Samantha Field’s guest post here about sexual abuse at Pensacola Christian College has gotten some attention — with more than 90,000 of you sharing it on social media (thank you!).
It’s even gotten the attention of Pensacola Christian College. While she was writing and researching her piece, Field tried hard to get a response from school officials, but received only a bunch of no-comments and referrals to the school’s PR officer, Amy Glenn, who said only that PCC does not respond to “blog-type articles.”
Well, now they do. Yesterday, the college posted this “March 2014 Response to Allegations“:
Pensacola Christian College is being harassed and victimized through recent online accounts. We have no way of verifying the unverifiable stories, but an exhaustive review of our records has revealed nothing to support these claims. Not only were such incidents never reported, but we categorically deny that any student has ever been expelled from PCC for being a victim of rape or any other crime.
The internet provides an open forum that allows unfounded assertions to be spread without proof. There seems to be no defense against such attacks getting started when someone has an agenda.
While we cannot speak for how well other institutions respond to victims of crime, PCC has upheld the law, will continue to uphold the law, reports criminal acts when we are made knowledgeable of them, and fully cooperates with any investigation. Further, the college, its administration, and counseling staff stand ready to support and assist victims.
Yes, you read that right — the stories told by Beth and David and Whitney and Samantha mean that it’s PCC that is being “victimized.” They’re the victims here.
Notice also that PCC’s “exhaustive review” of its records did not include reaching out to any of its former students or alumni.
Notice too the utter absence of the slightest concern for the wellbeing of its former students and alumni. Notice the lack of any trace of sadness at what these young people say happened to them while at PCC. Pensacola Christian College’s “response” doesn’t give a flying fig about those students. The school doesn’t care about what happens to its students — only that no one speak of such things publicly in a way that might harm the institution’s reputation.That’s, you know, kind of evil.
It also essentially confirms one central point in the post here that has PCC so upset. In that post, several former Pensacola Christian College students testified that the school did not care about what happened to them. PCC’s official response is to affirm that, indeed, it does not care about what those students say happened to them.
That’s some straight-up cold-hearted ugly.
The CYA boilerplate of that final paragraph in Pensacola’s response is also pretty underwhelming. It echoes the recent public statements from Mark Driscoll’s church, which defended its actions as “not uncommon or illegal.” In Pensacola’s case, former student’s are saying this claim isn’t true — they’re saying that the school, in fact, has not upheld the law and has failed to report criminal acts when learning of them. But even if we accept PCC’s claim that all of those students are mistaken, how fussed-up is it that PCC thinks they deserve a cookie for meeting the absolute minimum moral standard of technical legal compliance?
Read that “response” again, though, and you’ll see that PCC isn’t claiming it’s former students are merely mistaken. It is saying those students are lying. They are “attacking” and “harassing” and “victimizing” the school because of some unstated nefarious “agenda.”
That is Pensacola’s response to hearing — it claims for the first time — that some of the young people in its care have been assaulted and abused. It’s response is to attack those young people, to denounce them as liars and enemies of all that is good.
Pensacola’s response is not uncommon or illegal. We’ve seen many other institutions bare their fangs in that very same defensive crouch. We’ve seen it from dioceses and politicians and football programs. And in almost every case where we’ve seen this kind of response we’ve later learned that not only were all the allegations being denied true, but they were only the tip of the iceberg.
In other words, it would be very unusual to see that sort of response from an institution that didn’t fully know that it had a great deal to hide.