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ELT Update Letter 11/15/2023

Dear IHOPKC community,

We want to start by stating that IHOPKC takes allegations of sexual abuse very seriously.

IHOPKC is committed to investigating any allegations of sexual abuse in our organization and faith community in a way that honors privacy, safety, and due process.

If you are a victim of any form of sexual abuse, past or present, or if you are the victim of or a witness to any crime, please immediately report it to the proper law enforcement authorities.

You are encouraged to report any form of sexual abuse to IHOKC staff as well. We stand ready to provide pastoral care and counseling.

Today, in an effort to bring clarity in a time of pain and confusion, we are releasing a “Report on Initial Findings”.

The following statements and the information contained in our Report do not in any way negate our firm commitment to pursuing the truth of any credible allegations of abuse and obtaining restoration, healing, and justice for the victims of abuse.

We want to address a few important points:

• Why has IHOPKC chosen to utilize attorneys to conduct the preliminary examination?

IHOPKC’s decision to engage a law firm to conduct the preliminary examination had nothing to do with preparing a legal defense or intimidating potential victims and everything to do with handling these allegations with the utmost seriousness in which they deserved to be treated.

Stinson, LLP was initially engaged to conduct the preliminary examination because they are one of the largest firms in the nation with regard to representing victims of sexual abuse in the context of religious organizations. The Kansas City Star recognized, “The firm is known for representing sexual abuse survivors, including cases involving clergy.” Since one of the allegations brought forward would be considered criminal in nature, we believe that attorneys like the Stinson team, comprised of subject matter experts and former federal prosecutors, would be the most skilled at thoroughly and legally examining all the facts. We still believe this, which is why, after many expressed a lack of trust in a national law firm, we decided to choose a local KC law firm with a reputable attorney to conduct interviews with alleged victims.

Many people online and in the broader community are demanding that we not use a private law firm but rather bring in an outside party that “specializes in church abuse” to conduct a community-wide investigation.

You will find in our “Report on Initial Findings”, this step is premature until we can complete the first initial step of verifying the allegations.

Why we cannot hire G.R.A.C.E.

As stated above, IHOPKC did not retain its current attorney to conduct a community-wide investigation into the allegations but to conduct a preliminary examination into the allegations presented to us on October 24. Nevertheless, 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.

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. 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.

• Opportunity to make improvements.

Lastly, we want to say this crisis has highlighted 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 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.

Click here to see our Report on Initial Findings.

Thank you for your patience and your continued prayers,
Executive Leadership Team
International House of Prayer, Kansas City