For almost a century, Kanakuk Kamps has hosted thousands of families, children and staff at its multiple overnight summer camps in Southwest Missouri. Supported by prominent Christian leaders, organizations and celebrities, the Kanakuk experience and philosophies have spread to communities across the nation and around the globe.
But Kanakuk’s reputation and reach conceals a dark secret. For decades, Joe White and other camp leaders knew about and facilitated activities and behaviors that classify as sexual abuse against scores of children, a pattern that may continue to occur to this day. The same leadership is still at the helm.
Despite multiple indictments and convictions, the sex scandals surrounding Kanakuk have never received the attention needed to bring about real change. Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and significant financial settlements have concealed the truth in order to preserve a ministry brand and economic engine.
This website is dedicated to sharing what is known and what needs to be brought to light. Parents deserve facts before choosing to enroll their children to the care of any Kanakuk-related program. Alumni and donors deserve the truth as well.
This is a centralized source for gaining knowledge and for sharing experiences and resources. This is a place where victims of Kanakuk abuse can finally feel seen, believed and supported. At a minimum, we want their pain, suffering, silencing, and deaths to be acknowledged.
Our petition builds on that simple request to demand that individuals and families who have settled with the camp be released from any NDAs or similar clauses, so they can choose to find healing in sharing their stories and connecting with other survivors. It is time to hear their voices and experiences. It is time for Joe White and the Kanakuk network to practice what it preaches.
The Shameful Record of Kanakuk Abuse
Release Kanakuk Victims from Their NDAs
Take action by signing this petition to urge Joe White and Kanakuk Ministries to allow victims to have a voice.
Kanakuk Kamps Timeline
A lawsuit filed on behalf of John Doe XII alleging sexual assault is filed against former Kanakuk Kamps Director Pete Newman, currently serving two life sentences plus 30 years in Missouri state prison for child sexual abuse.
Two additional civil lawsuits are filed in Missouri on behalf of John Doe X and John Doe XI, alleging sexual abuses and negligence in more cases against Pete Newman.
Kanakuk opens for Summer 2020 terms despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
A $20 million judgment is awarded In the Doe IX case, making it the top plaintiff’s judgment in Missouri for that year.
A lawsuit, Doe IX v. Kanakuk Heritage Inc., is filed in Missouri state court, alleging multiple instances of sexual abuse by Pete Newman and subsequent cover-ups by Kanakuk leadership.
A federal case filed in Texas by John Doe III, originally filed in 2013, is settled because “all matters in controversy between the parties have been resolved.”
Former Kanakuk counselor Lee Bradberry is sentenced to 10 years in prison for sodomy and other crimes he committed while on Kanakuk summer staff.
Paul Kerr, a former Kanakuk counselor hired in 1998, pleads guilty to child abuse in Missouri state court.
The first of many civil lawsuits against Kanakuk and former Director Pete Newman are filed.
Ed Ringheim, a former counselor, bus chaperone and volunteer for K-Life is sentenced to 15 years in Florida state prison for the sexual abuse of children.
Pete Newman is indicted and convicted of multiple counts of sex abuse against dozens of Kanakuk campers. At Newman’s criminal trial, Joe White testifies that nudity with children, such as naked basketball, may not constitute sexual abuse. White states in court that he didn’t consider sexual abuse as a possible issue at Kanakuk.
Joe White’s private pilot, Robert John Morgan, is indicted on incest charges against his biological child. While Morgan awaits trial, White invites him to live on Kanakuk property and later testifies as a character witness for Morgan’s defense.
Pete Newman is hired as a counselor and abuses children at Kanakuk Kamps as he moves up the ranks to father-son retreat leader, assistant director, and eventually director of K-Kountry. He has access to thousands of children with little supervision.
Former Kanakuk staff member Corbie Dale Grimes is fired for sexual misconduct with campers, but since he was not reported to law enforcement, Grimes went on to work in youth ministry until a 2002 conviction.
A reliance on non-disclosures can promote a culture that tolerates and allows such crimes to continue.
Survivors of Kanakuk Kamps abuse have been silenced. It is time to hear their stories.