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Solicitor to investigate how Bob Jones University handled student reports of sexual abuse

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GREENVILLE, South Carolina — A South Carolina solicitor says he will look into how Bob Jones University handled sexual abuse reports from students to determine if state law was broken or if there was obstruction of justice.

The Greenville News reports (http://grnol.co/1A47Itt) Solicitor Walt Wilkins also hopes anyone who wants to prosecute abuse will contact his office.

Wilkins' investigation stems from a report issued Thursday by a Lynchburg, Virginia, group that works with churches and other Christian organizations on the proper ways to prevent abuse and how to work with victims. According to GRACE, the teachings of the university as well as counseling served to re-victimize students.

There were also reports from victims that they were discouraged and in some instances told not to contact law enforcement about what had happened to them.

"If they were convincing individuals not to report crimes that could be considered obstruction of justice," Wilkins said. "We need to see if it rises to that level."

In addition, he said he wants to look into whether South Carolina's mandatory reporting law was violated. The law has been updated many times since it was first passed in the 1970s, but now requires that people in a number of professions such as doctors and teachers report to law enforcement all cases of child abuse that comes to their attention.

Wilkins said he needed to do more research because the law is unclear about whether a mandatory reporter needs to contact law enforcement if they learn from an adult that they were abused as a child. Many of the cases recounted in the GRACE report would fall into that category.

An independent report on how Bob Jones University has dealt with sexual abuse over several decades concluded that university employees weren't properly trained to handle such cases.


Information from: The Greenville News, http://www.greenvillenews.com

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