Report: Sex Abuse Claims Substantiated Against Founder of Grace College’s Music Department

By Sarah Einselen
ogden grace
Don Ogden, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 88, was the founder of the music department at Grace College & Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. (Photo via Facebook)

An investigation has substantiated sexual abuse allegations against the late founder of the music department at Grace College and Theological Seminary in northern Indiana, according to an investigation brief obtained by The Roys Report (TRR).

As The Christian Post first reported on Wednesday, the longtime music director at Grace College, Donald Ogden, had an estimated 100 to 200 male abuse victims during his decades-long tenure at the college, his daughters allege.

The women, whose maiden names are Diane and Kathleen Ogden, reported the alleged abuse to Grace College in 2021. This prompted the school to hire an independent investigator, Campus and Workplace Solutions.

According to a two-page brief released by Grace, the firm’s investigation substantiated sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against Ogden from 1960 to 1990. The brief also revealed cover-up by some employees at the school.

“The investigation also revealed that some former employees had knowledge of the misconduct and failed to appropriately respond to the information at the time,” the brief states.

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It’s unclear how many alleged victims the investigation found or how many college employees were implicated. The brief states in a footnote that “twelve of the alumni interviewed indicated they witnessed or experienced Mr. Ogden’s sexual misconduct.”

Carrie Yocum, the college’s Title IX coordinator, said the investigation only covered allegations involving students. None of the alumni who participated in the investigation said they reported alleged misconduct to college representatives at the time, she said. The college hasn’t received any more reports of misconduct by Ogden or any other current or former employees since the investigation, according to Yocum.

Ogden’s daughters claim in a letter obtained by TRR that the investigation did not reveal the full extent of their father’s abuse.

The investigation relied on surveys sent to only music students at Grace, the women state. But “there are reports of him molesting at Brethren Youth conference, on Timothy Teams Grace sent out, and malls around the country,” Ogden’s daughters write. “He was also involved in boys clubs at church, Riverwood Ranch, male slumber parties in our home, and activities in local churches . . .”

grace college ogden
Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana (Photo via Facebook)

“Grace College condemns all forms of sexual harassment, which has no place in a God-honoring community such as ours,” the college stated in response to TRR’s initial inquiry. “A respected member of the school and community betrayed the trust placed in him by students and families. We are deeply sorry this happened.”

The statement adds that the college “is committed to acknowledging the pain of Mr. Ogden’s actions, protecting our campus community, and preventing future misconduct.”

The investigation brief is dated June 15, but is not posted anywhere on Grace College’s website. Yocum said that was because the college is “focused on protecting the privacy of the survivors.” She added that the college “communicated directly, proactively, and thoroughly to those involved in the investigation and to Grace College staff, students, alumni and community members.”

Past abuse overlooked

Ogden was employed at Grace College from 1950 until 1993, according to the college’s statement. A college publication indicates he retired.

In 1993, a news report shows Ogden was arrested in Kansas after a 16-year-old boy accused Ogden of kidnapping and sodomizing him. The investigation brief states Ogden’s arrest took place while he was on a work trip for the college’s alumni department.

A March 15, 1993, article in The Hutchinson News obtained by TRR reports Ogden was jailed on suspicion of aggravated sodomy. But he was not prosecuted, the investigation brief stated.

Ogden was also reportedly a leader at Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, near the college, when he was arrested. Christian Post reported Ogden wrote a letter over a year after his arrest in which he confessed to a sanitized version of his alleged misconduct.

Winona Lake Grace Brethren’s pastor at the time assured church members in another letter published by Christian Post that Ogden’s confession was “accurate and complete in scope.”

Ogden’s daughters wrote in their letter that they learned about the allegations last year and confronted church and college leaders. They accuse both the college and the church of covering up their father’s alleged misconduct.

Ogden “recruited students for decades and was the reason they had thousands and thousands of dollars coming in from donors,” the sisters wrote. “When your school and church’s reputation relies on one person there is a great temptation to literally lie for Jesus.”

Kip Cone, the church’s lead pastor, did not immediately respond when TRR asked for a response to the women’s allegation. He reportedly told Christian Post that the church failed to properly investigate after Ogden’s 1993 arrest.

Winona Lake Grace Brethren has since written to men involved in the church’s music ministry currently or in the past, Cone told Christian Post. He added the church has not heard back from any men who say Ogden abused them.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a response received from Grace College after publication.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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4 thoughts on “Report: Sex Abuse Claims Substantiated Against Founder of Grace College’s Music Department”

  1. This is so heartbreaking. I attended Grace & WLGB about a decade after this happened. I expected better of both of them. But good for his daughters for bringing this to light.

  2. Perhaps if Christian organizations of all stripes would wake up and acknowledge that wolves are drawn to sheep, not their fellow wolves, that bifurcated verse about wisdom and innocence would be more fully realized in our institutions.

    “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

  3. Karen D Stephenson

    In my opinion, the ones who covered this up did just as much harm and damage as Mr. Odgen. Truth always wins and these facility members should have known better, just like Mr. Odgen. The daughters were so brave to expose their father. What a terribly hard thing to do. I’ll be praying for all involved.

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