(CP) Though reports of misconduct at the International House of Prayer Kansas City have been relatively low, a preliminary review of the ministry's 25-year history shows that at least a few likely "were not handled properly," the ministry's new spokesperson Eric Volz said Sunday.
Volz, who serves as managing director of international crisis agency David House, made the announcement at Forerunner Church Sunday while providing an update on the ministry's investigation into allegations of misconduct against founder Mike Bickle and the ministry in general.
According to Volz, one of the first things the ministry's new executive director, General Kurt Fuller, did since he assumed his role three weeks ago was order a "historic review of reported misconduct." And while that review isn't yet complete, Volz said with confidence there were instances when reports of misconduct were likely "not handled properly."
"That review is far from over but so far, we can say that for an organization this size with 25 years of operating history, over 20,000 staff who've served here, statistically speaking, the number of known incidents is actually quite low. At the same time, we can confidently say that a few of those reported incidents likely they were not handled properly," Volz said.
"From what we can tell, most of those incidents happened under the watch of leaders who are no longer here, but that doesn't change IHOPKC's responsibility to thoroughly examine and address each case. Some of the cases are clear-cut, and others are not, so we need to be very careful not to blur the lines between the two, and it's going to take some time to make those determinations," he added.
"Regardless, on behalf of IHOPKC, I want to apologize in advance to anyone who has experienced harm here or whose reports were not handled properly. It will take time, but General Fuller will get to the bottom of all of this."
About three weeks ago, Volz announced that IHOPKC permanently parted ways with Bickle even as he remains under investigation for "serious allegations including sexual immorality."
Bickle confessed to sinful misconduct he committed over 20 years ago after a woman, identified as Jane Doe by The Roys Report, alleged that for approximately three years, from 1996 to 1999, Bickle paid for her apartment, gave her a key to his office and engaged in every sexual act with her except copulation. She said the IHOPKC founder wooed her with Scripture when she was just 19 and he was 42, then made her a kept woman for several years as he established his now popular ministry.
IHOPKC founding member Dwayne Roberts, former IHOPKC Executive Leadership Team member Brian Kim and former Forerunner Church Pastor Wes Martin revealed in a joint October statement that they were the ones who first confronted IHOPKC leaders about the allegations against Bickle spanning "several decades."
They alleged that before meeting with IHOPKC's leadership team, they attempted to discuss the allegations directly with Bickle "in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-17" but were rebuffed. They claimed that Bickle also attempted to intimidate, isolate, manipulate and discredit his alleged victims.
In its "Report on Initial Findings," IHOPKC's executive leadership team said they treated the allegations against Bickle as credible and asked him to step away from public ministry when they were first confronted with the allegations on Oct. 24.
The IHOPKC leaders said they identified five of some eight women who the complaint group alleges are Bickle's victims and found the evidence thin. Three of the alleged victims called the allegations "lies.'" One of the alleged victims refused to communicate with the attorneys for the ministry. Only Jane Doe was found credible.
Volz said IHOPKC still had not gotten buy-in from the advocate group into their current investigation, but the ministry is working on it.
"Though we don't know the details, we know that the investigator has conducted numerous interviews with individuals who claim to have information related to the allegations against Mike Bickle, but we also know that she has not been permitted to speak to any of the alleged victims or members of the advocate group and as a result, IHOPKC still has not been able to verify the allegations that were presented by the advocate group last October," Volz said.
"IHOPKC wants the truth. We're going to get the truth no matter what it is. But the reality is this: in order for this to work, there really are two requirements that we need to see met. The first, the investigation must have the ability to be truly independent and we have that. But No. 2, the investigation must legitimately appear to those as truly independent to those that are involved," he explained.
"Those are related but not identical concepts, so we have No. 1 covered. We have an independent investigator, but No. 2 is the crux; we need community buy-in," the David House director said.
"IHOP's conviction is that a complete investigation should be conducted into the allegations of misconduct, and we believe our investigator would be able to accomplish this, but the advocate group does not feel comfortable with our approach, and we want them to feel comfortable.
"We cannot verify the allegations against Mike Bickle without their cooperation, and this community cannot find rest until it has the truth about those allegations."
Volz said he and Fuller have been working with the advocate group to establish trust in their process, and the David House Agency "has been working privately with the consultant of the advocate group on a step-by-step approach toward a mutually agreed upon investigation moving forward."
"This would be one that the alleged victims would have the ability to agree on and accept. To be clear we have not yet reached an agreement, but we are hopeful that we will," Volz said.
The independent investigation into Bickle's behavior is being conducted by attorney Rosalee McNamara, who was hired by the ministry. She previously issued a statement saying she is "free from any influence by any individual or organization, including IHOPKC."
Volz said that as a testament to her independence when the investigation is done, it will be released to the public by the investigators.
"IHOPKC's independent investigator has been hard at work for six weeks. She has been retained to conduct a truly independent investigation, and she has the qualifications to find out the truth," Volz said.
"IHOPKC has also confirmed that a final report will be released directly from the investigator. That means that IHOPKC is not going to have the ability to see the report first and edit the content before it gets released. It will be independently and directly released from the investigator."
IHOPKC also pledges to "implement any and all policy changes procedures and cultural changes to ensure that IHOPKC does not travel down this difficult road again."