People of Praise Hires Two Law Firms to Investigate Abuse Claims
Katie Logan says the beloved physics teacher and girls basketball coach at her Christian community’s school sexually abused her in 2001 when she was 17. She told her parents and reported the abuse to the school in 2006, but nothing happened. The teacher remained a member of the Minnesota community and leader at the school, even as he continued to generate concerns about his behavior with other students.
Logan finally went to the police in December 2020, months after her little-known Christian community – People of Praise — became newsworthy overnight: One former member, Amy Coney Barrett, was nominated and appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court last fall. Barrett had also served as a board member of the People of Praise school that Katie Logan attended.
People of Praise is a strict, traditionalist group that emerged from the charismatic movement of the 1970s, and now has some 1,700 members around the U.S.
Now, People of Praise says it is hiring two law firms to investigate charges that the school, and the ecumenical—but largely Catholic—community that operates the school, failed to address repeated complaints of sexual abuse.
One law firm will investigate Logan’s charges.
And Robin Maynard, a former sex crimes prosecutor working for another law firm, will investigate additional claims, including abuse that allegedly took place in the 1980s at a separate Christian community called Servants of the Light, which would become part of People of Praise in the 1980s.
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The Washington Post conducted a lengthy investigation of the charges, speaking to eight women and one man who say they were sexually abused as children by members of the community. A Facebook group called “PoP Survivors” was created after Barrett’s nomination last fall and now has dozens of members.
Victims say the community’s all-male leadership, and its teaching on male headship and female submission in marriage, created a repressive environment that didn’t take abuse claims seriously.
And Robin Maynard says her interviews have already uncovered pockets of resistance to speaking out against abuse. As the Post reported:
“They have a very strict code about gossip and about ever saying bad (sic) about somebody,” Maynard said, according to an audio file obtained by The Washington Post. “One thing I found is that it’s a little hard to drag information out because they are very conscientious.”
Dave Beskar, Logan’s former teacher at Trinity School at River Ridge, the People of Praise school in Eagan, Minnesota, denies all charges. He stayed at People of Praise until 2011, when he relocated to Phoenix to teach at Great Hearts Academy. In 2014, he married a Trinity School graduate who was 22 years his junior. By 2015, he was back in Minnesota, serving as headmaster at Chesterton Academy of the Twin Cities.
Officials hope to prosecute Beskar, but face legal obstacles. Meanwhile, Chesterton Academy has announced Beskar is taking an indefinite leave of absence.
Some victims told England’s The Guardian they were “triggered” to speak out about the abuse after Barrett’s nomination to the high court shined a light on People of Praise. One said:
“The basic premise of everything at the People of Praise was that the devil controlled everything outside of the community, and you were ‘walking out from under the umbrella of protection’ if you ever left.”
One victim shared similar concerns with The Post:
“I am not questioning whether she is a brilliant legal mind. It’s more her association with this repressive organization that worries me and how it will impact her ability to be impartial knowing what I grew up with and the mind-set.”