The Master’s University, The Master’s Seminary, Grace Community Church, John MacArthur, Sexual Assault, Sexual Abuse, Jane’s Story, #DoYouSeeUs
Introducing the Account of Master’s University Student “Jane” Being Raped
Earlier this week (September 18), blogger Marci Preheim shared the story of Jane (pseudonym), a Master’s University student who was drugged, then raped. The horrific story of what happened and how she was treated afterward is entitled, Do You See Me? This incident occurred in 2006, 11 years ago.
Of course, this has created quite an uproar in social media, so much so, that statements from Pastor John MacArthur’s church and schools were posted on the Facebook pages of Grace Community Church (GCC), The Master’s University (TMU), and The Master’s Seminary (TMS). John MacArthur is the pastor of Grace Community Church, and founder and president of both The Master’s University and The Master’s Seminary.
Here is the statement posted on these Facebook pages:
The ministries of Grace Community Church and The Master’s University and Seminary have been informed of the blog article posted on September 18 by a Ms. Marci Preheim on behalf of an undisclosed individual. Although there are both evidentiary and biblical limitations in dealing with anonymous accusations, we take all claims of misconduct very seriously. According to our initial internal inquiry and review of the available records, we believe the blog article is plainly incorrect, a reality that we have verified with the police report on record. In addition to the various inaccuracies in the posted narrative, the male student that was accused in the official report was never a student at either The Master’s University or Seminary. In our view, anyone who would post such accusations without first verifying them has committed an unconscionable act of defamation, and anyone who would spread such misinformation is equally culpable in that irresponsibility. Should the undisclosed individual or any other person who has direct, firsthand knowledge of this matter wish to address this issue with us, we would request that they contact Kent Haney at The Master’s University who is overseeing the internal review of these allegations. Source
I have issues with the statement, but in the interest of time, I will let others who posted responses on the Facebook pages of TMU, GCC, and TMS have the floor. By the way, the following comments are no longer there. The powers that be decided they did not like these comments and removed them. Why would they remove and squelch the voices of people who are responding with their full identities? At this blog, aptly named, Spiritual Sounding Board, I believe that all Christians should have an equal voice, regardless of their status within their churches or schools.
No one from TMU, TMS, or GCC responded to any comments.
One concern that I take very seriously is the one of defamation/slander and harming innocent people. Mike Riccardi, the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, wrote a blog post, How to Kill Your Neighbor, which discusses slander and the harm it can cause. I agreed with a lot of it …
Scripture couldn’t be clearer. Proverbs 11:9 says, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.” Two verses later, we’re told that entire cities are torn down by the mouth of the wicked (Prov 11:11). One verse after that, the man of understanding who keeps silent is contrasted with the one who despises his neighbor, and, lacking sense, ostensibly doesn’t keep silent (Prov 11:12). And then Proverbs 12:6 personifies wicked words by styling them as premeditating murderers: “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood.” Such quotations could be multiplied.
Earlier in that post, Pastor Riccardi discusses how society elevates celebrity victims:
In our climate of perpetual offendedness where our most celebrated heroes seem to be those who have projected themselves as victims, combined with the lack of accountability and reputability that social media affords one attempting to spread information, any quasi-plausible accusation—no matter how outrageous its content, no matter how reputable its victim—is regarded as true until proven false. And that means that the one accused in the matter is guilty until proven innocent.
… however, this conclusion seems one sided.
It’s interesting that this article came out September 22, at the height of Jane’s story making the rounds in social media. Let’s just pretend that his article was penned as a result of Jane’s story or any other story like hers. I have a couple of thoughts:
- With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor. The word “godless” is very important. We have to be very careful about accusations and calling accusers “godless.” Maybe God called the accuser to bring light to the cover-up and poor response. Let’s not be so quick to label an accuser as godless, in order to defend the actions of people in an institution just because you respect the institution.
- If someone is reporting a heinous crime, we should believe them, show compassion, but also investigate. The first response should not be to dismiss the accusation and attack the victim, as we see in the statement.
- The reputation of leaders should never take precedence over investigating the possibility of evil or sin in the camp.
- When leaders post about the sin of slander immediately after their reputation is on the line with a specific public accusation, what it really says is “don’t believe it; it’s untrue.” It does not allow for discussion or further investigation.
- This article diminishes the possibility that there could be sin in their own camp. It places little to no responsibility on leaders’ part for self-reflection.
- It’s one-sided, and blames the accuser.
- If the accusations are true, it is not slander (if spoken), libel (if written). Before labeling accusations as slander or libel, a prudent person would check to see if there is any truth in them.
Ok, enough about Pastor Riccardi’s post. Let’s move on and take a look at a few more screen shots taken from the Facebook pages. Note that these are people who left their names and personal stories that seem to match the story of Jane, as far as the response of TMU when she reported her being raped.
The point is: Jane’s response from TMU is not isolated.
Folks, there are more than two or three witness who are voicing the same concerns. How many more are needed before they are taken seriously?
And then there was this comment, which in my opinion seemed to be a reasonable suggestion in light of the many personal testimonies of harm done in other cases. Take note, Mr. Swanson spent 25 years there. He put his reputation on the line as one taking the “slanderers'” accounts seriously, after all, the Bible does talk about love and believing people, doesn’t it?
But look at this surprising response from Jesse Johnson (Dean of The Master’s Seminary in Washington, D.C.) regarding Mr. Swanson’s suggestion to be transparent with records. If TMU is innocent, they should have no problem with this suggestion.
Frankly, I was taken aback at the tone Pastor Johnson used with Mr. Swanson, someone senior to him. Let’s make no mistake about it, Pastor Johnson is attempting to squelch Mr. Swanson’s voice. We need to ask why. What harm is done with an independent investigation? Does TMU really care about these concerns?
Questions About Responses to Cases of Assault and Abuse, in Light of TMU’s Mission Statement
I have spoken with Jane a couple of times, and we have also exchanged texts. I found Jane to be believable. One thing she has made very clear to me is this: This is not about her story, even though she detailed her account publicly. She publicized her story to draw attention to how she was treated by leaders at The Master’s University. She is not suing anyone. This story came out 11 years after the incident. That should tell you something. This should not be a fact-finding mission about Jane. This is about challenging TMU, TMS, and GCC to respond to how they handle assault and abuse cases.
Before we move on, I wanted to highlight part of The Master’s University’s ,Mission Statement. Notice moral integrity. TMU wants to empower students with moral integrity.
The mission of The Master’s University is to empower students for a life of enduring commitment to Christ, biblical fidelity, moral integrity, intellectual growth and lasting contribution to the Kingdom of God worldwide.
A little farther down the page, moral integrity is described in more detail:
Moral Integrity, as evidenced by:
- The nurturing of holiness through self-examination
- Stewardship of time, abilities and resources
- A lifetime of wholesomeness and moderation that regards the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit
- The practice of honesty, courtesy and civility toward all persons
- The practice of biblically confronting and restoring sinners
When reading that, I wondered if TMU practiced these “evidences” as they dealt with Jane when she reported the crime committed against her? Furthermore, was she believed, respected, cared for as a Shepherd cares for a wounded sheep? Or was she battered further, told to repent of her sins, told to meet with her rapist? By the way, who does that? Who in their right mind would force a rape victim to meet with her rapist?
Interestingly, I saw this quote from John MacArthur:
“Jesus has an unequaled capacity for sympathizing with us in every danger, trial, or situation that comes our way, because he’s been through it all.”
If we are to be Christlike, then shouldn’t we be sympathizing with those who have experienced danger … or rape? That is not what we see from Jane’s account at all.
This is not about defending an institution, trying to make sure all facts are exactly perfect. For crying out loud, this woman was drugged and raped AND it is 11 years later. We should expect some minor discrepancies. This is about how women are treated and how reports of sexual assault and abuse are handled. This is about caring for the flock under your oversight, not trampling over them with accusations of sin, forcing them to be in the same room and look at the person who physically, emotionally, and spiritually traumatized them.
BREAKING NEWS 09/21/2017:
Confirmation for Details from Jane’s Account About the Aftermath of the Rape
Last night (September 21), I received a message from someone who claimed she was there when Jane got back to the dorm after being drugged and raped. She said she heard Jane crying and comforted her. When I told Jane about this witness, she was unfamiliar with her name. That had me concerned for a second. Then I texted her picture, and it all came back to her (Jane). Jane remembered bawling with this “stranger,” still feeling drugged.
With this person’s permission, I am posting the screenshots of the pertinent parts of our text conversation.
Note: This witness got Jane’s first name correct, but last name wrong (which is why I did not blot out the last name). Later, in the conversation, the witness recalled Jane’s last name. She also said later in the conversation that she was unclear if it was spring break or Outreach week, but she remembered that most students were not there.
In conclusion, this is what we know:
- TMU acknowledges an incident occurred with Jane.
- There was a police report filed.
- At this point, the discussion does not pertain to whether or not a rape occurred.
- The discussion is about the response by TMU to this rape claim.
Jane told me she would like the focus to be on how churches/Christian leaders respond to claims of sexual assault and abuse, not focus on her. There are many (I posted only a few) who have reported that they have received similar treatment from leaders at TMU.
When reasonable requests are made for TMU to take a look at how they respond to sexual assault and abuse claims, we see leaders shut down the conversation, blame the victim, remove posts. Something is wrong with this picture. It’s time to look more closely at how leaders deal with sexual assault and abuse claims and be transparent. Victims should not be scared into silence, nor should they be told to repent and meet with whoever assaulted/abused them.
Additional posts may be listed here without a notice of updating.
The Stones Will Cry Out: A Commentary on Sexual Abuse in the Evangelical Church (by Sarah Taras and Marci Preheim; March 6, 2016).
Do You See Me? (by Marci Preheim; September 18, 2017).
Believing Jane: Reflections on a Rape and it’s Cover-Up at The Master’s College & Seminary (by Hannah; September 20, 2017).
How Evangelical Ideas About Forgiveness Failed This Rape Survivor (by Libby Anne; September 20, 2017).
Jane and the Masters [sic] University Rape Scandal (September 21, 2017).
Regarding Jane (by Marci Preheim; September 25, 2017).
Jane’s Story and How The Leaders Failed Her (by Becky Castle Miller; September 25, 2017).