Reports are rolling in that a Baptist doctor sexually abused and molested nearly two dozen children, including those of his fellow missionaries, while in the field.
The Association for Baptist World Evangelism recently released a significant report investigating—and confirming—the allegations made against Donn Ketcham.
“The investigation, which concluded in April 2016, confirmed that Donn Ketcham, an ABWE missionary doctor who served in Bangladesh, engaged in the sexual abuse of nearly 20 minors—most of whom were the children of fellow ABWE missionaries—and four adult women. The abuse primarily consisted of improper and medically unnecessary examinations at the hospital in Bangladesh, and included sexual assault and apparent drugging,” according to the report.
The report says Ketcham, a doctor at Memorial Christian Hospital in Bangladesh, sexually abused the children and minors from 1966 to 1989.
“In 1989, we received a report of sexual abuse of a female minor by Dr. Donn Ketcham, while he was serving as an ABWE missionary in Bangladesh. ABWE immediately investigated and confirmed that incident, and as a result, Dr. Ketcham was removed from the field and terminated from service,” an organization representative told MLIVE in 2011.
“In 2002, we received additional reports from several now-adult MKs (missionary kids) who expressed their suspicion that Dr. Ketcham might have also sexually abused them as children. While we have not been able to confirm these stories through our own investigations, the substantial commonalities lead us to believe they are credible,” the source said.
MLIVE reports Ketcham voluntarily surrendered his medical practitioner’s license in 2012.
ABWE hired a third-party investigator to dig into the claims three years ago. Now the organization is now moving forward with the results of the investigation.
According to the report, many of Ketcham’s fellow missionaries knew about his abuse, as did his local and regional leaders. He was reported over the years for inappropriate sexual actions, including an extramarital affair, but did not suffer any long-term consequences.
Despite the pleas of those around him, ABWE sent Ketcham back to the field, where he started a new affair and began abusing the daughter of a fellow missionary couple.
The report claims the ABWE leadership “mishandled” the abuse allegations and allowed Ketcham to continue practicing.
“ABWE, knowing that Donn Ketcham was a confessed pedophile, and knowing that he had lied on many previous occasions to deny and minimize the extent of his inappropriate behaviors, made no effort to discover whether there was additional abuse victims among the Bangladesh ‘missionary kids’ (MKs) or among the Bangladeshi nationals who were the primary patients at MCH. The evidence shows clearly that there were additional victims that had been abused under the guise of medical care,” according to the report synopsis.
According to the Religion News Service, Ketcham and family members did not cooperate with the investigation undertaken by Professional Investigators International on behalf of ABWE. They also report Ketcham could not be reached for comment.
Moving forward, ABWE says they now have a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual abuse.
ABWE adopted a new comprehensive and stringent Child Protection Policy, developed in consultation with the Child Welfare League of America, and is implementing new checks and balances within the organization to ensure the policy is known and followed.
The board is also initiating extensive mission-wide training programs to ensure people understand and recognize inappropriate behavior and know how to report it swiftly and safely, and that as an organization, they are creating administrative processes to quickly and thoroughly respond to all reports.
“I recognize that perhaps no sin scars its victims more than child abuse, and that our failures as an organization have tragically impacted the lives of some of our missionary kids. While we may never be able to erase their pain, I am personally committed to standing beside these women, and acknowledging our historic failure to do what is right. Their wounds are part of our collective memory, making us more attentive as an organization to guard against future harm,” Interim ABWE President Al Cockrell writes in a community letter.