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[PCUSANEWS] Abuse review panel seeks an additional member
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Wed, 8 Nov 2006 12:42:50 -0500
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06573November 8, 2006
Abuse review panel seeks an additional member
Highly-praised video is now widely available
by Jerry Van Marter
LOUISVILLE - An additional member is being sought for apanel created in 2004 to investigate allegations of physicaland/or sexual abuse at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) overseasboarding schools for the children of missionaries.
The four-member Independent Abuse Review Panel (IARP) isseeking a replacement for Nancy Poling of Evanston, IL, adevelopmental educator who resigned for personal reasons.
The other three member of the panel are the Rev. JamesEvinger of Rochester, NY, a clinical researcher at theUniversity of Rochester Medical Center who specializes inclergy sexual abuse; Dr. Sarah Rieth of Charlotte, NC, anEpiscopal priest and psychotherapist who specializes in thespiritual healing of adult survivors of sexual abuse; andDr. Carolyn Winfield, a former social worker who now worksin the field of child welfare policy development.
The IARP grew out of a case of physical and sexual abuseof more than 20 children at a Presbyterian boarding schoolfor children of missionaries in Congo from the 1940s to the1970s. The perpetrator, the Rev. Bill Pruitt, died in August1999 before he could be brought to trial by Grace Presbyteryin Texas.
Included in a package of reforms adopted by the PC(USA) inthe wake of the Pruitt revelations was the creation of theIARP to investigate other allegations that grew out of thePruitt case.
As of September 2006, the panel has received reports ofabuse - involving 11 children of missionaries - at eightother schools or dormitories:
Chiang Mai International School, Thailand
Good Shepherd School, Ethiopia
Merida School, Mexico
Methodist-Presbyterian Hostel for students at The AmericanSchool of Kinshasa, Congo
Murree Christian School, Pakistan
Ononobeta dormitory at Hope School, Cameroon
Sakeji School, Zambia
Schultz School, Egypt
The panel has had face-to-face interviews with fivesurvivors, three parents, and two individuals on behalf of afamily member, according to Pat Hendrix, the PC(USA)'ssexual abuse ombudsperson.
One challenge the IARP faces, Hendrix says, is that "mostformer missionaries and their children do not even know thepanel exists."
To accomplish three goals - getting the word out about thepanel's existence, to educate survivors, their families andthe missionary community about the long-term effects ofabuse, and to offer survivors and their loved ones hope forhealing - the panel has produced a DVD (also available inVHS) entitled "Witnesses to Truth, Witnesses to Healing:Investigating Child Abuse in Missionary Settings."
Hendrix quotes one Congo survivor's response to the video:"What a wonderful gift to all of us [survivors] and to themission community. God has been faithful through it all andI'm so grateful. Through this [investigation] process I haveseen girls who were so bitter and angry with God and thechurch come full circle and once again walk with the Lord.That is the best gift of all."
To explore service on the IARP and/or obtain a copy of"Witnesses to Truth, Witnesses to Healing: Investing ChildAbuse in Missionary Settings," contact Pat Hendrix by phonetoll-free at 1 (888) 728-7228, ext. 5285; or by email at PatHendrix.
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