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Blue Springs school district talks next steps as women recall alleged experiences with Bobby Hawk

Posted: 5:55 PM, Jul 09, 2024
Updated: 2024-07-09 23:21:01-04
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time since the resignation of board president Bobby Hawk, the Blue Springs School District's Board of Education met Monday night to discuss its next steps.

"I wanted to assure you that we are steadfast in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students and staff; The Board of Education remains dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of integrity and trust while being as transparent as possible about the next steps in reorganization," the school board said Monday night.

On Wednesday, several additional women have called a news conference to speak out about their alleged experiences with Hawk in the past. Their stories come after a young woman posted publicly last month detailing her allegation in which she claimed he groomed her years ago while in his youth group at Epic Church, KC. Hawk has also resigned as lead pastor at the church.

KSHB 41 News anchor Caitlin Knute has since talked with two other women who are also alleging inappropriate behavior by Hawk at the church. They have given statements to police, and while police have confirmed an active investigation, no charges have been filed, though the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office is aware of the investigation. We've requested copies of the women's statements to police but police have not provided them, citing the ongoing investigation.

One of the women we interviewed was Ali Terwillger.

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Ali Terwillger

She says her life revolved around the church, both as a member and a volunteer. But, she says it was during that time that Pastor Bobby Hawk allegedly made inappropriate comments.

"It’s emotional. It’s mental and spiritual," Terwillger said. "That’s what’s so tricky about pastors being the situation, because you trust them as that figure in your life, and so having this person be a pastor and boss and friend was very complicated."

She says she repeatedly told Hawk his behavior was inappropriate, but the comments continued.

She alleges most of what she deemed as inappropriate conversations happened via private messages on what was then Twitter, now X.

She provided KSHB41 with copies of some of the messages she says Hawk sent her, all coming from an account listed as belonging to Bobby Hawk that is no longer active.

We've reached out to Hawk and Epic Church, KC multiple times to inquire about these allegations, but our calls and emails have not been returned.

The superintendent of the Southern Missouri Ministry Network, the entity that oversees Assemblies of God churches, says the network is investigating the claims.

Since Hawk resigned, the Epic Church, KC website and Facebook page have been taken down and services appear to have been suspended. Church members were asked to join a video meeting last week to discuss the situation, but that meeting was closed to the public.

Terwilliger says ultimately Hawk's conduct toward her prompted her to turn her allegations over to the Epic Church board, before she left the church for good in 2013.

"There was no staying. There was no option for staying even if I wanted to. I cared about the church," Terwillger said. "The people in the church I cared about and that was really really hard for me."

These are all allegations a family member who was also part of the church confirmed to KSHB 41.

Terwilliger says she recently shared her story publicly for the first time on Facebook, after a young woman named Izzy Davis created a website alleging Hawk groomed her years ago as a teen.

"The second I read her story I couldn’t even read it; Just for her to have gone through that and to not feel safe for like she could speak up for all these years, it just made me want to do anything I can," Terwillger said.

On her blog post, Davis claims she was invited to his house for a sleepover with two other girls as a reward for being leaders in the church's youth group. She says the alleged unwanted contact happened while they watched a movie.

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Izzy Davis

"I just remember we sit down and movie starts. It’s going fine at first, and then he grabs my hand and has us like holding hands and then places them both underneath his thigh and then the movie ended," Davis claims. "We all stood up and started talking as a group."

She says that alleged experience when she was 13 prompted her to distance herself from Hawk as much as possible in the future. It wasn't until this past year, almost 10 years later, she says she confided in a friend and former church member who confirmed her story to KSHB 41.

But, it wasn't until Davis realized Hawk was running for reelection as the school board President that she decided to finally tell her parents.

"...they kind of froze for a while was their initial reaction, but then my mom went and got really really upset and angry and she was sad. She was crying...," Davis said. "Since that day they’ve supported me with whatever decisions I’ve decided to make on bringing this to light or not."

KSHB 41 spoke to her father who confirmed that conversation.

Davis says her parents encouraged her to talk to a therapist, who in turn suggested she journal about her experience. She says that turned into the blog post she ultimately made public a few weeks ago.

That post caught the attention of another woman who previously worked for Epic Church, KC. She, too, claims she experienced inappropriate behavior with Hawk. Her account has been corroborated by a family member who was also part of the church at the time.

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Kari Crandall

"He’s a likable guy. He’s a really likable guy," Kari Crandall said. "He’s a really smooth talker loved and a lot of people loved him. But there was also a side of him that not everyone got to see."

Terwillger claims she tried to warn the church about her alleged experiences with Hawk, but says the church only met with her then-husband, and didn't allow her to speak to them on her own behalf.

Now, years later, that leads her to believe her concerns weren't taken seriously, which is another reason why she says she's coming forward now.

"I think that Assemblies of God, specifically the way that they handled it, I would hope that they would learn from this, and understand that when somebody when somebody speaks up about this, it is really freaking hard! to consider what that means instead of only thinking about protecting the pastor or protecting the church," Terwillger said.

All three women we spoke to acknowledge their alleged experiences don't necessarily amount to criminal complaints.

But, they all say their goal was to ensure Hawk was no longer overseeing students as part of the school board or leading a congregation.

"I want to see him never be a pastor again," Crandall said. "This person has no business leading anyone on a spiritual journey whatsoever."