Report: IHOPKC Hired Man Who Admitted ‘Inappropriate Touch’ of 16-Year-Old; Fails to ‘Prioritize the Wounded’

The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

November 21, 2023

By Rebecca Hopkins

The International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC) accepted a man into its internship in 2012 who admitted on his application that he had engaged in “inappropriate touch” with a 16-year-old in his youth ministry. That’s according to a 2019 investigative report by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which was recently leaked for the first time to that 16-year-old, who’s now 52, and then sent to The Roys Report (TRR).

The report claimed that IHOPKC has a culture of failing to “prioritize the wounded” and needs to investigate alleged incidents of sexual abuse by “other individuals associated with IHOP” that surfaced during GRACE’s investigation.

“(P)rioritizing the wounded means that institutional leaders engage in immediate, healthy, and transparent communications to encourage, pursue and care for those who are wounded and hurting,” the report states. “These issues must be addressed and GRACE recommends that these matters be promptly investigated. A failure to investigate and implement recommended changes is likely to result in continued missteps when handling and responding to misconduct issues at IHOP.”

IHOPKC hired GRACE in 2018 to investigate Brad Tebbutt, a former California youth minister, after news media contacted IHOPKC with allegations that Tebbutt had molested a teen girl in the 1980s, starting when she was 14.

The report found that Tebbutt “repeatedly exploited . . . the trust granted him” by the woman, identified elsewhere as Jennifer Roach. It also found that Tebbutt “minimizes or fails to appreciate the gravity of his potentially criminal . . . sinful behaviors.”

IHOPKC did not immediately respond to TRR’s questions, including what, if any, role Tebbutt currently holds at IHOPKC. However, according to a Kansas City Star article, he was still employed as a missionary at IHOPKC in 2022.

In 2019, GRACE gave its report to IHOPKC and recommended that the organization publicly release the report, but IHOPKC never did.

GRACE has a policy of releasing its reports not just to the organizations that hire GRACE, but also to victims who participate in its investigations. But in this case, the alleged victim, Jennifer Roach, did not participate in the investigation and did not receive the report, GRACE told TRR. However, on a recent The Roys Report (TRR) podcast, GRACE Executive Director Pete Singer stated GRACE’s policy of giving reports to victims without qualifying that the victim must participate in the investigation. This prompted Roach to complain publicly that she had not received the report.

Then, the report arrived in the mail in an unmarked envelope, Roach told TRR.

Robert Peters, GRACE’s director of institutional response, looked at the report to confirm it.

“We have not read through the entirety of what purports to be the leaked report, but the style and substance of what we have reviewed is consistent with GRACE reports from that timeframe,” said Peters.

Singer told TRR that GRACE was in the process of re-examining its four-year-old contract with IHOPKC to see if GRACE could release the report to Roach when the report was leaked.

The report is especially relevant now because IHOPKC is embroiled in a major controversy for its handling of allegations that IHOPKC founder Mike Bickle has engaged in clergy sexual abuse with multiple victims.

Several former IHOPKC staff and members have also complained that IHOPKC mishandled their reports of sexual assault by other IHOPKC employees.

TRR reached out to IHOPKC for comment but did not receive a reply by time of publishing.

IHOPKC hires admitted abuser

In 2012, Tebbutt applied to be an intern at IHOPKC. According to GRACE’s report, Tebbut answered a question on the application about whether he’d previously been accused of sexual or physical abuse by saying he had “moved outside of his marriage to find emotional fulfillment” with a 16-year-old girl which went “no further than inappropriate touch.”

In California, where this incident reportedly occurred, the age of consent is 18.

At the time of GRACE’s investigation of the Tebbutt case, Tebbutt and Roach were embroiled in a lawsuit Roach had brought against Tebbutt and the First Baptist Church of Modesto, Calif. Tebbutt and Roach declined to participate in GRACE’s investigation due to the pending lawsuit.

Roach later received a large settlement from First Baptist of Modesto for covering up abuse of her and others by pastors for years.

For its investigation, GRACE relied on a “fact sheet” Tebbutt had created from meetings with a psychologist, a polygraph he took in 2005, and letters and emails he exchanged with Roach, the report states.  

When Tebbutt was 28 and Roach was about 15, Tebbutt and his wife took a “parenting role” in Roach’s life when Tebbutt was an intern youth minister at First Baptist Church of Modesto, according to the report. Roach’s father had reportedly just died, and she was going through a tough break-up from a dating relationship.

Tebbutt’s account divulges inappropriate touching on several occasions, including his touching her breasts. He denied engaging in sexual intercourse with her, the report states.

However, Roach claimed in her lawsuit that Tebbutt fondled her and had sexual intercourse with her, beginning when she was 14, the report states.

Despite Tebbutt’s answer on the 2012 intern application, IHOPKC admitted him into its internship. Then in 2013, Tebbutt applied for a staff position and IHOPKC hired him. And in 2015, IHOPKC promoted Tebbutt to be director of its Simeon Company Internship where he oversaw interns, including female interns.

IHOPKC’s president in 2012 (Mike Bickle) was “inclusive,” and wanted to give people a “fresh start” and “second chance,” the report states. Those who looked at applications for internships weren’t well trained and were given authority to decide whether a matter was “resolved,” the report states. IHOPKC reportedly was also understaffed, which meant things could “fall through the cracks.”

Neither the 2013 staff application nor the 2015 leadership promotion process asked about past allegations of abuse, the report states, and Tebbutt didn’t disclose the allegation either.

In 2018, GRACE sent a survey to 311 people, including IHOPKC and Forerunner Church leaders, IHOPKC faculty, admin, and security staff, and past Simeon Company interns and received 193 responses. None of the responses indicated any sexual abuse by Tebbutt while serving at IHOPKC, the report stated.

In 2018, IHOPKC’s Chief Operating Officer interviewed Tebbutt about what happened with Roach. According to the report, Tebbutt said what occurred was “inappropriate” but more of an “emotional connection.” Tebbutt also reportedly said the interactions were “sexual” only in that they involved “kissing and (engaged in inappropriate touching).” According to Tebbutt, all the sexual contact was “above the clothes” and “nothing below the belt.”

GRACE determined in its report that Tebbutt had abused his authority with Roach at the Modesto Church and showed a pattern of concealing or minimizing information about past allegations while at IHOPKC.

GRACE noted that IHOPKC needed to close these “gaps” in the various application processes. GRACE also stated that “the attitudes, the culture, and the priorities” of an institution make the biggest difference regarding safety.

IHOPKC’s response prompts complaints by women

When GRACE began its investigation, IHOPKC decided not to put Tebbutt on administrative leave, the report states. This caused women within IHOPKC to complain. Later, IHOPKC changed course and moved him out of his role, pending the results of the investigation, the report states.

“One leader explained, ‘(The President) said if we should put (Mr. Tebbutt) on administrative leave, then it would communicate that we were not standing with/being loyal to (Mr. Tebbutt),’” the report stated.  “This IHOP leader noted, ‘I had a number of other women in the ministry and in my life that were like, ‘What the heck?’”

Former IHOPKC-member Sarah Markman was one of those women, she told TRR. She and her husband, John, started off as interns at IHOPKC in 2009 and were members of the IHOPKC’s Forerunner Church until 2019. John also held several positions at IHOPKC, including handling its finances until 2017.

Sarah Markman told TRR that she had previously been a victim of sexual abuse. So, in 2019, she wrote an email to then-IHOPKC executive leader Daniel Lim, urging IHOPKC to handle the Tebbutt case well.

“I believe that the way IHOP handles sexual abuse and wholeness, will either set the stage for restoration or give way to a cycle of unhealth,” Markman wrote. “As IHOP faces a reset, I would ask that the leadership would consider a very intentional strategy to not only change policies and procedures concerning sexual abuse, but also to address the culture. To be a voice for the victim. To be proactive in establishing a safe and transparent community. As I share in my questions below, I feel that Brad Tebbutt should have been asked to leave staff when this case surfaced.”

In March 2022, the Markmans followed up with a meeting with Stuart Greaves and Dave Sliker, members of IHOPKC’s executive leadership team. The Markmans told TRR that they told Greaves and Sliker that they didn’t believe IHOPKC should restore Tebbutt to staff.

The Markmans said both Greaves and Sliker told them they should enter a Matthew 18 process with Tebbutt if they didn’t believe he had taken full responsibility for his actions. The Markmans added that Greaves and Sliker said that the couple couldn’t continue their appeal to IHOPKC leaders until they first went to Tebbutt. 

John Markman told TRR that he tried to contact Tebbutt but wasn’t able to get Tebbutt’s contact info from those who worked closely with Tebbutt at IHOPKC.

TRR reached out to IHOPKC’s press office, requesting comment from Greaves and Sliker, but did not immediately receive a response.

GRACE recommends IHOPKC make changes

In its report, GRACE recommended IHOPKC fire Tebbutt if he doesn’t show repentance and a pattern of change. It also urged IHOPKC to notify Tebbutt’s past employers of his alleged past sexually abusive behavior.

In addition, GRACE advised IHOPKC to create a safeguarding committee, which would train staff in sexual offender dynamics, report sexual misconduct allegations to law enforcement, and review sexual misconduct policies.

TRR reached out to IHOPKC’s press office to ask if IHOPKC had implemented any of the recommendations, including instituting the safeguarding committee. The press office did not immediately respond.

“Environments that draw vulnerable people must be places that prioritize the abused, not the abuser,” the report states. “Prioritizing the wounded and vulnerable, which is at the heart of the gospel message, must be a part of every institution’s DNA.”

GRACE Report on Brad Tebbutt Investigation Prepared for IHOPKC – Jan. 31, 2019

See the original article for the report.