Bolivian Missionary DeVall to Return to the US
On Christmas Eve in 1993 while attending Bob Jones University, Richard DeVall raped a young woman. His victim, having grown up in Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) circles, stated "...you [were taught to] protect those who are pastors and missionaries...". At the time, she had no idea there are avenues to report abuse. Such thinking is quickly hidden and squelched in the IFB movement. Information is power and all information is channeled through the pulpit or the "man of God".
Mr. DeVall continued in ministry for the next twenty years. We have no idea if Richard DeVall struck again, but statistics show that the odds of a predator re-offending - especially when they see no consequences - is extremely high. He stated that he felt "called of God" to go to the mission field in Bolivia to work as pastor, a girls' basketball coach, and head of an orphanage. with an orphanage. In 2011, he was one of the subjects of the infamous GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment) investigation, which led Bob Jones University (a conservative Christian college) to implement strict reporting and independent investigation policies.
In May 2012, his first known victim, assisted by a counsellor and the GRACE team, filed a police report with the Greenville County Sheriff's Department in SC. Ex-Pastor Paul Kingsbury was contacted in an attempt to reach Devall. After numerous attempts, DeVall finally sent a letter, through Kingsbury, acknowledging his crime.
Soon after the initial police report had been filed, DeVall came back to the US on furlough. Law enforcement officials asked to interview him during this time. However, when Pastor Kingsbury found the police were trying to investigate, DeVall was whisked back to Bolivia.
Kingsbury stated to the congregation that DeVall had to leave for the mission field quickly. Then, proceeded to ask for donations of money and luggage to facilitate the "emergency". DeVall remained in Bolivia till 2019 where he briefly returned to the US. He has been in Bolivia ever since.
Lt. Ryan Flood, a Public Information Officer for the Greenville Sheriff's Department stated, "DeVall has been a person of interest from the get-go, one we have not been able to make contact with, and are still looking to establish contact with, in reference to this investigation."
In a 2013 statement, Baptist Pioneer Mission Agency acknowledged that DeVall's actions constituted rape but the mission board did not believe he was at risk for reoffending. Multiple studies have shown that one out of four convicted sex offenders is rearrested for another sex crime in less than fifteen years. BPMA went on to state, "...This didn't happen on our watch. The missionaries that serve with us, really we're an agency and we handle their money, but they are sent out of a local church..."
The Baptist Pioneer Mission Agency avoided answering any questions regarding whether they had any problem affiliating with an admitted rapist.
North Love Baptist Church still supports and shelters DeVall. The church also refuses to acknowledge the abuse. As of this writing, over twenty victims are working with law enforcement to hold these abusers and enablers of abusers accountable. Paul Kingsbury has resigned, Reformers Unanimous Chapters are closing and opting for alternative Christian addiction recovery curriculum, and investigations are uncovering more recent problems.
Several former members are pushing for justice. They have assisted the police and have spoken with many victims. An organized rally to bring awareness to the DeVall rape case was organized and one day prior to the advertised protest, Pastor Haese of NLBC personally called the event organizer.
Pastor Ron Haese stated that Richard DeVall is coming home as quickly as possible but refused to give a definite time or date. Given the history of this church’s leadership, it's doubtful they will fully cooperate unless pushed into a corner.
This is a developing story.