Hillcrest School issues statement about former principal

Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria, has issued a statement about former principal James McDowell’s admission of having molested students. He was principal from 1974-1984. He made the admission in a Facebook post on April 15.

McDowell was not a Church of the Brethren mission worker. He worked for one of the other missions, known as cooperating bodies, that participated in the board of the school. During his tenure, there were children of Church of the Brethren mission families attending Hillcrest.

An April 16 statement on the school’s blogsite, signed by Hillcrest superintendent Anne Lucasse and board chair John Brown, said in part: “We are working with the Child Safety Protection Network (an international organization, of which Hillcrest is a member, dedicated to the safeguarding of students), members of the Board of Governors, Mr. McDowell’s mission and current Hillcrest Administration to address the issue of Mr. McDowell’s past abuse of students.

“Hillcrest actively works to protect our students from any abuse. Since January 2015, Hillcrest has implemented and robustly used our Student Protection policy and protocols to: guard our students from threats of abuse, teach our students what abuse is and how, no matter how old they are, to fight against any abuse, and support teachers from false claims. We are committed to act with transparency and accountability.”

A group of alumni is calling for McDowell to turn himself in to local authorities where he lives in Canada.

Hillcrest was founded by the Church of the Brethren as a mission school in 1942. By 1955 it had become an ecumenical endeavor as several other mission groups joined in. Today it is an international Christian school, owned and operated by a board of governors representing the cooperating bodies involved.

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