As one of the investigations underway in the Grant Solomon case, Anglican Watch has been examining allegations that the Grace Christian Academy in Franklin, Tennessee, repeatedly failed to act as mandated reporters of child abuse under state law.
Anglican Watch has identified at least 12 cases in which the school failed to report allegations of child abuse from Grant and Gracie Solomon and their friends. And we suspect there were many additional cases, but the details are murky, so we are not counting those situations. In fact, there’s enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that the 12 cases we identified may be just a small portion of the total complaints made to school officials.
Our investigation identified students and school staff with potential knowledge of the matter. That proved remarkably challenging, as we got a lot of “I dunno what you’re talking about,” not to mention the usual claptrap about being in league with Satan, etc. (For the record, he doesn’t return our calls either.)
That paradigm suggests an abusive environment, for no one should ever have to fear coming forward with concerns, especially regarding child abuse.
Our lucky break came when a teacher came forward, initially anonymously. She shared a wealth of information with us, which we have used judiciously in our other investigations.
Apparently, we handled things appropriately because the teacher soon provided us with additional information. And shortly afterward, several students came forward. Some contacted us via our email form, others via burner phones or phones in public places.
In every instance, students begged us not to use their names or do anything to identify them. We can and will fully honor that request and have taken steps to ensure third parties cannot access this information, even via subpoena.
But we uncovered a school where children are often afraid and feel powerless. Several also volunteered that they feared Aaron Solomon or people close to him might kill them. And we can’t count the number of times people referred to Aaron as a creepster, a stalker, scary, or similar. One student said, “If I were in a room with him, I’d gnaw my own arm off to get away.”
Yet even with 12 confirmed reports that Gracie, Grant, and their friends complained to the school about child abuse, we’ve come up with no evidence that the school took action. (We were hampered by Tennessee law, which allows agencies to decline open records requests from persons out of state.)
Indeed, multiple students told us that the school told to be quiet about these issues, that the allegations were “old news” or that they were “gossips.” And several said their parents told them not to get involved.
Everyone we interviewed also told remarkably similar stories of a school that can be extremely harsh towards students.
And another thread ran through all of the stories we heard, which was around perceptions that criticism of so-called leaders would be a betrayal. This is a classic warning sign of an organization in which a narcissist is in charge.
So, a few closing thoughts:
- Parents, it doesn’t matter what kind of connections your child may make at Grace Christian Academy. Any school that ignores child abuse, says “I have to check before I do anything,” or otherwise avoids dealing with child sexual abuse is not a safe environment for your child. And that is doubly true in Tennessee, which has a mandated reporting law. So take our advice and don’t send your students to Grace Christian Academy.
- The school’s bit about a teacher going with Gracie to the police may be accurate, but it’s a whitewash. There were numerous times the school ignored the matter—including Gracie’s obvious terror when Aaron came to the school to pick them up. That in itself is prima facie evidence of abuse. And we suspect that going with Gracie was to monitor what she said. What should have happened was to invite child protective services to interview the student privately.
- One consistent theme from our source is that no one—not one—believes Grant went to see Pastor Berger to “get closer to Jesus.” All think he went to get help for his sister. And while we didn’t ask that specific question, several stated that they believed Berger passed Grant’s complaints on to Aaron, thus resulting in Grant’s death. So we are not yet able to prove this, but we wouldn’t trust Berger to tell us the time of day.
We’re tracking down a slew of leads and tips, so there will be more coverage of Grace Christian Academy and Steve Berger in the coming days.
As for Grace Christian Academy and its lawyers, don’t bother. We’re confident in the accuracy of our reporting, and we’ve been threatened too often to count. So save your money and go try to bully someone else.