And the proposed changes — some of which would involve changes to the PC(USA) Constitution and would need to be approved by a majority of the denomination’s 173 presbyteries — involve things such as allowing people making charges of sexual abuse in the church system to make victim impact statements and to have an advocate in the process, and suggesting that the rehabilitation program when a person is found guilty of sexual abuse include acts of repentance.
The General Assembly Friday also formally apologized to the victims identified in the Congo investigation. According to Paul Masquelier, who was involved with that investigation, it involved abuse that occurred between 1946 and 1985, both at the boarding school in the Congo and in the U.S. At least 51 cases of abuse were discovered involving as victims 22 children and adolescents and three adults. A minister formally charged in the case — William Pruitt, against whom charges were filed in Grace presbytery in Texas — died before the charges against him could be resolved.
The Assembly apologized for not preventing the sexual abuse; for not believing early reports of the abuse; and for doubting and discrediting and even demonizing some of the victims. It also thanked God “for the courage of the survivors” and encourages others who have been abused to come forward.
Another investigation is underway of possible abuse at the American Presbyterian Mission, Schutz School, in Alexandria, Egypt from 1950 to 1970 and at Hope School in Cameroon in the 1970s.