The Virginia-based organization GRACE, founded by attorney Boz Tchividjian, has shot down claims made by leaders of the International House of Prayer Kansas City that they made multiple attempts to contact the organization about investigating sexual abuse allegations against their founder Mike Bickle.
"Following a review of communication channels, to our knowledge GRACE has never received any inquiries or communication from current IHOPKC leadership regarding recent allegations," GRACE said in a statement to The Christian Post.
GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) responded to IHOPKC's recent announcement stating that it had replaced national law firm Stinson LLP with a local law firm to investigate the allegations against Bickle to avoid "the appearance of vested interests or potential biases."
A collective of former IHOPKC staff, students and members launched an online petition endorsed by over 3,200 people calling on IHOPKC to use GRACE as a third-party reviewer.
In a Nov. 15 statement, IHOPKC leaders stated that they made multiple attempts to connect with GRACE and no one responded to them.
"Last week, on November 9, IHOPKC made multiple attempts to reach out to GRACE to explore the possibility of having their investigators come to review our findings. GRACE did not respond," IHOPKC leaders said.
The ministry further contends that GRACE can't be hired for the independent investigation because Tchividjian, who is a member of GRACE's board, is representing one of the women who is an alleged victim of Bickle.
Responding to questions from CP on Tuesday, IHOPKC said they are in talks with "multiple third parties" to review the ministry's recent "Report on Initial Findings," which suggested the evidence presented against the ministry's founder remains lacking.
"IHOPKC is in communication with multiple third parties to review its Report on Initial Findings of the allegations presented by the Complaint Group. Specifically, these third parties are invited to challenge IHOPKC's initial findings. Third parties IHOPKC has contacted include national Christian leaders, journalists, and investigative firms who were involved in #MeToo and investigating the SBC and RZIM," the IHOPKC leadership team said in a statement.
"Some people have cast unfounded suspicion and sowed fear around IHOPKC's choice to utilize law firms to conduct the initial examination of the allegations. But the truth is that law firms are routinely involved in the investigation of sexual abuse in accordance with due process — a fundamental part of the justice system and a basic right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution," it continued.
"Without due process, complaints are taken at face-value, evidence is not required, proceedings are unfair, and there is no integrity in the process. In this case, the wholesale and reckless disregard for due process by the Complaint Group that presented the allegations against Mike Bickle necessitated the use of law firms who understand and will operate within the confines of this constitutional right."
IHOPKC's leadership team said the law firms they chose "are very experienced in representing victims of sexual abuse, including victims of clergy abuse and victims in the Boy Scouts of America."
"Simply put: IHOPKC has been adhering to due process to verify the allegations presented to it, and unless/until IHOPKC is able to verify these allegations, it cannot move forward with an investigation. Any claim to the contrary is false," they added.
IHOPKC founding member Dwayne Roberts, former IHOPKC Executive Leadership Team member Brian Kim and former Forerunner Church Pastor Wes Martin revealed in a joint statement last month that they first confronted IHOPKC leaders about the allegations against Bickle spanning "several decades."
In the "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 on Oct. 24, when they were first confronted with the allegations.
"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 identified 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, predating Bickle's founding of IHOPKC, was found to have some credibility, and Tchividjian is currently representing that individual.
Information shared with CP by a source and confirmed by GRACE alleges that IHOPKC knowingly kept a director on staff who had been accused of inappropriately touching a teenage girl for two-and-a-half years in the mid-1980s, starting at the age of 14.
"GRACE conducted an investigation in 2018 into 'any and all known allegations of sexual abuse and/or misconduct against Brad Tebbutt.' This concluded in 2019," Robert Peters, GRACE's director of Institutional Response, noted in a statement to CP. "The final report was released to leadership at IHOPKC, and GRACE made recommendations in that report."
IHOPKC did not immediately respond to questions about Tebbutt's relationship with the ministry. In June 2022, The Kansas City Star reported that he was still serving as a missionary for IHOPKC after he was outed on the Southern Baptist Convention's official list of alleged sexual abusers. The GRACE report labeled Tebbutt as the former director of IHOPKC's Simeon Company Internship.
"Tebbutt now works at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, MO…," the SBC document states. "He served as a youth pastor for 30 years."
IHOPKC pointed to an April 2019 news release issued by the ministry and noted that they had found after an investigation that Tebbutt had committed no "further wrongdoing."
"We would specifically refer you to the section that states, 'IHOPKC diligently seeks to be a safe, accountable, transparent and integrous organization, fully alert and corporately aware to abuses and abusers, of any kind. We desire to be a safe, trustworthy organization that deeply embodies the values and actions of Jesus for justice, mercy, and redemption," their 2019 statement said. "We are committed to both the prevention of oppression and to justice for those oppressed. Additionally, we challenge abusers toward full repentance with the hope of eventual restoration.'"