RCMP say they can't open an investigation into sexual abuse allegations connected with a Bible college in Alberta until victims come forward.
The Mounties made the announcment on Sunday after the Prairie Bible Institute (PBI) located in Three Hills publicly notified the RCMP about abuse allegations dating back decades. Through a statement on its website, the school says the allegations were made by people connected with the college who are no longer based there.
In the statement, PBI president Mark Maxwell says they have turned over a file of the allegations to the RCMP and will fully co-operate with any further investigation. The statement does not specify whom the allegations have been made against.
RCMP spokesperson Doris Stapleton said it was her understanding that one person had come forward alleging abuse, but it is not directly connected to the college.
"There has been an allegation of a historic sexual assault," Stapleton said.
Former PBI student Linda Fossen, who now lives in Florida, filed the abuse complaint with RCMP.
Stapleton said since it is a domestic abuse case, an investigation into abuse claims from other PBI students can't be opened until the alleged victims report it to the RCMP.
Book spurs more allegations
Fossen alleges her abuse began in the early 1960s at her farm house in southern Minnesota at the hands of someone who later attended PBI and worked there part-time during the summer.
She later wrote a book about the alleged sexual abuse and, once public, said she was contacted by roughly 80 other former PBI alumni who said they had also been abused. Fossen said today she is an advocate against sexual abuse and has a website dedicated to the cause.
"I’ve heard a lot of stories … some of the worst stories I have ever heard come from Prairie," Fossen told CBC News.
She also met many alleged victims through a Facebook page for Prairie alumni called We Were Prairie Bible School Kids.
Fossen says she's encouraged several people to contact RCMP about allegations of sexual abuse.
PBI was founded in 1922, when its founder, L.E. Maxwell, taught the Bible to eight local farm children. It subsequently grew to include a ministry for mission preparation, a technical college and an aviation school. The institute boasts 16,000 alumni in 114 countries.
Mark Maxwell, the grandson of the school's founder, said his goal in dealing with the allegations is to be "open and accessible."
"In partnership with our students, faculty, staff and alumni, our objective is to provide a school environment that is healthy and vibrant, giving life to all who come our way," he said in the website statement.
PBI said in an email Saturday its president would speak more about the situation on Monday.