New Tribes Mission Sweeps Child Sex Abuse Under the Rug

Adults who were abused emotionally, spiritually, physically and sexually while children in a New Tribes Mission boarding school in Fanda, West Africa are speaking out and seeking justice. The boarding school was for the children of missionaries with New Tribes Mission. It has long been the established practice for missionary children to be sent to boarding schools while their parents served in foreign countries. This practice is not unique to New Tribes Mission, but has been an established practice of most mission boards that I have ever known.

What makes this particular school and situation stand out is that there is now extensively documented evidence that the mission board knew of the sexual abuse by 1987 but did nothing about it. As of the present time, more than 20 years later, they have still taken no legal action and persist in ignoring the pleas of former victims for justice. They are making token noises about the systemic abuse but have done nothing definitive.

What will it take for New Tribes Mission to step up to God’s standards of righteousness? This is inexcusable. Any “work for the Lord” is tainted and polluted when the same people who claim to be winning the lost for Christ are simultaneously flushing other lives down the drain in some of the most destructive ways possible. A “little” poison in the brownies is enough to kill all who eat them. This is not just repugnant. It is a spiritual outrage that should appall anyone with a conscience. Yet, these leaders do not seem to see the situation with any sort of godly perspective. That fact should give anyone serious pause. The documented facts are enough to reveal there is no acceptable excuse.

25 Responses

  1. Thank you for your support for my dear MK friends who are now in the midst of a struggle for justice.

  2. thanks for publishing this, dannimoss. the mk’s of ntm appreciate your support.

  3. Thank you, Danni.

  4. Danni,
    How can NTM be prosecuted, or where can the victims look for help legally?

    • I was told to check with Missionary Kids Safety Net at http://www.mksafetynet.net/index.html. However, I have also been told the Fanda survivors have already done that. The next thing I would recommend would be to contact SNAP (Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests) at http://www.snapnetwork.org/. Obviously, this situation didn’t involve priests, but this organization may know of attorneys you could contact and what the legal process is.

      — Danni

  5. “An interesting problem that has not been completely addressed is: What should be done with abuse allegations and resultant findings of an internal investigation in relation to the field of service? There is concern with regard to what authorities on some foreign fields of service might do to the offender. Since NTM does not usually involve local authorities in allegations and internal investigations, is NTM in some way violating local law as well as jeopardizing the mission’s presence in that country?”
    -NTM Abuse Manual, pages 13-14

    If this had been made up by the enemies of the Gospel, we could understand it as a horrible smear on the character of NTM’s leadership. Instead, it is from NTM’s own publications, available on the web.

    May I express my outrage? Why in the world has this “interesting problem. . . not been completely addressed”?

    They are concerned with regard to what the authorities on some foreign fields of service might do to the offender?!? In the States, there is a pithy saying: If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. The time to worry about consequences is before the offense is committed. Moreover, this is in stark contrast to the concern shown for the offended parties – the children. The proof? How may “offenders” have ever been reported to local authorities? How many children have been ignored and further abused?

    “NTM does not usually involve local authorities in allegations and internal investigations.” What about when those internal investigations (“resultant findings”) prove abuse? Does the Bible teach that the governments of the world are ordained of God to punish evil, or does that just mean the US government? Are NTM “offenders” subject to local laws in these countries?

    Has NTM no obligation to find out if they might “in some way” be violating local law? Is ignorance not only bliss, but an excuse?

    I am touched that they are worried about “jeopardizing the mission’s presence” in various countries. What have they done to jeopardize children’s lives in their boarding schools? This line of putting God’s work above God’s Word is shameful and cultish.

    I applaud you for making these incidents public.

  6. Since when do modern missions advocate “offering our children to Molech.” About 3,000 years ago, God’s people got the odd idea that sacrificing their children to “god” would be the pious thing to do. The real God came down on that idea pretty heavily. Jeremiah 7:31-32 “They have built the high places of Topheth in the valley of Ben-Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fires–something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. So beware the days are coming, says the Lord…when the carcasses of this people will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.”
    God sure is impressed by the sacrifice of children, isn’t He?

  7. This is a recent post from the Fanda Eagles site:

    Investigators claim to have found more than 6,000 pictures and 250 video clips of child pornography on the computer of NTM Member Joel Price. He was subsequently indicted on two counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. No charges of sexual abuse were filed and the police do not believe that he had any sexual contact with children.

    Here is the timeline:

    April 2008: Internet Crimes Against Children task force traced child porn being shared on the Internet to Price’s previous home

    May 2008: Joel Price’s computer searched

    June 2008: Joel Price resigned from his position as “Youth Pastor” with New Tribes Mission, Sanford, Florida

    December 18, 2008 Joel Price is arrested by the US Marshals Service and released on $50,000 bond

    December 27, 2008 The story breaks in the press. New Tribes Mission is contacted by many reporters and the NTM spokesperson tells the media that Joel Price resigned earlier in 2008. The spokesperson “thinks” it was because of the investigation.

    The spokesperson also said that Joel Price had been a missionary in Venezuela, but only worked as a maintenance man, not with children. A few reporters found a copy of NTM’s publication (NTM@Work, Vol.63, No.2, November 2004) online. On page seven was a picture of Joel Price going over a Bible verse with an MK. Joel had this to say in the article: “I have recently returned to Venezuela to serve at an MK school. I am teaching senior high Bible classes and plan to start a youth ministry in the coming year.”

    When NTM was contacted about this discrepancy, widely reported in local media, the spokesperson was “unavailable.”

    March 2009 Joel Price pleads guilty to possession of child pornography; two charges of distributing child pornography are dismissed

    May 2009 Joel Price sentenced to 63 months in federal prison

    Some questions that come to mind:

    Are we to believe that between April and December 2008, NTM was unaware that Joel Price had run afoul of the law? No one knew that his computer had been searched? Joel Price’s parents are NTM missionaries. His wife’s parents are NTM missionaries. No one knew? No one prepared for the inevitable questions that the press would ask?

    Between his arrest on December 18 and the press inquiries a week later, did no one do any research on his past involvement with the mission, specifically his contact with children? Is the NTM spokesperson so inept as to speak to the press with no knowledge of events? Or so duplicitous as to tell an outright lie?

    How did they not know that Joel Price HAD had contact with children in Venezuela? Or, if they knew, Why did they lie?

    When the press found out about the discrepancy, why didn’t NTM rush to make a statement giving the painful truth? “Yes, he did have contact with children, both in Venezuela and as our Youth Pastor. I should have calibrated my earlier statement differently.” Would that have been hard?

    Since Joel Price’s conviction, has NTM done an internal investigation to find out if any abuse did occur at the NTM school in Venezuela?

    Oh, wait. We already know about internal investigations. I will quote from the Daytona Beach (Florida) Online Journal: “In December 2006, George Allen Goolde — a foster parent and full-time mission employee [of New Tribes Mission] – was arrested and charged with molesting four children in his care. He was convicted and is serving a 50-year prison sentence.

    “At the time he was arrested, officials at the mission said its internal investigations showed ‘no incidents of concern.’”

    Mark that: “No incidents of concern.” That was the finding of an internal NTM investigation. I hope the Fanda Eagles have a lot of confidence in the internal investigation that NTM is doing on their behalf.

    NTM is not doing very well on investigations. They doing very poorly on transparency. Why?

    [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

    Email NTM and tell them you support the Fanda Eagles and deplore their coverup. ntm@ntm.org

  8. Just so you know, New Tribes Mission has taken EXTENSIVE action on dealing with child sexual abuse. They may not have initiated court cases, but they have dealt with this problem in multiple ways. There are procedures in place, and extensive screening of those working with children. Unfortunately we live and work in a fallen world. New Tribes Mission in NO way condones this kind of sin or behavior.

    • Failure to “initiate court cases” is failure to deal with the issue. The Bible says we are to be subject to every ordinance of man (I Peter 2:13). Child sexual abuse is illegal. All the “things” they may have done that fell short of this is failure to obey the Word. There is no other way to slice it. These are crimes which must be submitted to legal authorities.

      This pattern of “dealing with it in-house” has been done by the Catholic church and multiple Protestant denominations. No matter what is “done” – if it falls short of the Word it is just as wrong as doing nothing at all.

      Yes, we live in a fallen world. There will always be pedophiles and sexual predators in it. And they will infiltrate the church. But when there is any accusation of sexual impropriety, that situation must be immediately brought to the legal authorities. Failure to act decisively in this way has apparently put multiplied victims at risk over the course of many years. How can that be construed as godliness?

      Failure to act also creates an environment where sexual predation is “covered” — and it will multiply. That is why the Bible demands that such be publically exposed to the church and that they be put out of the fellowship entirely. We are not even to eat with them. Moving them to another position, even one supposedly away from contact with children, is not, by any stretch of the imagination, obedience to the Word about this issue.

      It amazes me that religious leaders continue to claim that they are “taking extensive action” when they persist in refusing to take the action the Word requires. They can generate “action” all day long for years on end, but if it’s not the right action it is just wasted fluff. God is certainly not deceived by an excess of “action” that still fails to obey His Word.

      I’m not saying this to be hard on you, since you may fully believe what you said and what you have been told. But it is wrong.

      — Danni

    • Livinginpalawan makes some sweeping statements. Let’s see how these policies work in practice.

      Suppose a married man worked as an NTM missionary in an overseas school. Suppose he invited a student from the school out for a meal at a nice Italian restaurant, just the two of them. Suppose the student was a beautiful girl. Suppose they did, in fact, go out to eat, just the two of them – this married man and this beautiful young lady. Suppose someone in leadership found out. Suppose nothing had happened, just a nice meal. No hand holding, no kissing. Perfectly pure.

      How would NTM deal with this according to their procedures? Or, would it need to be dealt with?

      How does this compare with what would happen at a government run school in Chicago?

      This is not new. The Corinthian brethren had lower standards than the Gentiles around them, too. (I Corinthians 5:1-2) But, that does not make it right.

    • Does this comment represent NTM’s official position? The poster states: “New Tribes Mission in NO way condones this kind of sin or behavior.” This needs to be clarified. I am sure that NO ONE thinks NTM condones sexual abuse of children. Do they condone how this case was handled by leadership? Have there been very many cases of sexual abuse of children in NTM? How were they dealt with? This post is vague and misleading; it requires further elaboration.

      It is clear from reading the Fanda Eagles website that “NTM has dealt with this problem in multiple ways.” Most of those multiple ways have the outside aspect of a cover up. The ones that don’t look like cover up, look like foot dragging and prevarication. Maybe there are more ways that I missed.

      Could you please offer a few more concrete examples of ways that NTM has dealt with the problem of child sexual abuse (sexual abuse of children)?

      Where is your outrage, Livinginpalawan?

    • Palawan: it does not matter how serious ntm takes it, if they choose to not pursue legal action. They are breaking the law by not doing so, and are criminally and spiritually liable

  9. If NTM won’t act then the victims should call the authorities themselves. If NTM won’t deal with it appropriately on their own they can deal with it when the police show up at their headquarters. Aren’t they mandated reporters? Aren’t they legally liable for any abuse that takes place after the initial report?

    I can’t fathom being a part of their leadership and not taking IMMEDIATE action. Delay will only harm the victims, postpone justice, harm the good missionaries who are with NTM and bring greater media attention and outrage. I just don’t understand.

  10. Can an individual verify if NTM reported or not reported to authorities the Senegal abuse?
    Can a parent of an abused child also report the abuse?

    Just wondering so we can have the true facts that we are posting.

    • The way to check that would be to contact the relevant authorities and ask whether there was ever a report filed against XYZ from such-and-such place?

      And, yes, parents CAN report the abuse of their minor child. In fact, it would be their responsibility to do so as soon as they knew about it. What often happens in a situation like this is if parents do find out about it, they go first to the authority of the organization rather than to the legal authorities. The authority in the organization then convinces them to let the organization handle it. This is a big mistake. The parents should go to the legal authorities first — but they often do not know that.

      I also understand that the legalities may vary in countries outside the US. In this case, I would encourage parents to find legal advice within that country, and still not rely on the organization to “handle it.” Outside accountability will work wonders in getting the organization to handle it properly — amazing how that happens. But that’s what governmental authority is for according to I Peter 2.

      — Danni

    • Also, when verifying whether a report was filed, ask the authority to whom you are speaking whether there is any other place such a report should have or might have been filed — just in case jurisdiction is different from what you anticipated.

      — Danni

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