would reimburse this expense.22 ABWE did not specifically respond to this proposal and subsequently objected to reimbursing GRACE for one of the two interviews in which a stenographer was utilized. 3. GRACE has provided to interviewees incomplete and inaccurate transcriptions of their interviews. GRACE has interviewed approximately 100 witnesses in this case and none of these interviews have been turned over to ABWE. Accordingly, ABWE’s claim of “inaccurate transcriptions” is based upon interactions with an unspecified number of witnesses. ABWE does not have any direct knowledge as to the vast majority of interviews that were conducted or the accuracy with which the information was collected. As stated previously, every witness was provided a copy of our interview notes and given complete freedom to add, delete or otherwise modify their interview notes. Eighty-two percent of these witnesses made no changes to their statements as collected by GRACE—strongly
Michael E. Lamb, et al, Accuracy of Investigators’ Verbatim Notes of their Forensic Interviews with Alleged Child Abuse Victims, 24 LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR 699-708 (2000). 19 Id. 20 E-mail from Don Davis, ABWE corporate counsel to GRACE, July 8, 2011 21 GRACE e-mail to Don Davis, July 11, 2011 22 Id.
suggesting our accuracy. Most of the changes made were minor or simply additional information the witness believed important to share with GRACE. Ironically, ABWE ignores the fact than in following this interview note review process, GRACE was taking steps to minimize the opportunity for inaccurate information finding its way into the final report. Stated differently, ABWE is concerned that inaccurate information was collected,23 whereas GRACE’s primary objective was to make sure no inaccurate information was used in our findings of fact. Furthermore, pursuant to our engagement agreement with ABWE, GRACE agreed to provide its report to ABWE five days before its public release for the purpose of providing ABWE the opportunity to identify and communicate to GRACE any alleged factual errors. Although all parties are entitled to their own analysis or opinion, no one is entitled to their own facts. Accordingly, GRACE has been, and remains willing to correct any identified factual errors. 4. GRACE has asked clearly leading questions to interviewees, demonstrating what appears to be a strong bias in one direction. Since ABWE does not define what it means by a leading question or provide any example, we find this claim difficult to address. Accordingly, we can simply state that the vast majority of questions posed by the GRACE team were open ended as documented by the narratives provided by the witnesses. This is not to say we did not ask some direct or focused questions when appropriate. The NDAA manual recognizes the occasional need for direct and focused, or even “leading questions” of alleged child abuse victims during an investigation24 and even at trial.25 Of course, leading questions are also used with adult witnesses, particularly those suspected of wrongdoing or who are unreceptive to the investigators. Generally speaking, investigators often ask open-ended questions to secure the statement of a witness and direct and focused questions when confronting a witness with documents or other evidence that contradicts their account of
No method of documenting statements is without the potential for error. For example, as mentioned above GRACE used a court reporter in taking the statements of two witnesses. In each case, these witnesses made significant corrections or revisions to the court reporter transcription. Even if there was a recording, there can be technical failures or the inability of the recording equipment to detect whispers or soft statements. Even in the absence of technical difficulties, there may be corrections to the final product with witnesses clarifying or adding to their recorded statements. Indeed, this is one reason some investigators contend recordings can be misleading.23 Again, GRACE’s primary intent was to collect any information witnesses believed was important and to make sure we collected that accurately.
According to the NDAA manual “leading questions are discouraged but sometimes unavoidable if the interviewer is going to learn the full scope of what happened to the child.” AMERICAN PROSECUTORS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF CHILD ABUSE THIRD EDITION 50(2004). 25 The NDAA manual notes “Courts generally permit leading questions with a child witness who may have difficulty communicating details of a sexual assault or may be reluctant to testify.” AMERICAN PROSECUTORS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF CHILD ABUSE THIRD EDITION 535 (2004).
events.26 Accordingly, ABWE’s apparent contention that any leading question undermines the investigation contradicts basic investigation standards. 5. GRACE added and/or cut out important information, including any favorable information about ABWE, letting the transcript misrepresent facts and not reflecting appropriately what the interviewees stated. This statement is patently false and easily refuted by the evidence collected. It is also contradicted by common sense. If GRACE were going to cut and paste what to put in the interviewee’s statements, there would be no reason to provide each statement to the witnesses, allow them to change their statements as they see fit, and only use the contents of the statements reviewed and approved by the witnesses. It is also important to note that any number of witnesses may have shared positive or negative experiences about ABWE that are irrelevant to the scope of this investigation, though such disclosures may be relevant in evaluating a particular witness’ bias. Pursuant to our engagement agreement with ABWE, we are to investigate allegations of sexual abuse committed by ABWE missionary Donn Ketcham and ABWE’s handling of these allegations over the years. Witnesses may have shared information outside these parameters that was simply irrelevant and didn’t need to be documented. Nonetheless, even in these cases, we allowed each witness to determine the contents of their final statement. 6. GRACE has confronted some interviewees with blatant and intimidating statements and suggestions, rather than questions, during the interviews. Again, ABWE provides no specifics for this allegation except to claim an unspecified number of witnesses perceive GRACE is biased or has an “agenda.” In the absence of specifics, GRACE is unable to respond directly. However, GRACE states categorically that our investigation was fair, balanced and thorough. If ABWE had allowed GRACE to complete its work, we believe this would have been obvious to everyone who read our final report. Having said this, we do not dispute some witnesses are upset with GRACE. Everyone who has ever investigated or prosecuted child abuse cases knows that many people will be upset with the investigator during the course of the investigation. In this case, GRACE is aware of several key witnesses previously employed or engaged with ABWE who have been uncooperative and have declined to answer even written questions, claiming GRACE is biased. In the course of the investigation, GRACE also encountered witnesses who were strongly supportive of Donn Ketcham or ABWE and expressed concern that we asked direct and focused questions. Again, none of this is unusual in a child abuse investigation, or an investigation of a religious institution that has strong allegiances. ABWE also asserts GRACE encouraged victims to seek monetary damages or file lawsuits against ABWE. Again, no specific facts for this allegation are provided and thus it is difficult for
Id. at 126-127.
GRACE to respond. It is important to note that, throughout this investigation, ABWE has been represented by counsel. GRACE has also been represented by counsel to assist us with this process. Many of the key witnesses previously employed or engaged by ABWE are also represented by counsel. In some instances, witnesses we interviewed did so only in the presence of their counsel. In other words, it appears that everyone in this case was represented by counsel except those who alleged abuse or who simply recounted their experiences. Accordingly, a few witnesses did query GRACE about whether they should also have an attorney. In each instance, we advised them that GRACE was not their counsel and could not make that decision for them. The mere fact a witness may have asked about obtaining counsel does not mean they are contemplating litigation against ABWE. It may simply be a desire to understand legal terms or processes, or to protect their statements or other information from improper use. Although it is certainly true that failure to properly handle child sexual abuse cases is the number one reason churches end up in court,27 most victims of child abuse do not want to sue the institutions that employed child molesters or engaged in covering up offenses. Instead, victims typically want genuine repentance and reform in these institutions.28 7. GRACE has refused to use any standard of evidence (such as preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing as adopted by ABWE) in which to apply the facts to reach its conclusions. Every finding GRACE makes is supported by evidence, often times significant evidence, and our analysis would clearly detail how our conclusions were reached. The problem with ABWE’s insistence on a “standard of evidence” is that the standards they propose or use are legal standards applied in courts of law where witnesses are under oath, subjected to perjury charges for failing to be truthful, and where all parties are represented by counsel, subjected to crossexamination, and have subpoena and other powers. Since this is not a legal proceeding but rather an independent investigation, the standard that should apply is the standard investigators use in evaluating evidence collected. This includes the detail provided by a witness, the consistency of the witness’ statements, the motive of the witness to fabricate, the existence of corroborating evidence, incriminating statements or actions by the accused, etc. In child abuse cases, other factors come into play including whether or not the child has physical or mental health
Richard Hammer, The Top Five Reasons Churches go to Court, 8(1) THE CHRISTIAN LAWYER (WINTER 2012). Kelly Clark, Institutional Child Sexual Abuse—Not Just a Catholic Thing, 36(1) WILLIAM MITCHEL LAW REVIEW 220 (2009) (contending that organizations who do the right thing in fully addressing the needs of children victimized by their institution are also doing the smart thing in terms of avoiding or minimizing the risk of a lawsuit).
conditions consistent with having endured trauma.29 Investigators often use other evidence in evaluating a case that is not generally admissible in court including polygraph examinations.30 Moreover, it is critical to keep in mind that this investigation is not simply about Donn Ketcham’s alleged acts of sexual abuse. Although there remains an issue as to how many children Donn Ketcham sexually victimized, there is no dispute he molested at least one child. Indeed, he confessed to this conduct and ABWE dismissed him for it. The broader issue is how ABWE responded to this allegation. In other words, who at ABWE had knowledge about Ketcham’s conduct and what actions, appropriate or inappropriate, were taken by ABWE? The response by ABWE to the abuse perpetrated by Donn Ketcham was one of the primary issues that we were asked to investigate. In this context, our investigation was more akin to the investigation conducted by Louis Freeh and his team of the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University. It is interesting to note that the Freeh report does not list a “standard of evidence” for their investigation. 31 By rigidly insisting on a court standard, as opposed to an investigative standard for making findings, ABWE is purposely or unwittingly insulating itself from clear findings of sexual abuse or other wrongdoing in those cases that were not timely or thoroughly investigated by ABWE. This is because the longer an institution waits to fully assess a case of abuse, the greater the likelihood that witnesses become unavailable, have imperfect memories, and critical corroborating evidence is lost. Having said this, ABWE should not assume there is an absence of compelling evidence in this case, evidence that would withstand even strict legal standards of proof. 8. GRACE’s wrong investigative tactics and flaws have led victims and other witnesses to withdraw from the investigation. The only evidence offered in support of these broad statements is an anonymous quote from an alleged victim that his/her interview was not recorded and that he or she felt uncomfortable about the “incomplete nature of the notes.” Again, the very reason all witnesses were given copies of the interview notes was to make sure they were complete and GRACE agreed to use only the final notes reviewed by the witnesses.
See generally, Vincent J. Felitti & Robert F. Anda, The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Medical Disease, Psychiatric Disorders and Sexual Behavior: Implications for Healthcare, in LANIUS, ET AL, THE IMPACT OF EARLY LIFE TRAUMA ON HEALTH AND DISEASE: THE HIDDEN EPIDEMIC (CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 2010). 30 AMERICAN PROSECUTORS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF CHILD ABUSE THIRD EDITION 88-89 (2004). 31 Report of the Special Investigative Counsel Regarding the Actions of The Pennsylvania State University Related to the Child Sexual Abuse Committed by Gerald A. Sandusky, available online at: http://progress.psu.edu/assets/content/REPORT_FINAL_071212.pdf (last viewed February 8, 2013)
Although we are not challenging ABWE’s claim that a witness did not like the original notes provided, there is no plausible argument that GRACE in any way harassed or intimidated witnesses. In fact, this claim is strongly rebutted by the fact that each witness had final control over their statements. The GRACE team is confident that the vast majority of the witnesses interviewed would challenge an assertion that we treated them unfairly. Indeed, a number of these witnesses have already expressed their thoughts in social media. Obviously, GRACE is not seeking to win a popularity contest or to prove that our work was supported by most of those we encountered in this investigation. We are simply saying that our work met or exceeded acceptable standards for conducting an independent investigation and that this would have been obvious if ABWE had not stopped this process and allowed our final report to be completed and delivered. As one example of our balance, we repeatedly asked both the MKs and ABWE if they had suggestions of witnesses they would like our team to interview. We made this request both orally and in writing. For example, in an e-mail to ABWE dated May 7, 2012, we summarized our conversation that afternoon and noted we “also discussed the importance of ABWE providing GRACE with a list of persons that it believes may have some knowledge regarding the issues related to Donn Ketcham who should be interviewed. As mentioned during the call, I want to make sure that nobody is overlooked, especially those individuals whom you believe could provide relevant information to us. The sooner we can receive that list, the sooner we can begin scheduling interviews.”32 The following month, on June 12, 2012, we provided ABWE a list of individuals GRACE had compiled who we believed had some connection to ABWE during the time Donn Ketcham was on the field in Bangladesh. We asked ABWE to review the list and highlight anyone who may have relevant information and we promised to make a “concerted effort” to interview anyone ABWE believed we should speak to. In making this request, we explained: Our objective is to speak with as many persons as possible who may have knowledge regarding the issues that we are investigating. Furthermore, we also believe it is critical to provide both ABWE and the MKs with an opportunity to identify specific individuals that each of you would like interviewed that we may or may not have already contacted.33 As of this writing, ABWE has never provided GRACE with the name of a single witness it believed we should interview. ABWE’s failure to provide us with the names of
E-mail to Al Cockrell dated May 7, 2012. ABWE never provided GRACE with this requested list. GRACE e-mail dated June 13, 2012 to, among others, Al Cockrell. ABWE never returned this list with any highlighted names.
witnesses is one of the many obstacles GRACE faced in this case. As you know, ABWE also repeatedly failed to provide critical documents in a timely matter, if at all. As one example, we sent ABWE an e-mail dated November 3, 20ll, which followed up on a phone conversation on October 20, 2011. In that correspondence, we reiterated the importance of ABWE’s assistance in obtaining documents critical to the investigation. In pertinent part, we wrote: We also discussed the need to resend new medical releases to the MKs, which will allow the materials to be sent directly to GRACE from Bangladesh. GRACE suggested that we could do this upon your providing us the names of those who received the original waivers. You indicated that you would let us know which ones had been returned to sender so that we could try and locate a valid address. To date, we have not received those names in order to get these waivers sent out as soon as possible. An integral aspect of our investigation is to review these medical records to determine if there is any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Dr. Ketchum as it relates to the performance of his physician responsibilities. We would greatly appreciate if you could provide us with the names within the next week. In that same e-mail, we wrote: One of the last issues of (sic) discussed was a follow up on the documents we have requested from ABWE since June. We raised this issue during our September meeting and were assured that these materials would be provided. On October 10th, we provided a specific update as to what requested documents remained outstanding, along with an additional request. During our phone conference on October 20th, you indicated that you had been out of town, but were going to immediately work to provide us with this critical documentation. Again, the requested documentation is hugely critical to this investigation for numerous and varying reasons. We would greatly appreciate if you could let us know immediately when GRACE can expect receipt of these materials. Thanks. As you know, there are many more e-mails and letters to you, to your attorneys, and to others at ABWE repeatedly requesting critical documents. On more than one occasion, GRACE provided ABWE with detailed lists of documents received, not received or that were incomplete.34 As of this writing, GRACE is still missing documents or other information requested. Not only is this failure a material breach of our contract, it has unnecessarily delayed the investigation. When we began this investigation, we told ABWE we anticipated the process would take approximately 18 months. The investigation has taken longer in no small part to ABWE’s failure to provide documents for months at a time, if at all.
See e.g., e-mail to ABWE officials dated October 10, 2011; GRACE e-mail to ABWE dated May 8, 2012.
These repeated breaches gave GRACE grounds for terminating our investigation. These breaches prompted us to inquire on more than one occasion whether ABWE really wanted to complete this process. Each time we were assured that you did.35 Despite the obstacles ABWE has repeatedly placed in the way of this investigation, GRACE has persisted in completing this work because so many are dependent on it. As noted at the beginning of this letter, many of these MKs and their families have waited more than 10 years for ABWE to conduct a complete, and fair investigation into the Ketcham matter, as well as ABWE’s handling of the case. Accordingly, we were prepared to issue a final report based on the findings of this investigation and had recently informed you that the report would be delivered no later than the end of March. We regret that will never happen, and we fear that those whose lives have been sheared by their experiences on the field in Bangladesh may never know a true sense of relief from their pain this side of heaven. Throughout the course of this investigation, GRACE has communicated to ABWE that a Gospel centered response to abuse requires transparency and vulnerability - God did His most powerful work when His son was transparent and vulnerable. As Christians, all of us long to see the face of our Savior, to hold Him, and to walk with Him again in the Garden. In a very real sense, though, we see Him every day. Indeed, Jesus promised to separate the sheep from the goats based on how we reacted when in His presence. Jesus explained this with the following parable: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance…For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply ‘I tell you the truth whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. 36 In Christ’s words we have clear direction from our Lord to care for those in need. Surely this directive extends to caring for abused children. Jesus gave grave warnings to those
Such an assurance was made as late as January 14th during your lunch with Mr. Tchividjian in Lynchburg, Virginia. 36 Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV)
who harm little ones, saying the angels of children have direct access to his Father and it is better to be thrown in the sea with a millstone around the neck than to hurt a child.37 In light of these truths, the children abused and silenced in Bangladesh, as well as the families shattered by these experiences, represent the face of Jesus to us. Our response to them and their long held anguish says much about our obedience to these words. On behalf of the GRACE team, it is our fervent prayer that ABWE will meet the needs of these survivors without delay and that one day soon, we will hear the Savior’s voice as He says “I saw you in Bangladesh.” In Christ,
Basyle J. Tchividjian
Basyle J. Tchividjian Executive Director GRACE
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