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, when a BJU board member made national news for the way he’d handled a rape in his home church in New Hampshire, when, in 1997, a minor girl in his congregation became pregnant as a result of being raped by a church deacon, and the victim was made to confess her “sin” before the church before being shipped out of state for her confinement.
The story was the last straw for a network of alienated BJU alumni, and the school was feeling increasing pressure to respond.
In November 2012, Bob Jones University (BJU) asked GRACE to serve as an independent ombudsman, reviewing how the school had handled claims of sex abuse, rape, and harassment over the years.
Coming on the heels of the devastating revelations of sex abuse at Penn State, BJU leaders publicly said that the school was just being proactive.
After national coverage of the university’s firing of GRACE, and intense student and alumni criticism, in February BJU rehired the organization to continue the investigation.
One student who sought help for an eating disorder says her counselor admitted she knew nothing about the topic, and then went on to ask the counselee for dieting tips in preparation for her upcoming wedding.When Berg was told of students who alleged abuse or rape, he usually met with them for only one to three sessions, and bragged to a colleague that “in five minutes I can tell you what is wrong with somebody,” and provide them with the proper sheet of scripture verses, “and say go study this and you will be all right.” Berg often began to immediately ask them probing, accusative questions about their own “moral life”: whether they had been drinking or using drugs when assaulted, whether they were using them at present, whether they watched pornography or indulged in sexual fantasies—and, for women, whether they had experienced pleasure while being raped.One alleged victim says that when she told Berg about being raped by a coworker, he told her “there is a sin that happens behind every other sin,” and they had to figure out what hers was.The report is at once a grim autopsy detailing just how badly college administrators botched the handling of sexual abuse and rape claims, and also an example of surprising transparency from one of the most cloistered and conservative schools in the country.In the 301-page report, GRACE shows Bob Jones University responding to rape and abuse claims with woeful ignorance of state law, a near-complete lack of training in psychology and trauma counseling best practices, and an overarching campus culture that blames women and girls for any abuse they suffer, and which paints all sexuality—from rape to consensual sex—as equivalent misdeeds.