I personally had never heard of Kanakuk Kamps before this. However, unknowingly my wife and I spent fourteen years with an independent Baptist mission agency that for years covered up an adulterer/pedophile on the mission field so this is all too believable. We didn’t learn about the adulterer/pedophile doctor until years after resigning from this mission so organizations do have a bent to cover-up sin.
‘Kanakuk Kamps is one of the largest Christian camps in the nation. Each summer, more than 20,000 kids from age 7-17 pay thousands of dollars each to stay at the camp in southwestern Missouri. Some of the most prominent leaders in the evangelical world have worked with the camp and its leaders, Joe and Debbie-Jo White.
But a new website, called FactsAboutKanakuk.com claims that “Kanakuk’s reputation and reach conceals a dark secret. For decades, Joe White and other camp leaders knew about and facilitated sexual abuse against scores of children.”
The website, which went live on Saturday, includes links to court documents for six lawsuits in which Kanakuk and senior staff members, including Joe White, were names as defendants. The website maintains that “non-disclosure agreements and significant financial settlements have concealed the truth in order to preserve a ministry brand and economic engine.”
Kanakuk Kamps and related non-profit organizations brought in about $35-million in 2018, the most recent year available. It had a profit (revenue over expenses) of more than $8-million. According to an analysis of Form 990s from 2014-2018 by MinistryWatch, Joe and Debbie-Jo White receive payments from Kanakuk – payments that include salary, rent payments for real estate they own, and other compensation – that usually top $500,000 per year, and some years top $700,000.
The FactsAboutKanakuk website also has a petition demanding that individuals and families who have settled with the camp be released from any non-disclosure agreements or “similar clauses.” MinistryWatch is on record opposing the use of non-disclosure agreements in ministry settings.
One of the lawsuits filed by “John Doe IX” against Kanakuk and a senior staff member, Peter Newman, resulted in a judgment for the plaintiff for nearly $20-million in 2018. According to the Springfield News Leader, “The judgment ranked as the largest reported plaintiff’s judgment in Missouri in 2018.” However, it is not clear that the settlement has actually been paid by either Kanakuk or Peter Newman, who is now serving a life sentence for multiple counts of sexual abuse perpetrated when he was a senior member of Kanakuk’s staff.
Repeated calls by MinistryWatch to Douglas, Haun, and Heidemann, the law firm that represented the plaintiff, to determine if either Peter Newman or Kanakuk had paid the plaintiff, “John Doe IX,” have gone unanswered.
Kanakuk Kamps told MinistryWatch that, in part in response to past troubles, it has adopted new youth protection policies. Current seasonal staff undergo two days of training on sexual abuse and youth protection policies. Their current policies are outlined here and here.’https://julieroys.com/kanakuk-kamps-sexual-abuse/?mc_cid=3105d8da45&mc_eid=b13d34ad49
Then there is this undisputable page listing those affiliated with Kanakuk and convicted of sex offences.
‘Kanakuk’s Convicted Sex Offenders
The following is an evolving roster of former Kanakuk staff and associates who have been convicted of sexual abuse of minors since Joe and Debbie-Jo White assumed leadership of the camp. Only convictions according to verdicts and judgments from the criminal justice system are listed, although it is believed that additional former staff members may be subject to similar charges as investigations and civil litigation proceed and as victims continue to come forward.
The average age of victims who finally report childhood sexual abuse is about 52 years old. Only 23% to 33% of victims disclose their sexual abuse during childhood, and only 6% to 15% of victims ever disclose those assaults to law enforcement. Males are more reluctant and take longer to make full disclosures. The extent of damage done to campers who attended Kanakuk Kamps and its programs will likely not be known for many years.
If you were abused at Kanakuk Kamps or have more information, please submit a Contact Form.
Bradberry was a Kanakuk Kamps counselor in the summer of 2011 after the camp had implemented and promoted its Kanakuk Child Protection Plan. Arrested the following year for sexual abuse of young boys, he was sentenced in 2013 to four years for sexual misconduct involving a child under 14, seven years for statutory sodomy, and two 10-year sentences for child molestation, to be served concurrently. He is serving those sentences in a Kentucky correctional center. Bradberry is expected to be released in 2023.
Corbie Dale Grimes
Grimes was a Kanakuk Kamps counselor in 1987. He was terminated after being caught for sexual misconduct with campers, but the incidents were not reported by the camp to law enforcement as mandated by state law. As a result, Grimes went on to work in youth ministry, was caught abusing children as a youth pastor at another institution, and was finally convicted of sexual abuse in Florida in 2002.
A staff member at Kanakuk Kamps from 1998 to 2005, Kerr was arrested in Colorado in 2011 for the abuse of adolescent girls. After pleading guilty to multiple charges, he received 45 days in jail and 10 years of sex offender probation. It is unknown if he engaged in sexual misconduct while at Kanakuk Kamps.
If you were abused by Paul Kerr or have more information, please submit a Contact Form.
Robert John Morgan
A pilot for the private plane used by Joe White, Morgan was charged with sexual abuse of his biological child in 2000. White invited him to stay on Kanakuk grounds while awaiting trial. White later testified for Morgan’s defense as a character witness, stating that he would have no problem allowing the man to babysit his own children and encouraging the judge not to imprison him. It is unknown if Morgan abused any campers during his multiple years of affiliation with Kanakuk and his off-season residence on camp property.
Morgan was found guilty of statutory sodomy in 2009 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was released in 2019.
Peter Daniel Newman
Newman was hired as a Kanakuk counselor in 1995. He moved up through the ranks as a father-son retreat leader, assistant director and ultimately the director of K-Kountry. Frequently used by the organization for marketing and promotional purposes, Newman was arrested in 2009 and pled guilty to two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, three counts of second-degree statutory sodomy, and three counts of enticement of a child. A prosecutor in the case stated that Newman “is the most prolific child molester I have ever dealt with.” In 2010, Newman received two life sentences plus 30 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. The subject of multiple civil lawsuits, there were at least 57 alleged victims of Newman prior to his arrest, but the total number of campers abused by him remains unknown.
Ringheim was a counselor for K-1 and volunteered with the K-Life Orlando program. He was accused of criminal misconduct that occurred in 2008 and 2011. He regularly chaperoned bus trips to Kanakuk’s Missouri camps and other activities, with the intent to groom and molest children. He was ultimately charged with seven felony sex crimes against underage boys. He was arrested in 2011, was found guilty of seven felony sex charges involving underage boys, and was sentenced to 15 years in Florida state prison. He is expected to be released in 2031.’ https://factsaboutkanakuk.com/known-abusers/