BRANSON, Mo., April 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A new website has launched dedicated to creating greater awareness of sexual abuse that occurred at the popular, faith-based Kanakuk Kamps over many years, and the failures of Kanakuk leadership to protect minors from abuse by the organization’s staff.
The website, www.factsaboutkanakuk.com, includes an online petition calling for the Kanakuk organization and its leaders to release dozens of sexual abuse victims and families from confidentiality agreements that bar them from disclosing details about their abuse, publicly or privately. The petition says that such a move would allow victims to effectively network and provide support for each other. The petition has already received more than 4,000 signatures in less than a week. The website is supported by No More Victims, a movement organized by a group of survivors and victim advocates.
Included on the website are a timeline of arrests, criminal convictions and civil litigation that followed the camp’s failures to properly screen employees and report sexual assault to law enforcement, as well as Kanakuk’s efforts to minimize or conceal the crimes. Also included on the website are profiles of six convicted sexual predators employed by Kanakuk organizations from the late 1980s through at least 2012, although Kanakuk disputes whether some of these individuals committed their offenses while employed at Kanakuk.
Several news reports during the past 10 days have examined the questionable practices of Kanakuk leadership, which include ignoring the serial sexual abuse of campers by Pete Newman, who was employed by Kanakuk for more than 14 years as a counselor and later as director of Kanakuk Kamps.
“The true dimensions of the worst Christian sex abuse scandal you’ve never heard of have long been largely unknown. Newman’s initial arrest and sentencing received little media attention,” write co-authors David and Nancy French in a 5,200-word article titled “They Aren’t Who You Think They Are” published online in The Dispatch on March 28. “The resulting civil lawsuits received little attention, and nondisclosure agreements silenced victims and kept evidence under seal.”
The article claims that since Newman was considered a “rock star” by campers and Kanakuk leadership, including longtime CEO Joe White, the camp declined to fire him or report known incidents of sexual abuse to law enforcement, as required by state law. Newman is believed to have abused at least 60 campers prior to his arrest and conviction in 2010. He is now serving two life sentences plus 30 years in a Missouri state prison.
A follow-up article by David French posted on April 6 details the measures taken by Kanakuk leaders to force a nondisclosure agreement on a victim and family despite their attempted refusals. The victim’s mother states that although their legal battle was successful, the efforts by the camp “left us crippled by fear and pure exhaustion.”
The author also responds to criticism from Kanakuk about the initial article, presenting emails from victims alerting the camp to the sexual abuse by Newman as much as a decade before he was fired. The article concludes: “Kanakuk has not produced any evidence that our report is inaccurate, nor has it provided meaningful new evidence that alters the substance of our story.”
Another article, published online by MinistryWatch investigates questionable financial reporting by Kanakuk organizations. The article details a “suspicious pattern of self-dealing” in the organization’s budget, including compensation to members of Mr. White’s family, which controls the organization’s annual budget. “The individual numbers vary from year to year, but between 2014 and 2017, Kanakuk paid the Whites or entities owned by the Whites about $2.62 million. Such payments may not be illegal, but they are unusual,” according to Smith.
No More Victims, LLC seeks greater public acknowledgement by Kanakuk leadership of the lack of proper screening and training of counselors and staff, its awareness of the history of abuse at the camp and its failures to report the crimes as mandated by state law.
For further information, No More Victims may be contacted through its legal counsel, W. Scott Hastings, at Locke Lord LLP, [email protected] / 214-740-8537.
SOURCE No More Victims LLC