Chitwood to continue IMB abuse & harassment study
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Newly-elected International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood has promised to continue an independent study of "IMB's handling of past allegations of abuse and sexual harassment and IMB's present policies and practices," according to an IMB news release today (Dec. 12).
Chitwood's promise to continue the study, launched under former IMB President David Platt, comes amid Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear's ongoing Sexual Abuse Advisory Study in partnership with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The promise also coincides with ongoing legal proceedings in a Texas sexual assault case involving allegations against former IMB missionary Mark Aderholt.
After Platt announced the examination in July 2018, IMB trustee officers selected the Minnesota-based law firm of Gray Plant Mooty to conduct the work. According to the IMB release, trustee officers are overseeing the study and will report to the full board when it is complete.
"It is clear to me, in being briefed on this sensitive issue, that the trustee officers are navigating this vitally important task with the highest integrity," Chitwood said. "I, along with the trustees, am unwavering in my commitment to lead this entity in a way we can ensure provides a safe and healthy place for people to work and, in the case of our international missionaries, a safe place to live and grow as they, their families and their ministry partners work to share the Gospel."
See the full text of IMB's release below.
Chitwood affirms commitment to IMB examination
By IMB Staff
"This is tremendously important work," Chitwood said. "Under my leadership, in partnership with our trustee board, IMB remains fully committed to following through on its promise of a thorough, independent examination."
In late July 2018, then-president David Platt announced the commencement of "a thorough, outside, independent examination of IMB's handling of past actions" in abuse and harassment cases. Platt said the examination would also review "IMB's present policies and practices to ensure that our current commitment to zero tolerance for child abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment is completely and consistently enforced across IMB today." After Platt's announcement, trustee officers interviewed numerous potential outside investigators for the task, and selected Gray Plant Mooty, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to conduct the examination.
"With experience conducting hundreds of investigations and policy reviews regarding issues and allegations of sexual abuse, misconduct, harassment, and similar matters for organizations across the United States, Gray Plant Mooty is highly qualified to conduct the independent examination," said Lisa Lovell, an IMB trustee officer who, along with other trustee officers, is a member of the examination task force.
"Since being selected, the outside investigators have been meticulously reviewing past actions in IMB records that involved child abuse or sexual harassment," Lovell said. "We know that such a methodical examination takes time, but we have approached this task seriously and rigorously."
Lovell said the examination task force plans to report the findings of the independent investigation to the full board of trustees when the work is completed. She said an update also will be shared with the public in a manner respectful of the highly confidential nature of the information involved following the conclusion of the examination.
"It is clear to me, in being briefed on this sensitive issue, that the trustee officers are navigating this vitally important task with the highest integrity," Chitwood said. "I, along with the trustees, am unwavering in my commitment to lead this entity in a way we can ensure provides a safe and healthy place for people to work and, in the case of our international missionaries, a safe place to live and grow as they, their families and their ministry partners work to share the gospel."
In June, IMB posted its statement on child abuse and sexual harassment online, which leadership periodically distributes directly to all field personnel and staff. As noted in the statement, if anyone has personally experienced or observed child abuse or sexual harassment among IMB personnel in the past, the task force invites that person to contact IMB through a confidential hotline at (866)-292-0181. IMB's policy is to investigate cases regardless of when they occurred.