BY SARAH PULLIAM BAILEY ©2014 Religion News Service
After firing an independent watchdog group to
investigate allegations of sexual abuse on campus, Bob Jones University (BJU) has
rehired the same group, one month before the findings from a 13-month review
were scheduled to be released.
The university had contracted with Lynchburg,
Virginia-based GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) in
November 2012 but suspended the contract on January 27. The university met with
GRACE officials February 18-19 to discuss the review.
“GRACE satisfactorily addressed the university’s
concerns and Bob Jones University is confident the review can be completed in a
timely and professional manner,” the university said in a press
“To be clear, GRACE and BJU are united in their
commitment to a review that is thorough, transparent and objective.”
In December, BJU President Stephen Jones
announced his resignation due to health concerns, and he cited the “ongoing
challenges in leadership change” in a letter that terminated the contract with
GRACE. School officials had previously cited “differences” between the two
sides, a charge that the watchdog group said came as a “complete surprise.”
Now that GRACE has been rehired, a spokesman for
BJU said it’s unclear when the final report will be released.
The investigation is led by Boz Tchividjian,
Billy Graham’s grandson, who said he has no further
comment. Tchividjian, who blogs for Religion News Service, has written and spoken on why
evangelicals struggle to report sex abuse claims. “At the heart of the struggle
is a fear that is rooted in the need to self-protect,” he wrote earlier this
month. “All such ‘fears’ are usually masked by a rationale that the reporting
of such abuse may ‘damage the reputation of Christ.’”
GRACE was fired last year by an independent
Baptist missions agency shortly before it could conclude another abuse
investigation of missionary children.
Bob Jones is a private Christian university in
Greenville, South Carolina, with about 3,000 students.