Petition Alleging Cover-up of Sexual Abuse at Moody Bible Institute Garners 2,200 Signatures
More than 2,200 parents, students, and alumni of the Moody Bible Institute (MBI) have signed an open letter and petition, urging MBI President Mark Jobe to address an alleged pattern of “dismissal, cover up, and even disciplinary action being taken against survivors of abuse.”
“While many of us have found God and His calling on our lives within the walls of Moody, some of us have also faced harm,” the letter at change.org stated. “Harm that includes instances of stalking, discrimination, sexual assault, and rape. These harms were made worse when members of our community in positions of authority, specifically Dean (Tim) Arens, seem to have an inability or unwillingness to act to address them.”
The letter was posted Friday night and quickly garnered dozens of comments and more than a thousand signatures.
Anna Schutte (MBI Class of 2020) wrote: “I’m signing this because I have seen too many of my friends traumatized, raped, assaulted, silenced, and dismissed. I’ve had meetings with Resident Life and (Title IX Coordinator) Rachel Puente to address the unsafe nature of campus but with no resolution.”
Similarly, Christine Bowers (MBI Class of 2020) wrote that she had a Title IX case mishandled. “I also had numerous friends who had issues with the Title IX and had to drop out of Moody because they felt unsafe.”
The letter specifically called on President Jobe to include students and alumni in the selection of a replacement for MBI Dean of Student Life Tim Arens, who will retire June 30, 2021. The letter also called on Jobe to replace Rachel Puente as Title IX Coordinator; to remove any Title IX “decision makers who also have disciplinary powers”; and to publish Title IX complaints annually.
Also linked in the letter is a Google Document containing the detailed stories of four former MBI students, who claim Moody mishandled their abuse cases, including Anna Howard (Class of 2017), Megan Wohlers (Class of 2019), Bethany Timm (student from fall 2014 through spring 2016), and an anonymous student from the Class of 2020.
I reached out to several of the other people who commented on the petition, requesting more information about what happened to them. Some did not respond. Others did not want to speak with me in more detail about their experiences.
However, Chase Risner, an MBI grad who works as a family pastor in the Chicago area, responded to my request. Risner said he didn’t want to go public with his experiences at Moody. However, he said the problem at MBI isn’t just “victim-blaming or anti-women.”
“While the comments are generally misogynistic by administration when handling these situations,” Risner said, “I have found that the more common thread is a culture of suppression and deception, in order to maintain Moody’s reputation and funding.”
For more detailed accounts of the four former students who told their stories alongside the petition, read Julie Roy’s original article at The Roys Report.