Second woman accuses evangelical leader in Kansas City of sexual abuse, church apologizes

USA Today [McLean VA]

February 9, 2024

By Natalie Neysa Alund

The former leader of the International House of Prayer Kansas City is facing another sexual abuse allegation – this time for a teenager whose family attended his church more than 20 years ago.

The accusation, first reported by the Kansas City Star, came the same week the church apologized for its delayed response to an initial sex abuse claim filed against the minister this past fall by a woman who said she was 19 when he reportedly assaulted her.

Mike Bickle, 68, allegedly molested his former babysitter Tammy Woods, whose family attended his church in St. Louis before he started the 24/7 global prayer ministry, the outlet reported Thursday.

Woods is among at least two people who claim the minister sexually abused them when they were teenagers.

The first person to publicly claim Bickle molested her came forward in October with accusations dating back to the late 1990s.

In a Thursday post on its IHOPKC’s website, the Kansas City-based church wrote it was grief-stricken with the latest news. The group said its leaders believe both women’s claims and publicly apologized.

‘His predatory and abusive actions are sick’

In late December, the church announced it was permanently separating from Bickle amid his initial sex abuse allegations after a woman identified as Jane Doe came forward with accusations in October.

“We believe that Mike Bickle sexually abused and manipulated Jane Doe and Tammy Woods, who was a minor at the time,” the church posted on its webpage Thursday. “His predatory and abusive actions are sick and violate the Word of God, the marriage covenant.”

Bickle has not responded publicly to Woods’s claims and could not immediately be reached by USA TODAY Friday.

But in a signed letter posted to his Instagram page on Dec. 12, Bickle apologized to his wife, family and the church.

“I want to express how deeply grieved I am that my past sins led to so much pain, confusion and division,” he wrote in the post. “Some may wonder why I am just now making a public statement 20+ years later? It was because I was recently confronted about things I said or did 20+ years ago – things I believed were dealt with and under the blood of Jesus.”

He also admitted he “sinned by engaging in inappropriate behavior. My moral failures were real.”

(See original story for Mike Bickle’s statement)

The most recent sex abuse allegation

Woods, now 57, told the outlet the alleged abuse took place when she was age 14 when she was babysitter for Bickle’s two children.

She told the outlet it took place in the early 1980s in St. Louis, where Bickle pastored a church before moving to Kansas City where he later founded IHOPKC in 1999.

The woman told the outlet she decided to come forward with her story after hearing Jane Doe’s allegations several months ago and claimed the abuse occured in places including the church, Bickle’s home and in his car.

She told the Star it allegedly began with kissing, but progressed to fondling and Bickle moving on top of her ‘until he released.’  Prior to the alleged physical sexual abuse, Woods also recalled a detail the first victim shared: that Bickle told her he believed his wife would die and that they could be together.

“He also told me that Diane believes this, too.” Woods told the outlet.

Records obtained by USA TODAY Friday show it wasn’t until December that the church began to officially investigate Jane Doe’s claims.

The church’s investigative findings

According to a seven-page report released last week by the church, IHOPKC hired a investigative firm to look into Jane Doe’s abuse allegations against Bickle.

The report says it is based on interviews with people including four women allegedly abused by him including Jane Doe, and a review of documents provided by witnesses, including his Instagram post.

“I recall five occasions where I engaged in inappropriate behavior with (Jane Doe) which includes two occasions when we kissed,” Bickle said, according to the report. “We both repented and agreed that those actions were wrong. Our friendship has been entirely appropriate for decades, over which time I have received dozens of friendly emails from her] and spoke at her marriage ceremony over twenty years ago.”

The report does not mention Woods’ claims but goes on to say Bickle and his wife both said “she believed she would die young.”

“He said that he shared this comment with (the primary) Jane Doeand regrets doing so,” the report reads. “He stated that he did not tell anyone his wife was going to die and he would be with them or married to them.”

In the end, the report concluded the following:

“Based on all the credible evidence, including his own acknowledgements of contact with the two Jane Does over twenty years ago, it is more likely than not that (Bickle) engaged in inappropriate behavior including sexual contact and clergy misconduct, in an abuse of power for a person in a position of trust and leadership.”

IHOPKC apologizes for delayed response

This week the church apologized for not acting on the October claim sooner and said it “committed to do better.”

“Many in our community have been pained by our communications regarding these allegations,” its statement reads. “We are sorry we fell short in this area and left you feeling unseen, unheard and unappreciated. We thank you for your patience and perseverance in spite of our shortcomings.” As a leadership team, we are committed to do better.”

On Friday, Bickle’s profile remained on the church’s website.