SIM swings from one extreme to the other on child abuse policy.

Recently an MK contacted me to tell me about a situation that has been going on with his family and SIM USA. The story is written out in detail on the blog SIM Persecution. This is basically a story of a man who served with SIM for 25 years, suddenly being accused of child abuse by a new wife of a couple years, who I don’t believe was an SIM missionary herself. Without ever asking for this man’s side of the story, SIM tricked him into returning to the United States, reported him to authorities, forced him to sign documents (still a thing missions do, apparently), supported his wife financially and with SIM lawyers as they took him to court, and eventually fired him. They fired him after first refusing to accept his resignation.

The important thing is, in all of this he was never found guilty of child abuse by the DSS, who conducted forensic interviews with the children, his story was confirmed by a lie detector test, the police and sheriff’s office closed the case and ultimately a judge threw out all the abuse allegations and told his wife not to bring any future allegations. Yet SIM doggedly backed and supported the accusing party, even when other SIM missionaries appealed to the International Director. This is a crazy story and I urge you to read it for yourself.

Why would SIM have such a knee jerk reaction to an accusation of child abuse that they would go to those lengths without even asking the accused to tell his side of the story? Should SIM provide financial support and legal help to an accusing party, essentially taking sides in a court case? If you support SIM financially, did you imagine this might be where some of your money is going? At one point an SIM leader even testified against this man in court. Why would they dictate how often this man was allowed to see his children, and throw themselves into the middle of a child custody battle?

This is an organization that has been accused of looking the other way and ignoring abusive behaviour, and I have seen them spend many resources trying to prove that one of their missionaries was NOT guilty of abuse. They have now swung to the other extreme and cannot even seem to consider the idea that an accusation might be wrong, at the expense of a missionary and his children.

This man’s family, who wrote the blog, are pretty clear about how this situation should be rectified. The people responsible for this abuse of an SIM missionary used terrible judgment, and should step down from their positions. The former missionary should be reimbursed for his legal costs and travel expenses, and be provided with counseling.  Clearly there is something wrong with the new child abuse policy at SIM if an innocent man can be accused and victimized in this manner.

SIM has not so much as apologized to this man. When the family protests this, SIM USA leadership tells them that they will pray for them. (Does anyone else hate that response? I have nothing against prayer, but in this situation, and many others I have known, it is used in a condescending way. Oh, and by the way, it’s the only thing they are willing to do to help you.) If anyone from SIM who was involved in this, even MD, would like to give their side of the story they are welcome to do it here.

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10 thoughts on “SIM swings from one extreme to the other on child abuse policy.

  1. Pingback: Another story of Child Safety System gone wrong. | SIM Missionary Kid Survivors

  2. You may have read the article about SIM Persecution that Liz pointed out some months ago (the story of “Bill”). I myself (a SIM MK of 50+ years) have had similar events happen to my family. It started more than 2 1/2 years ago, and in the process I warned SIM that their child safety system was flawed and needed positive change. Apparently my concerns were not taken seriously, for others have now fallen victim to the same system. I have been hesitant to go public with our story for a few reasons. First of all I wanted to approach SIM (according to Matthew 18) with my concerns, in the hopes they would listen, realize their error, repent, and change. Unfortunately, SIM’s response has been legal talk and the finger has repeatedly been pointed back at my family. Secondly, I don’t want to start unnecessary fights between people who really are on the same team. Finally, our story is so bizarre that the average North American Christian would likely doubt its authenticity. Who could believe that a gospel/Christ-centered mission would continuously deny mistakes while evidence literally pours in to the contrary? With Bill’s story now public, mine perhaps becomes more plausible to the average reader.

    Before telling my story, I want to make it clear that I am not writing this to deliberately cause hurt to SIM, nor am I acting out of personal anger or bitterness. Having spent most of my life in SIM, my heart wants SIM and its members to thrive. What motivates me is knowledge from personal experience that the SIM child safety system does not meet Biblical standards, and is highly unbalanced, needing positive change so ALL innocents may be better protected. Here is what happened to us:

    In 2015 we reached out to a local family at our church in the Latin American country where we had been serving since 2000 as SIM missionaries. As we became friends, the mother confided in us that her 4 year old adopted daughter had recently been sexually abused by someone in the landlord’s family in her apartment block. Neither of us knew what to do other than listen to her, sympathize, and pray. (We later heard second hand that she had gotten free rent from that supposed incident, but we can’t verify for sure that is what happened.)

    A few months later we were shocked when this woman brought allegations of sexual abuse of her daughter against us! My husband had never been alone with the girl, and (craftily) her allegations included my teenage daughter’s and son’s cooperation in the supposed abuse while the child was being babysat by us in our home. The mother also claimed that my husband had sexually assaulted our daughter in front of hers. Though shocked by these accusations, we didn’t panic much because anyone who knew us and our kids would know that these allegations were too preposterous to be true. (We found out later that I myself was also implicated from the start by the accuser for “covering up” for my other three family members’ supposed heinous acts).

    Not knowing what to do, we notified our local SIM field director the same day we were made aware of the allegations and asked his advice. He apparently passed the information on to SIM International. A team of 3 SIM members whom we didn’t know formed an inquiry team and came to our country to look into the situation. The team included the head of SIM’s child safety department, who works out of Australia. We were glad when we heard who would be heading this team up, since we assumed this “expert” would be equipped and able to tell truth from fiction in this bizarre set of circumstances.

    The inquiry team explained to us that they were there in part to check on the safety of our children. They asked us to give names of people who could speak into the situation. We supplied them with a prioritized list of several folks who knew our family/children well. We weren’t sure if the team could get to the bottom of how or why the allegations arose, but we were confident that by talking to each of us 4 and at least a few references from our list, the team would be assured there was no such abuse in our house. (We would later find out they didn’t confer with anyone on the list!)

    Realizing that our children were old enough to be tried as adults in the country we were in (which is known to have a corrupt justice system), SIM instructed me to get our kids out ASAP (this was after they had waited several days for the team to interview all 4 of us). We were also asked to resign from the SIM field for “the mission’s protection” (we willingly signed the paperwork), but told we would still be members of SIM USA. We flew back to the USA soon after. We were shocked to be met by the FBI at the airport when we entered the USA. (We later discovered they’d been informed about the allegations and our arrival by SIM, following mission policy). The FBI searched our luggage thoroughly, interrogated my husband for over two hours, and confiscated camera equipment and our computers to examine them. (We willingly provided them passwords. All our equipment was returned a few weeks later via FedEx.)

    Subsequently, the FBI had our children come in to have forensic interviews done (by someone they said is one of the best forensic interviewers they have). After the interviews they said we had great kids and the FBI didn’t even see need for counseling.

    To return to SIM’s actions: The morning after our arrival in the USA we met with SIM administrators (some of the same ones with whom “Bill” had to deal) and received the shocking findings of the SIM inquiry team. The team had concluded not only that my husband had breached the child safety policy, but also that our own children were at “risk of serious and ongoing harm”! Although the team’s findings were not based on any actual evidence, but rather on what they called a “balance of probability,” my husband was fired on the spot from SIM USA. They did this seemingly ignoring the fact that the FBI had met us at the airport the night before and let us all go. I myself was given a few months before I would be forced out of the mission.

    Meanwhile, back in Latin America SIM provided the accusing mother with a letter apparently summarizing the SIM team’s conclusions. The accuser then used the letter to help persuade other missionaries in our field country (some of them our friends) that our family was guilty and that she had been victimized. We spoke with people who had seen the letter, and their thinking was, “The allegations must be based on truth because why would a Christian mission fire someone unless they found actual evidence?” Good question.

    SIM also passed information about the inquiry team’s conclusions to a number of our SIM colleagues on the field. The communication did not mention our names, but many people knew it was about our family because we had already disappeared from the field. SIM’s reporting to them also left out anything about allegations concerning our children, which turned it into a much more “believable” case against my husband because it left people to assume that he had worked alone in the supposed abuse. These actions on SIM’s part (and further actions later on) effectively cut us off from our SIM friends there.

    Three months after the allegations came out, fully believing that though SIM had made a mistake the mission would really seek truth and justice above all, we quietly launched an “appeal”. However, due to practices of confidentiality, SIM would not give us the data or “evidence” on which the team had based their faulty conclusions so we could answer to it. Consequently the “appeal” proved fruitless as the mission simply looked into the team’s protocol/process, rather than the actual facts of our case. SIM said that an “independent expert” in Child Safety had been engaged and had concluded that the inquiry team had followed the procedure correctly; their results were therefore considered credible, and it was deemed reasonable for my husband to have been fired. This naturally bolstered SIM’s position (and our accuser’s) and hurt ours.

    Within a few days of receiving these results, we heard from another (non-SIM) missionary family we knew from our place of service in Latin America. The accuser had used SIM’s letter about our inquiry to help convince that mission family that the accuser’s child had been victimized by our family. This mission family had reached out to them, only to later have the accuser launch allegations against a member of their own family (same type of accusation regarding the same girl)! This was now the third set of allegations against 3 separate families the accuser had made within a 9 month period! When made aware of these facts, SIM admin assured us that they were “monitoring” things.

    Not long after the second missionary family got accused and had to leave the field, the accuser delivered a menacing document to the (non-SIM) MK school at which both our families had been working, and we were told that it contained more names of people accused of abusing or covering up for the abuse of her daughter. At this point we asked SIM how the “monitoring” was going (hoping they had realized something had gone wrong with their conclusions about us and would reopen our case). SIM would only insist that they had a “quality well-researched” program with “credible” results in our case, and that I still needed to leave the mission.

    That was it! At that point we finally lost all trust that SIM as an entity was primarily concerned about Biblical justice and truth. Our speculative conclusion: we were sacrificed by SIM. To look into things more deeply would perhaps be too costly and risky to the organization, especially to Child Safety, which had been very highly invested in. They may believe enough time and money had already been spent on us. Perhaps they also have legal advice that prevents them from admitting any wrong. Only SIM leadership can tell the truth about the reasons for their actions. But will they?

    Sadly the flood of accusations didn’t stop there. In 2016 we were led to an online newspaper web story in which the accuser had labeled the Christian school a hotbed of abuse and cover-up and wanted to get it closed down. Although no names were mentioned in the article, we know who it was she was talking about.

    Then in early 2017 we learned that the accuser had struck again! This time an American friend of ours from the church and school in Latin America had allegations come against her (for the same child). She spent a month in jail, but has since gotten out on a kind of house arrest and is currently engaged in legal proceedings. Please pray for her.

    Around the same time we were alerted to an online page that someone (who apparently had been duped by the accuser as well) had set up on her behalf in order for her to raise funds. The page had actually been up for several months when we first saw it and she had raised several thousand dollars. In it she told her story of the multiple supposed abuses her daughter had gone through at the hands of missionary families. The page stated she needed the money for her “cancer” as well as giving her “abused” daughter a trip to Disney world. Two aspects were particularly disturbing: how the accuser used Christian lingo deceptively to manipulate people to support her, and the fact that our family name was posted in such a derogatory and slanderous way! We told SIM about it, but as far as we know they made no effort to help take the web page down. We had to instigate that ourselves a few months later with the help of a lawyer.

    SIM leadership has yet to admit any error in the handling of our situation. SIM seems to have ignored all after-the-fact evidence or information and administration has repeatedly stated that in our case their “well-trained” people, using a quality “well-researched” tool, did their job well and that the findings are credible. They also give the legal claim that extra information coming in afterward is “unsubstantiated.” Friends (both SIM and non-SIM) inquiring to SIM on our behalf have been told to stay out of what the mission deems to be a confidential case (although it is not confidential to us because we want the truth out). They have stated that these inquiring people don’t know all the details, and that SIM can’t share anything with them due to privacy. This is very misleading, naturally causing people to think that the SIM inquiry team did indeed find real evidence to support their conclusions. Attempts on our part to get the SIM leadership who had made faulty judgments regarding our family to meet together with us and other concerned SIM members have been thwarted.

    SIM’s claims of having done a reasonable inquiry into our case are looking more foolish as time goes on and meanwhile our serial accuser has continued to do her thing. SIM’s decision to stand behind their inquiry team’s erroneous conclusion in turn supports the testimony of an evil woman in an overseas country who is using/abusing her daughter for her own purposes and wreaking havoc on the Christian community. Their tacit support for the accuser also implies that SIM believes our family to be incestuous and abusive.

    Another sad aspect to this protocol used on us is the following: SIM (with whom my husband had worked for the past 20 years) told us when they fired my husband that if he applied to another mission or for a job that involves working with children, SIM would have an “ethical responsibility” to inform the perspective employer that my husband was fired from SIM for breaching the child safety policy. I told the SIM-USA director that if SIM did that it would be passing on a lie. There was nothing but silence coming from the other end of the line after I said that.

    I wonder just how long SIM will run from the truth before it catches up with them. In my opinion, the sooner they come clean the better it will be for all. What an unfortunate and precarious position they put their missionaries in, especially those who work with children! SIM has disciplined missionaries without real evidence of wrongdoing, yet it seems before the mission will reverse anything the accused has to present evidence to prove he doesn’t deserve to be in that position! And exactly how do you prove innocence? How do you prove you did not do something you did not do?

    It is a horrible thing to be falsely accused while serving as a missionary overseas, but it is worse to return home and be treated as a criminal by the mission you’ve grown to love and trust. There appears to be no allowance for the possibility of false allegation in the SIM child safety system. Is the mission trying to make up for past mistakes in this area by now doing a blanket cleansing of anyone blemished by allegations of abuse? Swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction will not correct the problem because it is simply jumping from one unrighteous act to another.

    I have spent almost my entire life in SIM and my adult life working with MKs and TCKs. God has been incredibly gracious to my family, rescuing us from a life-threatening situation, bringing us into a smaller mission, and giving us a beautiful new home and ministry. He has strengthened our marriage and family when it could have been torn apart (as “Bill’s” has been). Although we are grateful that we have come out relatively unscathed, we do feel for the other people we hear about who are brutalized by having the mission side with their accuser, even when there is no clear evidence or reason that leads them to do so apart from the advice/conclusions of their “experts.”

    Our desire as a couple has always been to nurture, protect, and disciple children (that is the main reason we were serving with SIM). We don’t want any child to be abused, or to squabble with those who wish to protect children. But we also desire that no other missionaries who truly love and protect children be treated as we were by SIM. In my opinion, SIM Child Safety has to be held accountable for mistakes, and its policies and protocols must be completely transparent and available for any SIM member to evaluate should he/she so desire. At this point, it seems none of that has happened.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this. The fact that SIM did not handle this well, apparently led to other missionaries being falsely accused, and one even suffering a month in prison. What a terrible result.

    • One of the many things I find very troubling in these accounts of SIM’s handling of accusations made against their missionaries, is SIM’s non-disclosure to the accused of the “evidence” of their supposed guilt. Perhaps SIM does this under the guise of maintaining confidentiality, but that is completely inappropriate and smacks of cover-up and deception. It is NEVER okay to not reveal to the accused person the evidence for his/her supposed wrong behavior. How is the accused to defend himself or herself if the so-called evidence is never presented? This is why the United States has strict laws that a person accused of wrong-doing is to be given complete access to examine any supposed evidence against them.
      I am a professional social worker who has worked in the child protective system for years, and I can guarantee you that individuals accused of child abuse are always given access to all evidence against them, along with any reports summarizing the evidence that are used for making recommendations and decisions, so they can have the opportunity to refute any inaccurate information and provide a defense and counter-evidence.
      SIM’s refusal to provide the “evidence” they rely upon for their conclusion of guilt, is unconscionable. It leaves one to draw the conclusion that there is actually insufficient evidence, and that SIM acted in an extremely careless and cavalier manner with regard to the proper care of their missionaries, and are now having to cover up those actions by saying that the evidence and reports are “confidential.” Unbelievable. SIM has a responsibility to care for and protect and walk alongside their missionaries who serve so faithfully around the world, not to throw them out at the slightest whiff of an ALLEGED problem.
      This would be bad enough if it were to be done by a non-Christian organization, but this behavior by a Christian organization brings harm to the name of Christ and as such is heartbreaking and shameful. I know the Bible speaks against taking your brother to court. But if this situation is repeating itself, and there is continuing harm being done to SIM missionaries and other missionaries/ministries because of it (harm that has such an extremely damaging effect on lives and ministries), and all options to use Biblical processes to address this have been attempted and failed — it needs to be addressed in court. A lawsuit for defamation/libel/slander or wrongful termination will force this so-called “evidence” into the open, and will clear the damaged names and reputations of those who have been wrongfully accused. More than that, it will change things for good at SIM and protect future missionaries and ministries. I for one would contribute to that legal fund.
      But my sincere hope and prayer is that SIM will recognize and acknowledge the grossly inappropriate ways they have handled these matters, will swallow their pride and any fear of legal action, and will simply admit their mistakes and wrong actions and offer their sincere and humble apologies. If these missionaries who have been harmed by SIM are the people I believe they are, they will quickly and graciously forgive. The missionaries can then move on with their lives with their reputations restored, SIM policies will revise for the better, and God will be glorified.

    • I feel for my friends that underwent all this horrible process and accusations. God will restore what the devil has meant for destruction. My friends will soar in the spirit and have more authority over the kingdom of darkness. God will secure the future of their kids for His glory. I feel sorry for the leaders of SIM that collaborated with Satan to mistreat my friends. Did they do it out of fear? Who knows. It’s not for me to judge. The only thing I know is that we reap what we saw. Unless we repent to receive the grace of the Lord.

  3. Dear Liz,
    Ok, so SIM are just a bunch of crooks!!, Sorry, but that is my opinion, and I am sticking to it.
    This Bill guy, should have dropped his bad wife, and gone into hiding with these boys. There is no other way, to avoid further victimization. SIM had already showed their true colours, with
    all their deception, when they lurred him to the USA, and also his wifes insistance in transferring the money into the ethopia. Christians should receive training also on how
    not to be naive, not just to be compassionate. I guess with having such a good marriage
    the first time, he never believed how bad a marriage could become. This story is very
    sad, and shows you, what power, money, and status can do when non honourable men or
    women are in positions of authority. But they cannot fool God, and He will separate the
    sheep from the goats. Make me think of my religious cousins, that I have in Manitoba. When I mention to them that I have lost my appetite over the last couple of days because or a very
    trying family situation (which they are fully aware of), my compassionate cousin turns to me and comments, “oh dear, try not to let it bother you so much”, lol. We don’t do lunch
    together, too often!!,

    • Hi Katie, it brings to mind Matthew 10:16. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. I think missionaries are much too trusting of other missionaries and mission leaders. They are still human beings, folks, and they aren’t necessarily working for your best interests. This was the problem back when I was at KA – parents should never have trusted that other missionaries were going to take good care of their children, just based on their being missionaries. Obviously it still holds true today.

    • Dear Katie & Liz,
      I believe you are both right on the idea that missionaries may be too naive or trusting of other missionaries or their leaders. That’s how I was, until I learned through personal experience that no human is fully trustworthy.
      My parents were some of those who went to the mission field solely to care for other people’s children. They spent 30 + years doing so. But they were so naive they had no idea that other caretakers/teachers with whom they worked might sexually or physically abuse the children under their care.
      The positive side of current child safety training is that it makes naive people aware of the possibility of abuse even within the church, so they can be better protectors. I’ve been through training a number of times, and can confirm that missions (SIM especially) have heard MK’s cries and are proactively trying to protect all the children in their care.
      However, the training itself that I have received as a missionary teacher/church worker has a very dangerous side to it. It gives symptoms which are common to many different types of trauma, and pins in the trainees’ minds that such symptoms indicate physical or sexual abuse. So a caregiver may jump to and act upon totally wrong conclusions, and when they report their concerns, (or ask advice of “experts” about suspicions) they unknowingly start a chain reaction that destroys the very relationships and people they are trying to help. I personally suspect that is what happened in “SIM persecution” case…but if course I don’t know the details of the mother’s side. I just know how I myself was “brainwashed” by my training and trusted the mission, experts, and protocols completely, until my eyes got opened.
      I can’t speak for other missions, but I know that SIM’s protocol had the following problem not long ago, and I doubt it has changed: It implies that children will never lie about abuse, and gives no consequence for bringing false allegations. In so doing it hands complete power over to children, allowing them to usurp even godly loving parents that God has placed over them for their own protection. The situation is exacerbated within SIM by its handing so much power and authority over to those handling child abuse cases, with apparently no accountability when they make errors.

  4. Dear Liz,

    Thank you for posting this and the link to the SIM persecution blog. You are correct in your headline. My circumstances are very similar to what this person went through. I plan to post further comments soon, but am still getting my thoughts together. In the meantime, I would ask that all who read this pray for Joshua B (SIM-Intl director) and other top leadership of SIM. Pray that the full truth can get to him in some way, and he will have the courage to do what is right, not just what he may be told is “lawful” or in the best interest of mission image.

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