Woman says pastor sexually abused her at 14. Now he’s in ministry at IHOP of Kansas City

By Judy L. Thomas
Kansas City Star
February 24, 2018

A Washington woman says a former youth pastor sexually abused her 30 years ago when she was 14. Despite acknowledging the misdeed, she says, he continues to work in ministry — now at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City.

Brad Tebbutt was a 27-year-old youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Modesto, Calif., when the abuse began, Jennifer Graves Roach told The Modesto Bee in a story published Saturday. Roach told The Bee that Tebbutt consoled her when her father died, then sexually abused her over the next 2½ years in his church office, his car and his home while his wife was at work.

Tebbutt, who now lives in the Kansas City area, works in a ministry at IHOP for people in their 50s and above, according to his bio. When asked for a response, an IHOP spokesman emailed The Star a document titled “Our approach to handling sensitive information about a person’s sin or other wrongdoing.”

“We take sin seriously, but we also take redemption seriously,” it says. “We care about both.”

But on Friday morning, a day after The Star reached out to IHOP for comment, an official emailed Roach, saying he wanted “to make contact with you re: events that took place between you and Brad Tebbutt 30 yrs ago.”

“Recently, Brad did make us aware of the details around these events and did provide information of a psychologist practitioner with whom he completed an 18-month repentance and restoration process,” wrote Dale Anderson, director of the pastoral support team at IHOP’s Forerunner Christian Fellowship, in an email Roach shared with The Bee. “We have talked with Brad and the practitioner to confirm this. Brad continues to express deep sadness and sorrow over his actions, and does hope you have been able to find comfort, healing and wholeness in your journey of recovery. He continues to be humble and repentant.”

Anderson told Roach that “we have been made aware of a developing story in the news media” and that “if it is the case that it is the media driving the story, then we always have a policy of no comment in public as we seek private resolution.” He said that “we would welcome a conversation with you regarding this matter and we want to serve you in any way that will bring greater healing and resolution.”

Tebbutt’s bio says he has been married for 36 years and has two children. He leads the Simeon Company Internship at IHOPKC, described as “a training experience and mentoring community for those 50 and older” who “desire to give their lives more fully to prayer, worship, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, outreach, and works of justice.” Prior to coming to IHOP, his bio says, Tebbutt was involved in youth ministry for more than 30 years.

Founded in 1999, the International House of Prayer is a 24/7 mission with its world headquarters on Red Bridge Road in Kansas City.

Roach recently contacted The Bee, emboldened by the #MeToo movement and saying it was time to break the silence. She said that after Tebbutt and his wife moved away in 1988, she confided in another youth pastor at the church. That pastor told the church’s high school pastor, who confirmed to The Bee that he had contacted Tebbutt after Roach reported the abuse and that Tebbutt had confessed. The Bee said it was unclear whether Tebbutt was disciplined because he did not respond to multiple requests for an interview and the pastor who said Tebbutt had confessed to him did not answer that specific question.

Roach, now 47, is married and has a teenage son. She’s been ordained in the Anglican Church and works as a therapist whose clients include sexual abuse victims.

She told The Bee that when she initially came forward, church leaders at first didn’t believe her, then told her to forgive and forget and never talk about it again. She said they never told her mother or reported it to police.

“They gave me specific directions to never speak of the events to anyone, because it would damage the reputation of the church, and of Jesus himself,” she told The Bee. “The abuse was swept under the rug.”

First Baptist, a prominent Modesto congregation, changed to CrossPoint Community Church in 2010.

In a letter to The Bee, Marvin Jacobo, the former Modesto pastor who confronted Tebbutt, said he did not go to police at the time because Roach did not want to press charges.

He added that Roach accepted Tebbutt’s apology and seemed satisfied with the process.

“I feel like we did everything we knew to do in addressing it,” he told The Bee. “If she now feels this was insufficient, then we sincerely apologize.”

Roach told The Bee that Tebbutt wrote her a lengthy letter in 2005 acknowledging that he had sexually abused her and saying that “I grieve over this.”

But Roach questioned how he could continue in ministry for three decades after abusing a minor for 2½ years.

“If you touch kids, you’ve taken yourself out of the pile of people that get to call themselves ministers,” she told The Bee. “You’ve disqualified yourself.”

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