The Prairie Bible Institute and the daughter of a former student have each asked police to investigate allegations of sexual assault at its campus in Three Hills.
Civilian Doris Stapleton, a media relations officer with the RCMP in Alberta, said on Saturday that investigators with the Three Hills detachment will speak with college administrators to determine what action should be taken.
Linda Fossen, whose father attended the school’s Bible college during the mid-1960s, said she asked the RCMP last week to investigate what she believes is an endemic and ongoing environment of sexual abuse.
Fossen, 53, has been contacted by scores of former students since the release of Out of the Miry Clay: Freedom from Childhood — her book about how her father started sexually abusing her when she was three years old. The attacks ended nine years later, after she threatened to tell.
The stories Fossen has heard from former students include incidents of both male and female staff abusing children of the same and of the opposite sex as well as stories of sexual harassment and assault involving adult staff.
Students come from all over the world to attend Prairie Bible Institute, said Fossen. Victims stayed silent because they were steeped in a culture that does not tolerate insubordination, she said.
Ironically, boys and girls were kept separate at the schools to shield them from sexual curiousity and because their adult leaders believed sex crimes to be the most heinous of all, said Fossen.
Linda Brinks, a Prairie Bible Institute board member appointed as the contact person for members of the public and for anyone claiming to have been a victim, confirmed on Saturday that its leadership has also asked the RCMP to look into the allegations.
President Mark Maxwell was unavailable for comment on the weekend, but posted a letter addressing the allegations and investigation on the institute’s website, dated Nov. 15.
Maxwell’s letter says the alleged incidents date back “several decades.”
However, college leaders felt it appropriate to respond and to emphasize a commitment to seeking truth and transparency, it says.
Allegations were made public through a Facebook group set up for PBI alumni to discuss sexual abuse.
“We have taken a file containing many of these allegations to the RCMP, discussed the alleged incidents with them and assured them of our full co-operation should further inquiry be necessary,” says Maxwell’s letter.
“The board recognizes the seriousness of any potential allegations and would desire to achieve healing and reconciliation. My goal as President is to deal with this in an open and accessible manner,” his letter says.
The Prairie Bible Institute is no different than other schools of its type, which provide an ideal environment for sexual predators, said Fossen, who also attended its high school and its Bible college.
What the institutions lack is system for and a commitment to watching for signs of sexual abuse and ensuring that the perpetrators are dealt with, she said.
Prairie Bible Institute has been operating in Three Hills since its inception in October of 1922.
It is the umbrella organization for three different colleges: The Prairie Bible College, The Prairie College of Applied Arts & Technology and the Prairie School of Mission Aviation.
Fossen has founded a ministry dedicated to serving sexual abuse victims who are now serving prison sentences in the only Florida women’s prison that has a death row.
She has also written and is distributing free of charge an e-book, Straight From the Donkey’s Mouth: Exposing the Secrets of a Sexual Predator, which she wrote from the writings of a sexual predator.
— copyright Red Deer Advocate