Abuse claims at Bob Jones University to be investigated - FOX Carolina 21

Abuse claims at Bob Jones University to be investigated

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A sign indicates the main entrance of Bob Jones University in Greenville. (File/FOX Carolina) A sign indicates the main entrance of Bob Jones University in Greenville. (File/FOX Carolina)

Bob Jones University announced this week that it has hired an ombudsman to look into abuse allegations at the Greenville campus.

The organization, known as Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, or GRACE, will look into past incidents of abuse at BJU, and whether the university's response was adequate, according to a statement released by the university.

Some alumni said the independent investigation is a long time coming.

"It doesn't surprise me," said Jeffrey Hoffman, a BJU alum and executive director of BJUnity, a group made up of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered alumni of Bob Jones University.

Hoffman said he's heard of everything from sexual harassment to sexual assault happening at the university, and some involving members of his own group.

"There are people within the network that we support of LGBT-plus alumni, people from Bob Jones University, who have also made allegations of this nature," he said.

Some of those claims are backed up by information from the U.S. Department of Education. In 2011, the DOE's crime statistics showed there were nine separate incidents of sexual assault on campus at Bob Jones University.

Since then, BJU has taken steps, launching a task force to address abuse allegations.

In a statement regarding the ombudsman hiring, the university said, "[BJU President Dr. Stephen Jones] wanted to make absolutely certain BJU's policies and procedures both fully comply with the law and ensure a loving, scripturally based response."

University officials said they also want to make sure they didn't "under-serve" abuse victims.

GRACE will start their investigation at the beginning of 2013, and will give people the opportunity to report abuse allegations on the university's website, officials said.

Hoffman believes the investigation may shine a light that many in the community will need to see.

"When someone tells you that [they're] the victim of childhood sexual abuse, the bottom line is you need to believe them, and you need to tell them and help them to report to authorities so the proper investigation can be done," Hoffman said. "It should never be dismissed or swept under the carpet."

There was no immediate word whether the results of the investigation would be made public by the private university.

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