Doctor mired in overseas abuse scandal accused in W MI

Donn Ketcham
Donn Ketcham. (Aug. 1, 2016)

ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — A former Baptist missionary doctor who allegedly molested 23 girls and women in Bangladesh in the 1970s and 1980s is now facing new allegations, Target 8 has learned.

Dr. Donn Ketcham, now 85 and living in the city of Wyoming, has never faced charges because his first alleged crimes happened in Bangladesh and happened so long ago.

But Target 8 has learned that the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a local allegation and hopes to turn over the case to prosecutors this week for possible charges. Detectives took a new look at the local allegations last week as a result of a Target 8 investigation.

“The allegations are concerning,” Ottawa County Sheriff’s Capt. Mark Bennett said. “I can’t imagine they’d be under the guise of a normal examination or treatment.”

An Ottawa County woman told detectives she was 5 years old and living in West Olive when it happened in 1999. She said it was during an exam at Ketcham’s office in Allendale and that her mom was in the room.

She first reported it to Ottawa County in June 2011 after seeing media reports that Ketcham was under investigation for strikingly similar allegations in Bangladesh in the 1970s and 1980s. But Bennett said Ketcham was out of the country in 2011 and detectives couldn’t reach him. He said the girl and her mother didn’t pursue the case.

“She wanted the incident documented, but wasn’t sure about pursuing criminal charges at that point,” he said.

But Bennett said an inquiry from Target 8 last week prompted his detectives to reach out to the alleged victim again. She told detectives she now wants to pursue charges.

Ketcham’s first alleged victim said she’s not surprised at the new allegations.

“I don’t care if he’s 200 years old, I think someone should go after him,” the woman told Target 8. “He could still be a pedophile. He could still harm someone.”

The woman, now 42 and living in the Midwest, was the first alleged victim to come forward against Ketcham in Bangladesh. She was 12 when the abuse started, 14 when she reported it in 1989. He was 58 at the time.

It led the Association of Baptist World Evangelism to ban Ketcham from the mission back then, but it did not report him to police or to the state agency that licenses doctors.

Since then, 23 alleged victims of Ketcham have been identified — all from his days in Bangladesh, but he could never be charged because it happened overseas.

“I think there possibly could be a lot of victims, but I think they’re scared,” the initial victim said.

Ketcham started working as a doctor in 1989 in Allendale after leaving the mission field. The Baptist missionary group filed a complaint with the state in 2011, which prompted Michigan to order Ketcham to surrender his license.

Details of the allegations against Ketcham in Bangladesh were revealed in May in a report that criticized the missionary group for covering up his wrongdoing.

Ketcham told Target 8 Monday he wasn’t aware of the latest investigation against him. While admitting some wrongdoing with the then-12-year-old girl, he has denied all other allegations. He refused to comment further Monday.

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Online:

ABWE PII report summary (PDF)

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