Presbyterian committee to investigate child abuse claims

Posted: Friday, August 01, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has formed a committee to investigate allegations of sexual and physical abuse of the children of overseas missionaries.

Their first cases involve claims of abuse at two boarding schools: the American Presbyterian Mission in Alexandria, Egypt, from the 1950s to the 1980s, and the Hope School in Elat, Cameroon, in the 1960s.

The Rev. Marian McClure, director of the denomination's Worldwide Ministries Division, said the allegations in both cases are credible.

The three-member Independent Abuse Review Panel will have the authority to hear any other allegations that surface, McClure said.

''We want to be part of healing for anyone who has already had something happen to them that shouldn't have happened, but we also want to prevent something from happening again,'' she said.

Another committee had recently investigated abuse of missionary children in the Congo between the 1940s and 1970s and found most of the abuse was committed by a former missionary who died in 1999.

The denomination has offered $15,000 in counseling assistance to the Congo victims, held services of repentance and organized a retreat for victims next year, McClure said.

The Louisville-based denomination has about 500 missionaries in 60 countries.

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