New Tribes MK Goes Public with Abuse Account

On March 26, 2014 Lori McAlister publicly told her story of abuse by Gary Earl, a New Tribes missionary. Lori is an MK who attended a New Tribes boarding school in Numonohi, Papua New Guinea. She has been writing her story in a series of posts in the forum of the Fanda Eagles blog.

In the early 1980s, when she was a ten year old living in the dorm run by Gary and Anne Earl, Lori was severely beaten by Gary Earl with a wooden board. The reason for beating a 10 year old girl until she was bloody? It was all over whether she did or did not sweep a floor, her chore for that evening. Read the details about Lori’s experiences that night and in the following years on the Fanda Eagles forum at the link above.

In February of 2006 Lori reported the abuse to New Tribes and had almost four years of correspondence with Scott Ross (lawyer) and Bing Hare. Effectively no action was taken against Gary Earl during that time. In fact it was over a year before they even confronted Earl about the abuse. During the same time frame the girls from the Fanda school reported their abuse, culminating in the GRACE investigation. The Fanda boarding school was in Senegal, so these were incidents from two different countries where New Tribes operated.

In 2013 Lori was contacted by Pii, an investigative group now being used by New Tribes. They were conducting an investigation into Gary Earl. She discovered that he had physically and sexually abused others besides her. The findings of the Pii report were not made public by New Tribes, and Gary Earl still continued to receive support through New Tribes Mission, according to an Earl family prayer letter posted on the forum.

New Tribes did eventually send a letter just to the Papua New Guinea branch of New Tribes to announce that Gary Earl had been “forced to retire” because he had violated the Child Protection Policy. However at the end of March he was still living in Papua New Guinea, at the same location where the abuse took place, and planned to stay there until May of this year.

Lori McAlister is very clear in the course of action she would like to see New Tribes take. She states “I have asked for only two things from New Tribes Mission: 1) exposure to Gary Earl’s supporters and all NTM missionaries through a statement from NTM, and 2) termination from being a New Tribes Missionary, no longer able to accept support as an NTM missionary. That’s it. It’s that simple. I don’t want money; I don’t want to see a therapist; I don’t want a retreat; I don’t want revenge; I don’t want an apology from anyone; I don’t want a meeting. I only want someone in Sanford, Florida, to write a statement that explains Gary’s termination and I want someone to click a delete button on the NTM.org website. It’s easy, really.”

I want to note that there is a big difference between a missionary being terminated and a missionary retiring, even if he is being forced to retire.

New Tribes Mission continues to protect Gary Earl from even these consequences of his actions.

It has been over three years since the GRACE report revealed the shocking abuse that went on in the New Tribes Fanda boarding school. Since that time there have been at least three lawsuits filed against New Tribes by abused MKs, New Tribes missionary Les Emory confessed to assaulting girls in the Philippines, New Tribes missionary to Brazil Scott Kennell was arrested and sentenced to 58 years for pornography and sexual assault, and investigations are ongoing into abuse at several other New Tribes boarding schools. Lori’s voice joins a growing crowd of MKs who have suffered abuse at the hands of New Tribes missionaries.

Let’s weigh the lives of these MKs, and all of those abused MKs we don’t yet know about, as well as the nationals who suffered abuse by these missionaries. Is the work of New Tribes Mission worth the pain and suffering inflicted on all these individuals? New Tribes is still trying to protect their organization and keep these accounts silent. Do you still cling to your belief that this could never happen in a Christian mission where men and women profess to doing the Lord’s work? They have been infiltrated by the Enemy, and the wolves have been running rampant among the sheep and the lambs for many years. If you are still giving support of any kind to New Tribes Mission you are contributing directly to this cover-up, which protects and enables child molesters and abusers.

 

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The Influence of Missionary Parents

By the time I had lived through elementary school I was emotionally disconnected from my parents. It was necessary, since I only got to see them four months out of the year, and had by then weathered many, many trials without their help. Those of you who were sent to boarding school at the age of six know what I am talking about. We still love and respect our parents, but the emotional dependence of normal kids was severed when we flew away on that plane in September. (Some kids went home to parents who were abusive, and that is a whole other conversation.)

One thing all of our missionary parents have in common is that they are dedicated, determined and disciplined. In fact they are formidable people, who left their homes and traveled to Africa at a time when travel wasn’t easy, often by themselves, to embark on a life that was dangerous and uncertain. I think we all grew up with a lot of respect for our parents, if not actual fear. They set a high mark for us to follow. These are larger-than-life people who did some miraculous things, but we lost the chance to have a close relationship with them when they sent us away at such a young age.

Fast forward to the present day, and many MKs are stuck in a dysfunctional parent-child relationship. We long for a bond that can never be put back together, and we are careful not to do anything to upset what is there. We don’t want to get our parents in hot water with SIM by talking about abuse, especially if they are a resident at an SIM Retirement Home. We certainly don’t want to go into that dark place of grief with our parents, because it is like a chasm that will swallow us both up. We know now about the pain of separation from our own children, we can guess at how our parents suffered when they sent us away, and nobody wants to relive those emotions.

Some MKs have only begun to speak out about abuse after their parents passed away. My own father passed away before I started gathering information for this blog. It seems their passing opens a door that compels us or allows us to grab onto childhood experiences. Some MKs whose parents are still alive will only speak anonymously about abuse, or flat out deny having any issues with boarding school. We MKs are a very independent bunch, so why do our parents still have so much influence on this conversation?

HOW CAN PARENTS HELP?

I recently had a chance to read An Open Letter to Missionary Parents, by Rachel Steffen. Rachel is an MK who went on to the mission field and so also has the perspective of a parent. Rachel and her husband served for 27 years on the mission field with New Tribes, where they raised four children. This is not easy reading for an MK, and I imagine it is not easy for parents to read either, but I believe what she says is necessary, important and true.

SIM Missionaries, many of you have children who were abused or abandoned. Do you even know what happened to your children while they were at boarding school? Do you dare to ask? Perhaps you can give your children permission to take the steps that lead to healing. You can be advocates for your children with SIM, and you can ask SIM to investigate abuse and provide care for their wounded MKs. You can let your children know you support them. Please read An Open Letter to Missionary Parents, written by another missionary parent to YOU.

If you are an MK who was abused on the mission field, how do your parents influence whether or not you speak out?

Third Lawsuit Filed Against New Tribes Mission by an MK

Attorney Jeff Herman announced on September 28 that a third lawsuit has been filed by a New Tribes Mission MK, known in the case as Jane Doe 25. Jane was allegedly abused between the ages of six and eight by her dorm Dad and Bible study teacher, David Brooks.

In the GRACE investigation of New Tribes Mission which was completed in August of 2010, David Brooks was the most extensively reported perpetrator of child sexual abuse against MKs attending the Fanda boarding school. The actual Complaint document filed by Jane Doe 25 has been posted on the Fanda Eagles MK Forum under the thread Lawsuits filed against NTM.

This is the third lawsuit filed against New Tribes for cases involving sexual abuse. The first was filed on May 9, 2011 by an MK who attended a New Tribes Mission boarding school in the Philippines. I wrote about the lawsuit in May, 2011. The perpetrator in that case was Les Emory, who admitted to molesting 30 or so children while he was a missionary in the Philippines, but was last seen living in Chesapeake, Virginia with no apparent consequences for his actions. This lawsuit has since been settled out of court according to a press release on the New Tribes Mission web site.

The second lawsuit was filed back in July of 2011 by an MK who attended Fanda boarding school, the institution that was the subject of the GRACE investigation. Here is my post telling about that lawsuit. The ongoing case is also being followed in that same thread on the Fanda Eagle MK Forum that I linked above. New Tribes has made numerous motions to dismiss, and the last word I have heard is that Jane Doe has a deposition scheduled for the end of October, which is over a year after filing the original complaint. If you are interested in following the detailed record of the case at the Seminole County Courts you can find it here.

I wonder how much money New Tribes has sunk into these court cases in the interests of hushing up the victims? If I were a New Tribes Mission supporter, I would seriously have to ask how much of my funds is being put towards this legal effort. How many more MKs are waiting in the wings to file a suit? Time will tell what effect their policy of denial will eventually have on New Tribes Mission, and what is in store for other missions who are refusing to acknowledge abuse that occurred in their schools in the past.

How Safe are Missionary Boarding Schools Today?

I am not involved personally with mission schools today. I don’t have children attending a mission school and I myself haven’t attended one for over 30 years. So when the Director of SIM talks about guidelines that are in place to protect children on the mission field today, I have to believe that the children are protected, right? Except that at the same time I receive messages from missionaries who do have children in boarding schools, and are telling me a different story.

A number of people contact me privately with comments about things I write on this blog. They don’t feel safe talking openly because they fear repercussions to themselves or their children. The fact is that some missionary parents whose children attend mission schools are afraid to speak out about things that are going on.

For example in one particular school the “advocate” designated to hear complaints of abuse or mistreatment from children is a member of the mission Board. How is that person going to be an impartial advocate who is truly on the side of the child, and not also looking out for the interests of the organization? This is a school attended by some SIM students, who are boarders. Even though SIM is not running the school, do they have a responsibility to make sure that conditions at that school are safe for their MKs?

Then there is the case of New Tribes Mission. As recently as the 1990s there was widespread and horrific sexual abuse at Fanda, one of their boarding schools.They are currently investigating some of their other schools due to many reports by MKs, and this was only after much dragging of their feet and pressure from MKs to start the investigation. MKs actually had to submit a petition to New Tribes to get them to investigate these schools. New Tribes currently has at least two lawsuits ongoing against them for abuse. And they are a member of the Child Safety and Protection Network which Mr. McGregor speaks of so highly.

Just because a mission joins up with CS&PN and puts out a child safety policy, that does not automatically mean they have the protection of the children at heart. Sometimes it is more the protection of the mission organization that drives their actions.

Missionary Kids Speak Out in CBN News Interview

Three MKs who were abused on the mission field spoke out in an interview which was aired today on CBN News.  You can watch the interview on their web site.  Kari Mikitson is a New Tribes Mission MK who was sexually abused at a boarding school in Senegal.  Wes Stafford attended Mamou Alliance Academy, the school featured in the documentary All God’s Children.  Susannah Baker is an ABWE MK who was abused in the 60s and 70s while she was living with her family on a missionary compound in Bangladesh, by an ABWE missionary doctor.  Boz Tchvidjian, who heads up the GRACE organization which conducts abuse investigations, also appears in this interview.

I applaud all of these people for speaking out about their experiences, and helping to bring to light these things which mission organizations have been trying to keep secret.

I just want to say that even though the lead-in announcer says “those reports are now being investigated,” that is not completely true.  All the reports of abuse are not being investigated.  For example, I am not aware of any investigations going on at SIM right now, but I know of many reports of abuse that occurred at SIM boarding schools.

In fact, it saddens me that SIM is not included in the stories of abuse investigations, and not included in the list of resources that are offered at the bottom of the story on the CBN web site.  I think this is because there is no “official documentaton” of abuse at SIM schools, because whatever investigations have been conducted are being successfully kept confidential.

Way to go, SIM!  You have managed to keep yourself off the radar for this particular news story.

Because SIM was not mentioned in this story, should we assume there was no abuse at SIM boarding schools?  No, because I personally know of many MKs who were abused at SIM boarding schools.  I know of investigations that were started and then thrown on the findings inconclusive pile because the victim could not jump through all the impossible hoops that were presented.  I know SIM asks for a confidentiality agreement so that no one knows about the perpetrator, the abuse, the consequences, or that an investigation even took place.

The secrecy and refusal of SIM to acknowledge what went on in their schools is creating life long consequences for the victims, and also allowing the perpetrators to continue on with no accountability for what they have done, possibly racking up more and more victims over the years.

Fanda MK sues New Tribes Mission for Sexual Abuse

On July 29 the Orlando Sentinel reported that New Tribes is being sued yet again by an abused MK.  This is the second suit filed against New Tribes this year.  The first was filed last May, by a female MK from the Philippines, who attended Aritao school in the Philippines and named Les Emory as the perpetrator.

This latest suit is filed by a female, being referred to in the article as Jane Doe, who attended Fanda Boarding School in Senegal.  Although the suit names a male dorm parent as the perpetrator, it is being brought against New Tribes.  New Tribes is accused of not properly investigating abuse, and when it did find out about it, covering it up.

Fanda is the school investigated by the GRACE organization, who published their final report last fall.  You can read this report on the MK Safety Net web site, and also on the Fanda Eagles web site.  The investigation found that more than 50 MKs had been physically, sexually and/or emotionally abused at Fanda.  After the Fanda investigation was wrapped up, MKs from several other New Tribes boarding schools urged New Tribes to investigate their schools as well.  After much dragging of feet and a petition, New Tribes has opened investigations into their other schools.   This time around the investigations are being headed up by Pat Hendrix, who previously worked on the PC (USA) investigation.

A hearing is set for August 30 in the case of the lawsuit filed last May.  According to the Orlando Sentinel article New Tribes plans to argue for dismissal of the suit, because of the length of time before the victim came forward.  I hope and pray that this will not happen.  I find it interesting, and I hope Missions are taking note as well, that MKs are suing the Mission and holding them responsible, instead of solely going after the perpetrator.  I’ve been involved in discussions over whether a Mission is really at fault for abuse that took place in their boarding schools.  If they are told about the abuse and do nothing, they should be held responsible, just like any school would be held responsible under the law today.   Does the fact that it happened many years ago mean that it no longer needs to be reported and addressed?  The victims are still living with the very real consequences of the abuse.  If a Mission has files detailing stories of abuse, and they do nothing to help the victims or hold perpetrators responsible, they are at fault.  I hope these cases will drive home the responsibility of Missions for abuse that occurred in their schools.

New Tribes Mission Lawsuit

The Orlando Sentinel reported on Monday, May 9 that a sex abuse lawsuit has been filed against New Tribes Mission.  The former MK filing the suit says she was abused from the age of 8, at a New Tribes Mission boarding school in the Philippines.  The perpetrator was sent home from the mission field in the 1990s after confessing to sexual abuse of 23 children, and resigned from the mission.  However New Tribes never reported this crime to the Philippine police, and the man has never been held criminally accountable for his actions.

The Sentinel does not name the perpetrator, however in a media alert by the law firm we learn that his name is Leslie Emory.

This is not the first time New Tribes Mission has heard of sexual abuse within their boarding school system.  Last August the GRACE organization wrapped up an investigation of the Fanda boarding school run by New Tribes in Senegal, West Africa.  They found that more than 50 MKs had been physically, sexually and/or emotionally abused at Fanda.

After the Fanda investigation, New Tribes MKs from other schools began to come forward with abuse stories and asked for investigations.  It took some pressure from MKs and a petition for New Tribes to agree to further investigations.  In February New Tribes Mission finally announced plans to open an investigation of their other schools.  The investigation will be headed up by Pat Hendrix, an independent coordinator who has previously worked on PC (USA) investigations.  You can read more about abuse in New Tribes schools at the Fanda Eagles web site.

Update on this story:  On June 8,  WAVY (NBC)  television of Chesapeake, Virginia interviewed Les Emory at his home, as well as the victim who is filing the lawsuit.  You can watch the interview here.  He admits to molesting 30 or so children while in the Philippines, but claims that all ended when he returned to the United States.  Hard to believe, and very disturbing!