After a two-year-investigation of BJU Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.) suggested that at least two men be disciplined relating to mishandling charges of sexual assault.
Bob Jones University President, Mr. Steve Pettit, disagrees with G.R.A.C.E. The two men named in the investigation were Bob Jones III and Jim Berg. Bob Jones, III made public statements concerning what he termed “consensual rape” after the a jury convicted a former church usher of the forcible rape of a fifteen-year-old girl.
Jim Berg was the one who performed most of the counseling which was the focus of the Report.
My personal testimony includes but is not limited to the following:
I went to Jim Berg and told Berg about years of sexual assaults and child sex-trafficking. Berg thought it best to inform me that it was I who had sinned. After counseling me for approximately 6 months Mr. Berg became infuriated with me because I wasn’t getting better fast enough for his taste. He told me, “I can’t help you. No one can help you. Not even God can help you. You’re too damaged.”
While that is bad enough, at this time while attending Bob Jones University I was a “town student.” During a portion of this time I was married. My then husband was physically abusive. I went to what was known as the “clinic” which was East North Medical Associates. The “clinic” was the doctors BJU faculty/staff and students could see. I was sent to Mr. Jim Berg for counseling.
On more than one occasion I went to school with bruises and blackened eyes. I was told I needed to submit to my then husband and pray for him. At one point, Mr. Berg told me “You need to duck better and let God hit your husband.” During the course of counseling I divulged to Mr. Berg that I had been sexually abused from my earliest memory.
We (Mr. Berg and I) talked more about my past child abuse than we did about my marital problems. I told him that I was sold to others. I told him that I had memories of possibly being kidnapped. I told him of my finding out that Cleo Smith had never legally adopted me when I was 12 or 13. I told him I had found out that the name “Salina Smith” Cleo had called me was false – there weren’t any little girls born between 2 years of my birth with that name.
I informed Mr. Berg of the different versions of the story I had been told over the years:
1) I was abandoned in one of the rental properties in Philadelphia. Cleo took me and then drove me up to Bethel Baptist Church, Sellersville, PA . I was around 3-years-old. The pastor, Richard A. Harris saw me, claims he told her she just couldn’t keep me but the pastor never called the police or Child Protective Services.
I remember being in Cleo’s car and taken to the church. I remember the carpet in the church as red.
The pastor was always around when I was on the farm. I went to the Christian school associated with his church. If you’ve been reading this blog you know there are many other details too including the fact that I was taken in. I was given a bed in the corner of the open floor-plan basement while the the Pastor and his family their own private rooms.
2) My biological parents sold me to Cleo.
3) At other times when I asked too many questions about my Biological family they told me that after Cleo took me; my father was blamed for murdering me. That my father had died in prison.
I divulged all of the above to Mr. Berg in much greater detail. I specifically asked Mr. Berg what I needed to do to contact law enforcement because the differing stories about how Cleo got me and who was involved I had been told where not adding up. He not only did nothing but actively spoke against notifying law enforcement. At first Mr. Berg said that since those who sexually abused me were well-respected ministers in BJU-orbit fundamentalism I “would bring shame upon the cause of Christ – that would cause people to burn in hell for eternity.”
When I questioned Mr. Berg about that, Mr. Berg told me that “there is no point in you telling the cops because they would never believe you.”
I had been told all of my life if I told no one would believe me. Jim Berg – was the most respected counselor at BJU- telling me that no one would believe me once again shut me down from thinking about reporting to law enforcement for more than 20 years.
Berg served in his capacity as a counselor for 30 years. GRACE recommended that he be banned from counseling, and that the school should cease sales of his books and DVD’s. Pettit has stated that the University finds Mr. Berg’s teaching and materials “Biblical.”
It is also said that Jim Berg has been promoted to professor of counseling after the G.R.A.C.E. report was issued.
Sexual abuse and sexual assaults are hideous crimes.
Mr. Pettit talks a lot about the trustworthiness of Bob Jones University. Mr. Pettit talks a lot about the safety of Bob Jones University. Parents and students are supposed to trust that whatever occurs on the campus will be handled properly. Parents and students are to trust school administrators to act wisely in all matters. Then Bob Jones University hires an outside organization to investigate allegations of both sexual abuse and poor counseling to its victims and Mr. Pettit refuses the G.R.A.C.E. Teams recommendations? Trust is earned, Mr. Pettit.
**You may be unaware but in December 2014, Greenville County, SC Solicitor Walt Wilkins opened an investigation into the way Bob Jones University handled sexual abuse reports from students to see if state law was broken or obstruction of justice occurred.
Greenville Police Detective Collis Flavell is currently investigating these allegations. Detective Flavell can be reached by calling 864-271-5333 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org