Dallas Theological Seminary Response to the Dallas Morning News Article on Warnshuis Victim Lawsuit
In August 2001, when Jon Warnshuis’ crimes of abuse first came to light, Dallas Theological Seminary was shocked and deeply concerned by the news. Mostly though, we were saddened and grieved by the horrible harm he had inflicted upon his victims. Dallas Theological Seminary has expressed in the past, and continues to express, our sympathy to the victims of Jon Warnshuis, and as Christians we are concerned for their emotional and physical wellbeing.
That being said, we would like to address the recent article in the Dallas Morning News about this case, including the most recent lawsuit, and correct some inaccuracies and factual omissions.
Mr. Jon Warnshuis completed his education and requirements for his degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) in 1988. Due to a reported problem involving a young man at a church where Warnshuis was serving, he was denied graduation in 1988. There was never any report of any sexual abuse only allegations of inappropriate behavior. When Dr. Don Campbell, President of DTS at that time, was told by the concerned father of the situation, he called an immediate meeting. Those who attended the meeting included President Campbell, Warnshuis, Chaplain Bryan, and the concerned father. At the meeting, Warnshuis was told that he would not be graduating. Furthermore, during that meeting there were no discussions of or promises of graduation to Warnshuis at any time, and he was immediately removed from the graduation list. The allegation of the inappropriate behavior was received the day before Warnshuis was to graduate and the meeting occurred the day Warnshuis was to receive his degree.
Further, at the end of the meeting, President Campbell told Warnshuis that he needed and should get help. Several days after the meeting, Warnshuis sought out and received counseling from Dr. Stephen Ash, a local psychologist. Warnshuis paid for his counseling and attended counseling for almost four years. Again, this was not part of any deal or discussion promising a future graduation.
As an institution of higher education, DTS is not always aware of what transpires in the lives of our students and alumni when they are not participating in their education. However, when allegations are made, we make every effort to investigate any reports and handle them appropriately. Contrary to what has been articulated in the article, when the initial allegation was received, DTS desired to report the incident to the local authorities. President Campbell immediately sought legal counsel and was told that the law (as it existed in 1988) did not require any report be made even though DTS desired to do so. Moreover, the father who reported the problem did not want a report to be filed either.
Dr. Ash provided three or four reports of the counseling sessions to DTS even though not required or requested by DTS. In early 1992, Dr. Ash, unsolicited, wrote to DTS stating that Warnshuis had made significant progress, had adequately dealt with the issues in his life, and opined that he should receive his degree. He also wrote a follow-up letter confirming his prior letter. After much discussion, and no further allegations or information on the incident in question, DTS decided to give Warnshuis his diploma in May 1992, after confirming the decision with several individuals knowledgeable of the situation, including the father who had made the initial report four years earlier.
Again, contrary to what has been articulated in the article, since Warnshuis’ graduation, DTS has never provided any reference or recommendation concerning Warnshuis to any church, including the church in Arygle, and was not aware of his service there.
DTS has settled each of the claims made. Each and every settlement agreement of related lawsuits has contained a “no admission of liability” provision on behalf of DTS. The Argyle church, where Warnshuis served, was also sued in each of the lawsuits against DTS. The claims against the church were also settled.
DTS has and continues to take issues of violence and abuse of any sort very seriously. Every claim that comes to light is investigated, and the institution has robust policies in place to deal with these situations. It has always been our desire to teach truth and love well. Our prayers go out to all of Warnshuis’ victims for the pain and suffering they were subjected to.