Abuse at Kanakuk camp in Branson unreported for decades, victims say

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Branson-based Kanakuk Kamps and its associated ministries are a multi-million-dollar global enterprise that includes the largest evangelical sports camp in the world. Since 1926, Kanakuk has hosted more than 500,000 campers and 50,000 staffers in Missouri and its many international locations.

Thirteen years ago, one of those staff members, Pete Newman, was revealed to be a prolific child molester.

Known as a charismatic director and ambassador for the camp prior to his 2009 arrest, Newman was charged with crimes involving six underage victims and admitted during sentencing to having “inappropriate activity with as many as 13 more campers,” according to News-Leader coverage of the proceedings. The prosecutor who oversaw the case later estimated the actual number of victims could be in the “hundreds.”

More:Former Kanakuk counselor Peter Newman named in new sex-abuse lawsuit

Newman’s abuse of campers and others he met through Kanakuk-affiliated ministries often began with casual nudity and discussions about how to control sexual desires, progressing to mutual masturbation and sodomy.

In their statements about Newman, camp leaders say they were deceived. 

“More than 12 years ago, one of our staff members was accused and convicted for abusing campers,” reads Kanakuk’s official statement. “(Newman’s) deception of family, friends, Kanakuk, and our camp families was deep.”


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