THOROUGH & OBJECTIVE
Seeking the Truth
When individuals step forward to disclose being abused by a leader, volunteer, or anyone else within a faith community (church, school, or religious organization), it is critical that we properly respond in a manner that protects and respects reported victims, pursues truth and justice, and provides a credible process that is consistent with ministry integrity. Independent investigations are the primary way of legitimately addressing allegations of past abuse, while also investigating and assessing the organization’s knowledge of the abuse and if and how it responded to it.
Before a church
can move forward,
it must address
– Boz Tchividjian
It is important to note that independent investigations never take the place of criminal investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies. Criminal investigations focus on allegations of criminal conduct perpetrated by individuals and oftentimes result in the prosecution of those offenses. Any and all allegations of criminal conduct should be immediately reported to the governing authorities. The independent investigations conducted by GRACE not only focus on individual conduct, but also on the conduct of the organization. These investigations are especially recommended when the conduct of the organizational leadership is at issue and/or when law enforcement decides that it is not authorized to investigate the abuse disclosure because the statute of limitations has expired.
The personal impact of abuse on individuals and families is devastating, and even well-meaning churches and ministry organizations can stumble in the wake of abuse disclosures. Responding to abuse disclosures within faith communities is never simple and almost always requires the organization to seek independent expert assistance that will minimize any concerns regarding potential conflicts of interest and institutional self-protection. For example, What if the alleged perpetrator is a trusted member of the staff? What if the abuse happened decades ago and staff members are accused of not properly reporting the abuse to law enforcement authorities? Most importantly, how does the institution respond with genuine compassion and humility when it is accused of wrongdoing.
If a thorough investigation by law enforcement isn’t legally possible, it can be difficult to ascertain facts and determine next steps, which makes an objective, independent third-party investigation crucial for regaining trust with victims and within the faith community. GRACE’s team has extensive professional experience interviewing victims of abuse, perpetrators of abuse, and witnesses with relevant testimony. Our desire is to get to the truth of the matter so that compassion and assistance can be demonstrated to those who have been hurt and the institutional leaders can be equipped to make the necessary organizational changes that will create a safer community for the vulnerable and a less safe community for those who abuse.
GRACE’s investigative section includes multiple former abuse prosecutors as well as law enforcement with expertise in abuse and trauma. Each investigation will get a hand-picked team for maximum relevancy and effectiveness in finding the truth. If needed, the GRACE investigative team will include a multi-disciplined team of experts such as clergy and/or psychologists with expertise in the areas of trauma and abuse. Investigations are conducted based upon GRACE approved safeguarding best practice standards.
To learn more about the Independent Investigative services offered by GRACE,
please feel free to download this Frequently Asked Questions Fact Sheet.
ARE YOU A LEADER OF AN INSTITUTION
AND WOULD LIKE OUR GRACE TEAM TO CONTACT YOU?
Independent Investigations are conducted based upon GRACE-approved
safeguarding best practice standards and do not replace law enforcement.
If the abuse disclosures fall outside the jurisdiction of local law enforcement agencies because of statutes of limitations,
foreign soil issues, or other limitations of the law, an Independent Investigation by GRACE may be recommended.