IHOPKC announces new investigators for Mike Bickle allegations

Eric Volz is managing director of international crisis agency, David House.
Eric Volz is managing director of international crisis agency, David House. | Screenshot/IHOPKC

Eric Volz, International House of Prayer Kansas City’s new spokesperson, who serves as managing director of international crisis agency David House, announced Sunday that the leaders of the ministry have hired a new third-party investigator to review allegations of abuse against founder Mike Bickle.

Volz also announced that ministry leaders are building what will be called a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to supplement the investigative work.

“Today is December 10th, and IHOPKC has engaged a new third party to conduct an independent and impartial investigation,” Volz said in a recording of the announcement two days before Bickle confessed on Tuesday to sinful misconduct he committed over 20 years ago.

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While Volz did not name the firm, he explained that they had “extensive experience conducting independent investigations into high profile cases across the KC metro area, including cases of clergy abuse allegations.”

“They are highly sought after due to the skill and thoroughness by which they conduct investigations. And I think most importantly, in this case, they are trauma informed. What that means is they're trained in how to interact with people who are traumatized with survivors of abuse. They know how to ask questions in ways that won't re-traumatize the subjects,” Volz said.

“IHO KC does not control this investigation, meaning it has no ability to dictate the process or the outcome. While IHOP is shouldering the financial burden, the investigators will operate completely independently. The investigators have already started. IHOPKC has turned over its documents.”

International House of Prayer founder, Mike Bickle.
International House of Prayer founder, Mike Bickle. | YouTube/International House of Prayer

On Tuesday, Bickle confessed to sinful misconduct he committed over 20 years ago after a woman, identified as Jane Doe by The Roys Report, alleged that for approximately three years, from 1996 to 1999, Bickle paid for her apartment, gave her a key to his office, and engaged in every sexual act with her except copulation. She said the IHOPKC founder wooed her with Scripture when she was just 19, and he was 42, then made her a kept woman for several years as he established his now popular ministry.

While Bickle has admitted to misconduct, he denied “more intense sexual activities that some are suggesting” in his confession Tuesday.

“With a very heavy heart I want to express how deeply grieved I am that my past sins have led to so much pain, confusion, and division in the body of Christ in this hour. I sadly admit that 20+ years ago, I sinned by engaging in inappropriate behavior — my moral failures were real,” Bickle said in a statement published on his Facebook page, while adding, “I am not admitting to the more intense sexual activities that some are suggesting.”

IHOPKC founding member Dwayne Roberts, former IHOPKC Executive Leadership Team member Brian Kim and former Forerunner Church Pastor Wes Martin revealed in a joint statement in October that they were the ones who first confronted IHOPKC leaders about the allegations against Bickle spanning "several decades."

They alleged that before meeting with IHOPKC’s leadership team, they attempted to discuss the allegations with Bickle directly “in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-17” but they were rebuffed. They claimed that Bickle also attempted to intimidate, isolate, manipulate and discredit his alleged victims.

“When these allegations were brought to our attention, we were shocked. We could never have imagined that inappropriate conduct with women as something we would ever need to be concerned about,” the former IHOPKC ministry workers said. “The allegations seemed out of character to the man we thought we knew, but they were so serious we could not ignore them.”

In its "Report on Initial Findings," IHOPKC's executive leadership team said they treated the allegations against Bickle as credible and asked him to step away from public ministry on Oct. 24, when they were first confronted with the allegations. Bickle noted in his statement that he was prepared to stay away from public ministry permanently if that is God’s will.

The IHOPKC leaders said they identified five of some eight women who the complaint group alleges are Bickle’s victims and found the evidence thin. Three of the alleged victims called the allegations "lies.'" One of the alleged victims refused to communicate with the attorneys for the ministry. Only Jane Doe was found credible.

Bickle said in his statement that he believed he had repented of his decades-old sin long ago until it recently resurfaced.

In his comments Sunday, Volz said he can identify with the alleged victims in the scandal because he was falsely accused and wrongfully imprisoned in a foreign country when he was 27 years old. He stressed that the IHOPKC leaders were proceeding carefully with their investigative efforts to ensure that it is done fairly.

It is one of the reasons, he said, the ministry has decided to invest in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to supplement their investigative work.

“Your leaders have been working around the clock and they are planning to go beyond a third-party investigation. IHOPKC and its board of directors are building out what will be called The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This commission will include an advisory panel of outside leaders, a thorough examination of everything that has taken place here,” Volz said.

“There will be human resources experts, pastoral programs, regular community meetings and much more. The details of that project will be shared publicly in the near future, but I can say that from what I've seen, and what has been voted on by your board of directors, IHOP cares about sound oversight, accountability and is open to improvement,” he explained.

Boz Tchividjian, grandson of the late evangelist Billy Graham, and attorney for Bickle’s main alleged victim, told The Roys Report (TRR) that the new firm hired by IHOPKC is the Lathrop Group in Kansas City, Missouri, and he does not approve of them because they boast about successfully defending church groups from sexual abuse allegations on their website.

“A nationwide practice of more than 30 years' experience, Lathrop GPM counsels organizations – schools, universities, day care centers, churches, religious orders and institutions, athletic and other nonprofit groups and for-profit employers – in connection with the investigation, defense, and prevention of sexual misconduct claims,” the firm states on their website.

“Our teams have handled hundreds of sexual misconduct claims, including high-profile cases that have received extensive media attention. We have a thorough understanding of the applicable law, complex discovery issues, and the leading experts. While some cases have necessitated trials and appeals, many have been resolved through successful pre-trial dispositive motions, or through an arbitration or mediation process. When claims result in liability, our insurance recovery specialists work to establish and enforce coverage by our clients’ carriers,” the firm adds.

In his comments Sunday, Volz stated that the time it will take for the investigation to be completed will depend on how well the alleged victims participate in the process.

“The investigators have already started. IHOPKC has turned over its documents. The investigators are in contact with the advocate group and all the known alleged victims. Everyone's gonna say how long is this going to take. Honestly, the length of time it takes depends on several factors but the main one is going to be whether or not the alleged victims and the parties involved in representing them are willing to participate,” Volz said.

“We hope they will participate so the truth can be brought to light quickly. Since they have already started the investigation, their identity is not secret. However, IHOPKC will not be publicizing the names of the investigative firm, the lead investigator, or members of the investigative team, in order to avoid any interference with their ability to conduct the investigation,” he added.

Tchividjian who founded Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, GRACE, told TRR that his client will not be participating in IHOPKC’s investigation.

“Why would reported victims of sexual abuse and misconduct sit down with an attorney from a law firm who represents churches and then brags about their successes?” Tchividjian said in a statement to the outlet.

“I have no doubt this firm well-represents organizational defendants in sexual abuse litigation. However, it cannot be all things to all people. It cannot represent and defend institutional clients in such cases and then turn around and invite reported sexual abuse victims to meet with you and trust you. It simply doesn’t work that way.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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