The International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOPKC) this week replaced a national law firm hired to investigate allegations against founder Mike Bickle with local attorneys. The move came in response to a petition from a group of former staff, students and members who alleged online that working with the law firm Stinson LLP, “may carry the appearance of vested interests or potential biases.”
“Third parties that claim to represent alleged victims have communicated a lack of trust in the national law firm IHOPKC engaged to lead the inquiry,” the organization announced on social media. “After careful consideration, our leadership team has decided not to proceed with Stinson LLP and instead has retained a local KC law firm to conduct interviews with alleged victims.”
They also released a report titled “Report on Initial Findings”.
This local firm already has begun outreach to several women who have accused Bickle of inappropriate sexual conduct.
“IHOPKC is committed to investigating any allegations of abuse in our organization in a way that honors privacy, safety and due process,” the ministry said in a statement Nov. 15. “It is our sincere desire to serve and assist every alleged victim in order to see truth and light come forth during this sensitive and challenging time.”
The statement went on to say that it was premature to hire a lawfirm that specializes in “church abuse” saying they needed to complete the initial steps of verifying the allegations.
When asked by the Roys Report about the identity of the new attorney, IHOPKC said that would be kept confidential.
“The attorney who is attempting to hear from alleged victims is highly qualified. We will not be publishing her name out of respect for her privacy,” said Lenny La Guardia, a member of IHOPKC’s executive leadership team.
Bickle is being investigated for “serious allegations including sexual immorality” made against him by multiple women. Just over a week ago, IHOPKC leaders said one decades-old claim against Bickle was found to have some credibility, while other allegations brought by anonymous victims or third parties have been more difficult to ascertain. Two Sundays ago, Stuart Greaves, executive director of IHOPKC, read a statement to congregants at Forerunner Church in Grandview. He explained why Stinson initially was hired “to conduct an impartial examination” of the allegations against Bickle.
“Regarding the allegations so far, there has been one allegation from 26 years ago that has some credibility,” he said. “There are other allegations that have been more difficult to ascertain due in part to the fact that they are either anonymous or represented by third parties. Some of the alleged events predate the founding of IHOPKC. Additionally, some of the women that were named in the allegations have publicly refuted that they were ever victims of abuse and even denounced the representatives of the alleged victim group for using their names without permission.”
The organization says the ciris has “highlighted things in our organization that need to be improved.” It plans to review operations and administrative protocols to find best practices.
The first thing they will do, according to their statement, is announce “a clear and simple process and protocol for people who want to report any form of sexual abuse.”
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice