The International House of Prayer of Kansas City has hired an organization headed by evangelist Billy Graham's grandson to investigate sexual abuse allegations against a former California youth pastor who now has a ministry at IHOP.
IHOPKC confirmed on Friday that a Virginia-based nonprofit called GRACE will conduct the investigation. GRACE, which stands for Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, was founded by Boz Tchividjian, a former child abuse chief prosecutor and grandson of Graham, the nation’s most well-known Christian evangelist who died in February at age 99.
The investigation will focus on accusations made by a Washington woman against Brad Tebbutt, who in recent years has been running a ministry at IHOP for people in their 50s. Jennifer Graves Roach alleged in February that Tebbutt sexually abused her three decades ago when she was 14.
"All I can say at this point is that GRACE has been asked by the International House of Prayer to conduct an independent investigation into any and all known allegations of sexual abuse and/or misconduct against Brad Tebbutt," Tchividjian wrote in an email sent to The Star late Thursday.
Tchividjian, who is GRACE's executive director and also a law professor at Liberty University School of Law, said the investigation will focus on three areas: the period when Tebbutt was employed at the former First Baptist Church of Modesto, Calif.; the time frame when he was employed by Horizon Christian High School in Tualatin, Ore.; and his time at IHOPKC.
"Due to the fact that this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot make any further statements at this time," Tchividjian said.
IHOPKC said it was working with GRACE to investigate the issue.
"We take all accusations of this nature seriously," IHOPKC said in an email sent Friday to The Star. "We are committed to the safety and protection of all people within our care, especially women and children. We also care deeply for all of those who have experienced the trauma of abuse and are grateful that many with unresolved situations from the past are courageously coming forward to find healing.
"Due to the inconsistencies between the parties’ accounts of what took place 30 years ago, we are committed to a process of due diligence to ascertain the facts, we have engaged with GRACE in this process and continue to have an open relationship with all local law enforcement, and have asked Brad to take an administrative leave of absence during this process."
Roach said she learned about the investigation this week.
“I am just beyond pleased,” she told The Star. "This is what I have pushed for.”
She said IHOP originally wanted to conduct an internal investigation.
“But I wasn’t going to play that game,” she said. “So they agreed to do this.”
Roach said Tchividjian told her he negotiated the contract with IHOP founder Mike Bickle.
“What he did tell me is that the contract insists on complete independence so that IHOP or I are not controlling the investigation at all,” she said. “IHOP will foot the bill for it.”
The allegations surfaced in February, when Roach told The Modesto Bee that Tebbutt had sexually abused her in the mid-1980s. Tebbutt was a 27-year-old youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Modesto, Calif., when the abuse began, Roach told The Bee.
Roach said Tebbutt consoled her when her father died, then sexually abused her over the next 2½ years.
Tebbutt, who now lives in the Kansas City area, has not responded to requests for comment.
In February, a day after The Star first reached out to IHOP for comment, an official emailed Roach saying he wanted “to make contact with you re: events that took place between you and Brad Tebbutt 30 yrs ago.”
“Recently, Brad did make us aware of the details around these events and did provide information of a psychologist practitioner with whom he completed an 18-month repentance and restoration process,” wrote Dale Anderson, director of the pastoral support team at IHOP’s Forerunner Christian Fellowship, in the email to Roach.
IHOP told The Star on March 1 that Tebbutt had been placed on administrative leave while the organization investigated the allegations.
According to its website, GRACE helps develop child abuse prevention and safety programs for churches and Christian organizations, conducts independent investigations into sexual abuse allegations and assists churches and ministries facing such allegations.
GRACE's investigation team includes child abuse prosecutors and psychologists with expertise in abuse and trauma, as well as theologians and clergy members who have trauma and abuse experience.
“Our desire is to get to the truth of the matter,” the website says, “so that compassion and assistance can be demonstrated to those who have been hurt and changes can happen on an organizational level.”
Founded in 1999, the International House of Prayer is a 24/7 mission with its world headquarters on Red Bridge Road in Kansas City.
Tebbutt had been leading the Simeon Company Internship at IHOP, described as “a training experience and mentoring community for those 50 and older” who “desire to give their lives more fully to prayer, worship, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, outreach, and works of justice.”
Tebbutt’s bio says he has been married for 36 years and has two children. Prior to coming to IHOP, his bio says, Tebbutt was involved in youth ministry for more than 30 years.
Roach, now 47, is married and has a teenage son. She’s been ordained in the Anglican Church and works as a therapist whose clients include sexual abuse victims.
First Baptist, a prominent Modesto congregation where Tebbutt worked when Roach said the abuse began, changed to CrossPoint Community Church in 2010.
Roach said Tebbutt wrote her a lengthy letter in 2005 acknowledging that he had sexually abused her and saying that “I grieve over this.”
But she questioned how he could continue in ministry for three decades after abusing a minor for 2½ years.