Investigation finds Moody’s abuse reporting system ‘failed’

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Moody Bible Institute
Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois |

The management of the Moody Bible Institute released an apology statement announcing the results of a lengthy investigation into the Chicago-based evangelical institution’s protocols amid accusations it mismanaged allegations of sexual abuse.

In a statement last week, the school apologized to those who “felt a lack of empathy and follow-through” regarding the filing of Title IX reports.

“We also apologize to those whose reports were not dealt with as quickly and efficiently as they could have been,” MBI President Mark Jobe and Provost Dwight Perry said in the joint statement.

“It is the sincere desire of Moody’s leadership to provide a healthy and God-revered culture that enables our students to grow and mature in a safe and healthy environment. We are committed to doing everything in our power to create a safe environment for all of our students, staff and faculty. “

Last fall, the school asked Grand River Solutions to investigate after several people complained through a Change.org petition, expressing dismay at how allegations of sexual misconduct have turned out. been processed at Moody’s.

Specifically, the petition claimed that the directors had shown an “inability or unwillingness to act to respond” to the allegations of “harassment, discrimination, sexual assault and rape”. The petition went on to accuse officials of a pattern of “dismissal, cover-up and even disciplinary action taken against survivors of abuse, after they risked so much to come forward.”

GRS interviewed 35 members of the Moody community to “assess the effectiveness and impact of training, prevention efforts, communications, and the processes and procedures in place to respond to reports of sexual harassment.” The investigation ended in April.

In the 31-page report, GRS noted that Moody’s structure for handling complaints of sexual assault and misconduct has proven to be “unsuccessful.” The report argues that there is a culture of “pervasive mistrust” of university leaders, including those who have been tasked with handling sexual assault complaints.

“The lack of resources for the Title IX coordinator and investigator roles resulted in gaps in the performance of these roles and resulted in high rates of dissatisfaction among those in these roles, making it difficult for Moody to retain qualified and experienced candidates, ”the report mentioned.

“The ineffective partnerships between the Title IX coordinator, the Dean of Students and the Vice President of Human Resources (collectively ‘responsible administrators’) had a significant impact on the response to 16 reports, and in particular the reports that were transferred, or which should have been transferred, from one administrator to another. “

The report explains that “Moody’s current organizational structure assigns three directors to oversee different aspects of the institutional response to sexual harassment and sexual or interpersonal violence.”

The Moody Title IX Coordinator “is charged with the overall responsibility for compliance with Title IX and is responsible for coordinating the institutional response to sexual harassment and to sexual and interpersonal violence falling within the limited jurisdiction of Title IX. “

For reports of sexual harassment and misconduct that fall outside the scope of Title IX, the responsibility lies with the Dean of Students and the Vice President of Human Resources.

The GRS report indicates that there was a “stigma” associated with filing a Title IX report against someone on campus for both the person filing the report and the accused.

“This type of language reflects a decrease in the severity of the behavior a person experienced before considering a report of sexual harassment or sexual or interpersonal violence,” the report said. “Rather than focusing on the implications of a Title IX report, we hope the Moody’s community will focus on supporting and caring for those who have suffered harm and, as part of the response, to provide a process that recognizes everyone’s rights. implied.”

“When coupled with an attitude of resentment towards the perceived imposition of government regulations, the historic approach and perspective of the Title IX declaration infects the community at large,” the report added. “Students fear being stigmatized when initiating a process, and faculty and staff shy away from responsibility for reporting because reporting is part of a set of regulations that they see as undermining their deserved autonomy. This means that before anyone can seek support and care from Moody, they must overcome or pass through additional and unnecessary obstacles. ”

The report further noted that “several Moody’s faculty members are reluctant to, or have simply refused, to comply with this requirement that reports they receive be referred to the Title IX coordinator.”

“Reviewers are concerned that resistance of this type has already caused, and may continue to, cause unintended harm to complainants and the Moody community as a whole,” the report said.

The school has announced that based on the GRS recommendation, the school will implement 11 commitments that will be operational from fall 2021.

Among these commitments, the school will create “a policy regarding sexual harassment and sexual and interpersonal violence” and “a leadership structure where one person is responsible for overseeing the institutional response to all reports of sexual misconduct”. The school is also committed to providing additional resources for the Title IX office and “enhanced training”.

“We are committed to improving perceptions and building confidence in our Title IX compliance program,” Moody said.

The change.org petition from current and former students emerged last October, stating that “while many of us have found God and his calling on our lives within the walls of Moody, some of us have also faced to damage.

The petition, which has garnered more than 3,200 signatures, specifically criticized dean of student life Tim Arens and Title IX coordinator Rachel Puente for mismanaging their complaints.

Days after the petition was published, Jobe asked the students to reserve judgment on Arens and Puente while the investigation was conducted.

“Our posture at this time must be marked by a spirit of humility and action,” Jobe said at the time. “We must be on our knees in prayer, and we must listen and learn in order to live this experience as a stronger community.”

Arens has since taken early retirement and Puente has been put on administrative leave. MBI has not indicated whether Puente’s role will change in the future, according to The Roys Report.



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