The piece over at Christian Post is a follow up to an investigative report conducted by the Chicago Tribune entitled “After Years of Inquiries, Willow Creek Pastor Denies Misconduct Allegations.” CP reporter Leonardo Blair has the latest:
Megachurch pastor John Ortberg insisted Monday that the investigation of multiple sexual misconduct allegations by several women against Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor of the multi-campus Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, was “poorly designed” and exposed the women to “grave risks.”
“I was approached over four years ago with disturbing information that I did not seek out. Along with others who received this information, I directed it to the elders of Willow Creek. The process that followed was, in my view, poorly designed and likely to expose any woman who came forward to grave risks,” Ortberg, senior pastor of the nearly 4,000-member Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California, wrote in a blog post Monday.
In an extensive investigation published by the Chicago Tribune last month, Hybels denied the sexual misconduct allegations against him, which include a consensual affair with a married woman, who retracted her claims. The Tribune report also alleged a pattern of behavior against Hybels that includes suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss, and invitations to some of the women to hotel rooms. Investigations commissioned by the church, however, could not substantiate the allegations.
Ortberg argued that Hybels was approached about the allegations against him prior to the investigation.
“An independent investigation by an outside, trained expert should have been thoroughly carried out before the senior pastor was first approached. To my knowledge that did not happen. The firm chosen to investigate (more than a year after the first report) is one that, as stated on their website, ‘exclusively represents management. Of course, both sides of an accusation deserve a hearing and fair representation, but a firm that is retained by one side, and whose principal work is to represent one side in such disputes, cannot be considered independent,” Ortberg explained.
He said when he and others raised these concerns directly with Willow Creek attorneys, they proceeded with the investigation anyway.
“As a result, I believe they failed to discover and thoroughly investigate important information. I and others were left with the painful decision to not participate in a process I believed lacked genuine independence and credibility,” he said. DISCLAIMER