GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Bob Jones University in South Carolina said it regrets not encouraging a teenager to go to police after she said she was sexually assaulted on campus by a former pastor.
The woman reported the assaults in 2005, saying four years earlier when she was 16, a then 37-year-old pastor took her to a university-owned apartment while visiting Greenville and attacked her, The Greenville News reported.
Jonathan Alan Weaver, 56, was charged last month by Greenville Police with two counts of first-degree assault and battery. South Carolina does not have a statute of limitations for any criminal offense.
The girl went to Hyde Park Baptist Church in New York, where Weaver was a pastor, the newspaper reported.
Bob Jones University reviewed its actions after Weaver’s arrest and concluded school officials should have encouraged the girl to notify police, spokesman Randy Page said.
“In the intervening years, we have learned much about how to assist women who experience trauma as a result of sexual abuse and/or assault. We would handle this situation much differently if it were to happen today,” Page said in a statement to the newspaper.
Page said the conservative Christian university applauds the woman’s courage and bravery to report the abuse.
The school prays “that she and her family may find comfort and peace in the days ahead,” Page said.
Weaver is a 1986 Bob Jones University graduate, the school said.
Weaver’s lawyer, Lucas Marchant, declined to comment to the newspaper.
Bob Jones University released a report in 2014 about its handling of sexual abuse allegations. The woman told the newspaper she was mentioned in the report as someone who was abused by her pastor since she was 15 years old and pregnant with his child.
The student was asked to withdraw from the university for lying about where she was when she used overnight passes, according to the report, which said a counselor with conflicting interests failed to see the pastor’s “manipulative and devastating actions.”
“She was the victim of a large scale campaign of abuse by a shepherd who preyed on his sheep,” the report said. “She needed compassion and grace but received neither.”