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USA News

Pentecostal People of Praise official acknowledges mishandling of abuse in Christian school

by Premier Journalist

In an email, the leadership of the Christian group People of Praise has determined that they did mishandle a student's allegations of sexual abuse.

People of Praise is a charismatic religious community with "intentional communities" worldwide. The majority of members are considered Catholic, although Protestants can join. Initially founded in 1971, the organization has been integral in forming the Catholic Charismatic Movement. The organization claims around 1,700 members spread across 22 campuses in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

In July 2021, the Washington Post released an in-depth investigation delving into the claims of Katie Logan. Logan had attended Trinity School at River Ridge, a private Christian school in Eagan, MN, and run by the People of Praise. While a student, Logan claimed she was sexually assaulted by her physics teacher in 2001. While Logan handed over the report to school officials, the staff member in question was left in their position several years after the revelation. Logan soon found other survivors through a Facebook group, with several sharing details publicly. When these reports of abuse went public, the People of Praise were stunned. Craig Lent, chairman of the People of Praise's board of governors, said that the board of trustees would review the finding and take appropriate action.

In an email released by the Post, former school official Jon Balsbaugh recognized their mishandling of abuse in the past. "Trinity School as an organization did not respond to and handle earlier reports…the way that we would handle such reports today or that we want such matters to be handled," Balbaugh writes in the email. "We wish we could go back in time and handle things differently." Balsbaugh served as the president of the board at Trinity School at River Ridge between 2015 and 2017. 

Balsbaugh told the Post that if such an allegation had been made today, it would be sent immediately to law enforcement and child protective services while the accused is on administrative leave. "We are creating more robust policies and procedures for receiving, investigating, and addressing reports of sexual misconduct and other forms of abuse," Balsbaugh told the Post.

The People of Praise organization has been under scrutiny since 2020 when the media discovered that Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett had roots in the organization

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