Tag Archives: Media Coverage

Al-Jazeera Notes BJU’s Hypocrisy in Audio We Leaked

You can read all our coverage of the GRACE report here.

You can read the full report of BJU’s failure to properly address abuse here, and via our copy/paste-ready shortlink: tiny.cc/GRACEREPORT.

This afternoon, Al-Jazeera America posted a new article specifically noting discrepancies between the GRACE report and Steve Pettit’s response to it in the audio we leaked earlier this week:

BJU President Steve Pettit is appointing a committee to review the report over the next 90 days and he publicly apologized to those who “felt they did not receive from us genuine love, compassion, understanding, and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault.” But in a chapel service Monday, leaked to the website BJU News, he told students that the report wasn’t an accurate representation of the school today.

The piece also has quotes from several recent graduates angered by Pettit’s comments, which were intended only for BJU students and faculty but have provoked strong reactions from onlookers after a source sent them to us for publishing:

“Honestly, I’m just really saddened. It comes across like they haven’t even read the report, because the report very clearly states that this has happened recently.”

“I am a decade removed, from a chronological-time point, but from a pain point of view, that counseling still affects me today,” she said. “It was the first counseling I received. It was the only counseling I received for over seven years. For over seven years, all I thought was that I’d done something that caused my rape.”

Al-Jazeera also spoke to Boz Tchividjian, founder of GRACE and head of its BJU investigation, asking him about Pettit’s claim in our leaked audio that BJU is “very safe”:

In response to Pettit’s remarks, Boz Tchividjian, the founder of GRACE, said: “Our report speaks for itself relating to those issues.”

BJU’s PR team had no response when  Al-Jazeera reached out for comment on the story, continuing their habit of ignoring developments on the GRACE story:

 

 

 

The New York Times Reports on BJU’s Firing of GRACE

Adding to the lengthy list of already published stories on BJU’s firing of the GRACE organization, the New York Times has now published a decent-length report on the incident including interviews with alumni and students. See here:

Christian School Faulted for Halting Abuse Study

More Media Outlets Reporting on BJU’s Dismissal of G.R.A.C.E.; Here are Links To Every Article

In the 48 hours or so since BJU announced the termination of G.R.A.C.E.’s independent review of the school’s sexual abuse policies and history, a number of media outlets have reported on the incident. In the past 24 hours, the media scrutiny has intensified dramatically, resulting in a small-scale barrage of mostly negative coverage for BJU in the local and national news. As far as traffic, we’re told that WYFF’s story has been the most popular on its website since it was published. Here’s a currently-comprehensive rundown of articles relating to this week’s big news:

Washington Post: Bob Jones University fires firm hired to investigate sex abuse

NBC News: Bob Jones University Fire Firm Investigating Sexual Abuse

Christian Post: Bob Jones University Abruptly Terminates Relationship With GRACE, Led by Billy Graham’s Grandson

Christianity Today: Bob Jones University Fires GRACE as Sex Abuse Investigation Nears Completion

Greenville News: BJU fires firm reviewing school’s handling of reported sex abuse

ABP News Religious Herald: Bob Jones University halts abuse probe

WORLD Magazine Online: Bob Jones University halts investigation

Fox News Carolina: Bob Jones University ends agreement with abuse ombudsman

WSPA Greenville: Bob Jones University Terminates Contract With GRACE

WYFF Greenville: Bob Jones University fires firm investigating sexual abuse response

Sharper Iron: Bob Jones University terminates relationship with G.R.A.C.E.

Bene Diction: Bob Jones University shuts down G.R.A.C.E. investigation

Gospel News: Bob Jones University Fires GRACE as Sex Abuse Investigation Nears Completion

Patheos: Bob Jones University Breaks with GRACE, Prematurely Ending Investigation into the School’s Culture of Sexual Abuse

Update, 2/9/14:

Urban Christian News: Bob Jones University Fires GRACE Firm Responsible for Sex Abuse Investigation

Black Christian News: Bob Jones University Terminates Contract With Firm Hired to Investigate Sex Abuse Reports 1 Month Before Findings Were to Be Released

Bob Felton: BJU and G.R.A.C.E.

Inside Higher Ed: Bob Jones U. Hires Firm Hired to Investigate Abuse

Update 2/11/14:

New York Times: Christian School Faulted for Halting Abuse Study

Opposing Views: Bob Jones University Ends Contract With GRACE One Month Before Sexual Abuse Report Due Out, Raising Suspicions

Crossmap: Bob Jones University fires firm hired to investigate sex abuse

Update 2/12/14:

The Raw Story: Bob Jones University stifled sex abuse claims: ‘If you report it, you hurt the body of Christ’

The Frisky: Fundamentalist Christian College Bob Jones University Halts Study On Its Handling Of Sexual Assault

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Christian University Fires Group That Was Studying Its Sexual-Abuse Policies

Daily Kos #1: Bob Jones University helped cover up sexual abuse, fires investigative group

Daily Kos #2: Bob Jones University derails study into how it counsels sex abuse victims

American Conservative #1: Why is Bob Jones University So Nervous?

American Conservative #2: How Not to Respond to GRACE

Crooks and Lairs: Bob Jones University Shut Down Sex Claims for Decades to Save Jesus

PoliticialResearch.com: WHY DID BOB JONES UNIVERSITY TERMINATE ITS SEXUAL ABUSE INVESTIGATION?

Wonkette: Bob Jones University Has Way Of Shutting That Year-Long Sex Abuse Study Down

G.R.A.C.E. Termination Wrap-Up: Media Coverage, Alumni Response, and The Future

What began as a simple announcement last night from G.R.A.C.E. quickly escalated into another social media firestorm for BJU, as supporters and detractors of the University took to various online platforms to discuss its decision to prematurely end the independent investigation of its sexual abuse policies and history.

To summarize, here is a timeline of yesterday’s events:

At 3:38PM, G.R.A.C.E. published this post on its Facebook page. The .pdf the link contains announces that BJU has asked that G.R.A.C.E.’s investigation be terminated immediately, and describes BJU’s decision as a “complete surprise” to G.R.A.C.E. According to this announcement, G.R.A.C.E. is shocked and dismayed by the news. This post by G.R.A.C.E broke the news; neither BJU nor any other outlet had even hinted at the incident. Comments began to pour in immediately debating the decision (See links below for the comments).

At 6:27PM, as the comments began to pour in and alumni expressed frustration with the decision, current BJU President Stephen Jones began speaking out on social media to defend the school. He sent this tweet to an alumnus, accusing him/her of seekingtso “twist” the news into bad press for BJU:

Jones quickly deleted the above tweet, but also took to Facebook to attempt to quell the rising anger of supporters, see here:

Clearly, BJU wants to present this termination as merely a delay, not an ending point in its commitment to honoring the claims of victims.

At 6:56PM, BJU published this post on its Facebook page, linking to a PR blog post attempting to explain the situation. Two minutes later, the BJU Alumni Facebook page published a similar post linking to the same blog post. Comments exploded on both of these posts, especially on the main BJU page; it’s currently at well over 200 comments. BJU does not allow comments on its website, so it’s possible that the lack of ability to comment on the PR post itself is causing interested parties to be more vocal on Facebook. BJU has not made any attempt that we know of to delete any of these comments, although we have heard of people being banned from the page.

At 7:27PM, Fox Carolina picked up the story, publishing this. There are several comments on that link.

At 8:32PM, Greenville local affiliate WYFF published an article, and it’s been one of the most popular on its website since. A number of comments on that page, and many more over on WYFF’s Facebook page.

Several minutes later, NBC News picked up WYFF’s story.

A few other popular news outlets have written on the incident, including the conservative Sharper Iron (many comments there) and the more liberal-leaning Patheos (a dozen or so comment there, as of now).

Here is a .PDF file of many of the comments posted on BJU’s page. Unfortunately this only contains past comments so hit this link to see the post on FB for updated comments.

So, how do things stand now? Clearly, there’s a significant disagreement between G.R.A.C.E. and BJU as to the nature of the investigation and/or the manner in which G.R.A.C.E.’s findings should be released to the public. The disagreement seems to be on BJU’s side, primarily, considering the “complete surprise” that the termination constituted for G.R.A.C.E. and considering that their investigation was abruptly halted in the final stages of its work.

What would cause BJU to balk at G.R.A.C.E.’s methods? We can only speculate at this point, but it seems likely that G.R.A.C.E. uncovered some details of BJU’s past that the school would prefer not be made public. It’s very important to remember that according to Bob Jones III, BJU has never mishandled any case of abuse on-campus, in its entire history. Therefore, it’s possible that the tolerance the school has for actually releasing any incriminating information is very, very low. If the Chancellor’s public position is that BJU is blameless in this area, it seems logical that the school would seek to discredit any organization that tried to unearth evidence to the contrary. This despite the fact that in this case the organization in question was hired by BJU to do exactly that.

There’s a difference in the way the two organizations are reporting the news, as well. Stephen Jones and BJU are portraying the termination as a “delay,” and as part of a long series of continued negotiations. They’re also anxious to point out the other efforts they’ve made to improve the school’s policies on abuse and reporting, although those too have been tainted by controversy.

G.R.A.C.E., on the other hand, appears stunned at the halt to the investigation and claims they have been the ones trying to continue the process despite BJU’s objections. Clearly, there’s a disagreement between G.R.A.C.E. and BJU not just on the methods and scope of the investigation, but on the nature of the disagreement, particularly about whether BJU is truly willing to have the information G.R.A.C.E. has gathered be made public.

https://twitter.com/bjunews/status/431802656894758912

BJU just announced that it is holding a private meeting for students, faculty and staff today to explain this situation further. The University has said publicly several times that they will seek out a way to release G.R.A.C.E’s findings at some point, whether through them or with another third-party organization. Only time will tell.

We will continue to publish updates to this and any other stories here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Al Jazeera America Dives Deep Into BJU’s Sexual Assault Reporting Problem

Last Thursday, Al Jazeera America published a lengthy investigative report on Bob Jones University’s history of failure to report sexual assault on campus. The article centers on stories from graduates of the school who say they were raped or abused while on campus and were discouraged from contacting the police, or were simply ignored. Al Jazeera also devoted space in the article to a brief summary of the school’s history and also of the scandals that have rocked it in recent years.

The article does note BJU’s voluntary G.R.A.C.E. investigation which is still ongoing, and Randy Page, the school’s spokesperson, is frequently quoted as well. It’s hardly a takedown piece, although it doesn’t attempt to sugarcoat the obvious abuses that BJU’s top-down, authoritative structure have caused.

You can read the article here.

 

WSPA: BJU Has “Significantly Higher” Number of Forcible Sex Crimes Reported Than Any Other Area School

Citing data from the US Department of Education, WSPA Channel 7 Greenville reports today that 9 forcible sex crimes were reported at Bob Jones University in 2011, many more than were reported at other South Carolina schools–even those that dwarf BJU in size.

We’ve prepared the below table to feature the information gathered by the Channel 7 Watchdog team.

BJU spokesman Carol Kierstead gave the following statement to WSPA:

“BJU takes protection and security of our students and campus seriously. Because of the value we place on each individual, we treat each alleged incident seriously and are diligent to include each in our reports. One student was tied to the nine incidents of inappropriate behavior and the matter has been settled in the legal system.”

Of note is Kierstead’s admission that the nine incidents were perpetrated by one student–and Kierstead, amazingly, says later in the article that BJU “will allow [that student] to reapply for admission next semester.”

This news also seems to undercut Stephen Jones’s recent claim that sexual abuse scandals like those of Chucks Phelps are “old news” for the University.

Dr. Bob III also claimed from the Chapel pulpit after that scandal that no sexual abuse had ever been covered up at BJU, and that none ever would be.

[AUDIO] WMUU Sold to Salem Radio Network, Listeners Promised “A Religiously and Politically Compatible Experience”

As reported yesterday in two posts, WMUU has been sold.

The GFA/BJU-owned radio station has been sold to national radio network Salem Radio. Bob Jones III appeared on the station this afternoon and announced the sale, promising listeners that the politically and religiously conservative tone of the station would remain unchanged. Audio link is below.