Dr. Donn Ketcham

Here in West Michigan, Dr. Donn Ketcham, a former doctor who was accused of repeatedly sexually molesting children in Bangladesh at a mission was charged. A first degree criminal sexual conduct charge has been authorized against him by the Ottawa County, for allegedly assaulting a 5 year old girl at his office in Allendale. This was in 1998 and happened during an exam. The girl’s mother was in the room at the time. In 2019, the girl came forward, but she didn’t want to pursue it.
However, earlier this year, after Target 8 interviewed many of Ketcham’s victims from Bangladesh, she was reached out to by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. The now 85 year old Ketcham is retired and lives in Wyoming. He allegedly molested 23 woman and girls in the 1970s and 1980s in Bangladesh. The Baptist missionary group which he worked for released this report. Because these alleged incidents happened so long ago and all the way in Bangladesh, he never faced charges.
The victim from Allendale has been re-interviewed by the Sheriff’s department, along with some of the women identified by Target 8. This has led to the new charge. One of his victims from Bangladesh hopes that the new charge will bring justice for all the women wronged by Ketcham.
Linda Walsh Zylstra, whose sister was one of the alleged victims, called it bittersweet news. She said they were relieved that justice might be served after so many years, but sad that so many people have had to suffer because of Ketcham, including his own family. She and her sister are helping the Sheriff’s detectives and prosecutor.
The Sheriff’s department expects that Ketcham will turn himself in and is working with his attorney. He could be arraigned Tuesday or Wednesday. This was the report on the 20th of December 2016.
25th May 2019: A group of women have launched a blog [email protected] They claim that they were molested when they were children. They have launched the blog so that it will be a voice for others who they say might have gone through the same thing they did. They say they were abused by Dr. Donn Ketcham when he was serving in Bangladesh at Memorial Christian Hospital. The 80 year old doctor now lives near Hopkins. He’s been occasionally seeing patients as part of his job at Allendale Family Practice. The doctor was not available to comment on this.
The office manager at Allendale Family Practice, Carol Olthoff said that Ketcham wasn’t working at the office. Staff have apparently been told that he would prepare a written statement which will be released to patients, according to her. Ketcham was sent by the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). A response from them states that in 1989, they received a sexual report abuse of a minor female. Dr. Donn Ketcham had done this when he was serving as a missionary of ABWE in Bangladesh. They immediately looked into it and confirmed that the report was true. As a result, they removed the doctor from the field and also terminated him from all services.
They received additional reports in 2002 from the adult missionary kids who also said that they suspected that Dr. Ketcham had abused them when they were children. They were not able to confirm the stories through investigations they carried out on their own. However, the substantial commonalities made them think that the stories were not fake. One of the documents that was released by the organization show that Ketcham confessed to sexual contact with a minor at one point.
Ron Johnson from South Bend, Ind., said that his fiancée had been victimized as a child by Ketcham. In a call to the ‘Advance’, he said that she had gone through extreme mental suffering as a result of this. He said that she had required extensive hospitalization as well as counselling. He also added that a lot of the victims are very disturbed by the fact that Ketcham was never charged with a single crime. In fact, he was allowed to continue practicing medicine as though nothing happened.
In their response, ABWE said that they had reported the incident to authorities. However, because it happened in a foreign country, there was no way criminal charges could be established. They said that they regretted the way they public responded to ABWE itself after Ketcham’s crimes gave people the impression that they were tolerant of abuse. They clarified that they would not defend the reputation of sex offenders. They also asked the forgiveness of people who felt they were treated unjustly and those who had felt abandoned because of their past responses. They welcomed missionary kids to come forward and promised that they would provide counselling fees and other services.

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