(CP) Amid claims by a founding member and two former leaders of International House of Prayer Kansas City that founder Mike Bickle engaged in clergy sexual abuse, citing allegations involving eight women, a report released by the Missouri-based ministry Wednesday states it wasn't presented with "any actual evidence."
In a four-page "Report On Initial Findings" document published on the ministry's website, IHOPKC's Executive Leadership Team said the evidence presented against the ministry's founder remains lacking. The Executive Leadership Team says it has treated the allegations against Bickle as credible and asked him to step away from public ministry when they were first confronted by a group of men claiming to represent the women on Oct. 24.
"Within days, the ELT commenced consultation of outside legal experts on how to conduct a proper examination of the facts and how to best handle the situation. Significantly, at all times, the allegations were treated as if they were credible in order to care for any past or present victim while objective due diligence was to be performed," the report said.
"However, upon review by outside legal counsel, it was determined that the collection and presentation of the allegations by the Complaint Group lacked any semblance of reliability or due process."
IHOPKC was able to identify five of the eight women whom the complaint group alleges are victims of Bickle. Three of the alleged victims called the allegations "lies.'" One of the alleged victims refused to communicate with attorneys for the ministry.
Just one of the cases, which predates Bickle's founding of IHOPKC, was found to have some credibility, and that individual is currently being represented by attorney Boz Tchividjian, who founded the Virginia-based G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) organization.
"The document prepared by the Complaint Group to accompany the presentation of allegations on October 24 does not contain any actual evidence: no statements from the victims, whether sworn or unsworn, and no emails, texts, or other exhibits between Mr. Bickle and the alleged victim to substantiate the allegations (only blank squares acting as exhibit placeholders)," the report states.
"The Complaint Group's allegations were also presented along with a list of pre-prepared demands 'to prevent escalating levels of disclosure.' These demands and threats, which included dictating the use of IHOPKC's funds, generated an atmosphere of concern regarding the true objectives of the Complaint Group."
According to the report, the complaint group labeled the first alleged victim by her initials and alleged that Bickle emotionally and "prophetically manipulated" her more than 25 years ago. The allegation, they say, contains six short lines of text and is non-sexual in nature. It is unclear if the complaint group had permission to include her as an alleged victim.
The second alleged victim includes an allegation of physical contact between Bickle and an adult women, and it is "insinuated that Mr. Bickle may have committed a crime," the report reads. However, IHOPKC has been unable "to determine whether this criminal allegation has any credibility."
The report claims that victims 3-5 have issued public statements refuting the allegations that they are victims of Bickle. The report states that victim No. 6 told the Executive Leadership Team that the rumors surrounding her and Bickle were untrue.
"IHOPKC remains open to inviting a third party (or even multiple third parties) to examine these findings," the report stresses. "It is our sincerest desire that alleged anonymous Jane Does would come forward as soon, either directly to IHOPKC's attorney, via the Complaint Group or through their own legal representative, so that IHOPKC can then take the appropriate next steps."
Dwayne Roberts, a founding member of IHOPKC; Brian Kim, a former IHOPKC Executive Leadership Team member; and Wes Martin, a former pastor of Forerunner Church, previously revealed in a joint statement that they were the ones who first confronted leaders of the charismatic Evangelical Christian movement and missions organization about the allegations against Bickle spanning "several decades."
"Without going into details to protect the privacy of the victims' identities, we have found these allegations of clergy sexual abuse by Mike Bickle to be credible and long-standing," they began in their statement. "The credibility of these allegations is not based on any one experience or any one victim, but on the collective and corroborating testimony of the experiences of several victims."
They allege 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 claim Bickle attempted to intimidate, isolate, manipulate and discredit his victims.
"When these allegations were brought to our attention, we were shocked. We could never have imagined that inappropriate conduct with women as something we would ever need to be concerned about," the former IHOPKC ministry workers said. "The allegations seemed out of character to the man we thought we knew, but they were so serious we could not ignore them."
Bickle, they allege, used his position of leadership over the women to manipulate them.
"We believe that Mike Bickle's actions were not above reproach and fall short of biblical standards for leaders in the church. To be clear, the allegations made about Mike Bickle's misconduct were sexual in nature where the marriage covenant was not honored. Furthermore, the allegations made also reveal that Mike Bickle used his position of spiritual authority over the victims to manipulate them," the former IHOPKC workers said.
IHOPKC recently announced that it replaced national law firm Stinson LLP, which was hired to investigate abuse allegations against Bickle, to avoid "the appearance of vested interests or potential biases."
Stinson was replaced with a local law firm despite calls from a collective of former IHOPKC staff, students and members in a Change.org petition endorsed by more than 2,800 people, calling for the ministry to use the services of G.R.A.C.E. as a third-party reviewer.
"We are not opposed to having an outside group come to KC to review our initial findings. However, G.R.A.C.E. cannot be that third party," the ministry said.
"Last week, on November 9, IHOPKC made multiple attempts to reach out to G.R.A.C.E. to explore the possibility of having their investigators come to review our findings. G.R.A.C.E. did not respond. The very next day, we learned that the founder of G.R.A.C.E. is now the private attorney of the main alleged victim whose claim is from 20+ years ago," IHOPKC revealed.
"This attorney is also currently listed as a board member on G.R.A.C.E.'s website. This represents a clear conflict of interest for G.R.A.C.E. and disqualifies the organization as a candidate to be an objective third party."
Despite the challenges the ministry has faced in recent weeks, IHOPKC leaders said they have accepted there are "things in our organization that need to be improved."
"We are planning to review everything from operations to administrative protocols and are engaging experts to recommend best practices. Some of these areas were already being addressed before this crisis hit, some will take time to remedy, and some we need to address immediately," the ministry's leaders said. "The first change is that, very soon, we will be announcing a clear and simple process and protocol for people who want to report any form of sexual abuse."