Is missionary Tom Randall ghostwriting under his supporters’ names?
UPDATE: The internal review posted by the church confirms that the letter purportedly by Josh Kvam was in fact written by Tom Randall. Kvam did not respond to my inquiries, but he told Christ Community Chapel he did not write the letter. Tom Randall, when questioned, admitted that he wrote it. Randall was asked to resign as a result.
In January 2014, American missionary Tom Randall was arrested in the Philippines at an orphanage he had founded, Sankey Samaritan Mission. The orphanage director and the director’s son were also arrested and eventually charged with sexual abuse of minors; Randall was released without charges.
After Randall returned to Ohio, little was said by Randall or his church about the young adults pressing charges in the ongoing criminal trial. Instead, Randall called the accused director his “best friend” and spoke of a betrayal by missionary and ministry partner Joe Mauk, who had initially sent abuse allegations from two girls to Randall in November 2013. Mauk’s family was responsible for escalating the allegations to higher authorities after they say Randall mishandled them.
Randall spoke frequently about the mistreatment he says he experienced during his three week stay in NBI custody. But regarding what came before, Randall has said very little, aside from briefly alluding to “two overzealous rescue raids with armed men” in a March 2014 newsletter. Randall’s version of what happened leading to his arrest was clearly quite different from Mauk’s, but he volunteered no details… in public.
Last year, this began to change. Following Randall’s late 2017 return to the Philippines, concerned churchgoers and local Christians began to contact Randall’s employer, Christ Community Chapel, with renewed questions about the orphanage abuse situation. Joe Mauk, his daughter Miriam Bongolan, and others began to post about it on social media.
On December 7, 2018, two individuals posted comments on Facebook claiming knowledge of the events prior to Randall’s arrest. A few days later, on December 10, a third account was sent via email and then presented by Christ Community Chapel as supporting evidence for Randall’s version of events.
Here’s the thing: the accounts are all strangely similar to each other in content, tone, and even punctuation. They are noticeably different from the stated authors’ other writing. Could there be a common source behind these accounts? Could that source be Tom Randall himself?
Who posted the December 2018 accounts?
The December accounts came from three stated authors:
- A representative for 25 former Sankey young people. On December 7, 2018, a young woman who had grown up at the orphanage and is the sister of one of the alleged victims posted a statement on Facebook. She had posted a comment once before, in November, but had quickly deleted it.
- Jim “Jimbo” Brinkerhoff, a friend of Tom Randall. Brinkerhoff, who had gone on several missions trips with Randall’s ministry, replied to the December 7 Sankey youth statement later that day. He made several follow-up comments over the next few days. He had also commented a few times before, in November.
- 2013 Sankey short-term missionary Josh Kvam. Referenced by Brinkerhoff’s comments, Kvam sent an email on December 10 which was not posted on Facebook. Tom Randall and Christ Community Chapel spokesperson Stacey DiNardo provided it on December 14 to those meeting with the church regarding concerns about Sankey.
What did the accounts say?
All three accounts are dated within days of each other and cover similar topics in varying amounts of detail:
- All claim that the Mauks came to the orphanage prior to Randall’s arrival in the Philippines, lied, and traumatized the youth. Brinkerhoff and Kvam further describe this as a “raid” or “take over” executed by “armed men”.
- All speak positively of Tom and Karen Randall and negatively of Joe Mauk and his daughter Miriam Bongolan. Brinkerhoff accuses Bongolan of “dramatic self-pity” and Kvam calls her “quite a drama queen”.
- All claim that DSWD officials came to look into the situation in December 2013, that NBI agents treated Tom Randall badly during his arrest, and that the Sankey youth were traumatized by their stay in DSWD custody.
What’s with the punctuation?
Interestingly, all three accounts share an unusual style that inserts extra spaces around punctuation symbols. It’s a typographical error that anyone might make on occasion, but it happens frequently in each of these accounts.
More interesting than that: other comments/emails from the same authors don’t use this punctuation style. Compare the following excerpts, which are supposedly by the same authors on different dates:
Sankey youth, Nov 9 vs Dec 7
Jim Brinkerhoff, Nov 24 vs Dec 7
Josh Kvam, Dec 13 vs Dec 10
Now — is it possible that all three of these authors just happened to start writing about Tom Randall and Sankey with a similar and unusual punctuation style in early December? Yes, of course it is. But there are other clues that suggest the text in these accounts is coming from somewhere else.
- Brinkerhoff’s comments contain repeated fragments — as if they were being copy-pasted in.
- Brinkerhoff’s December comments flip-flop— some of them use this punctuation style, while others are in his November writing style.
- One of Brinkerhoff’s comments ends with “Sent from my iPhone”, which is the default signature in the Apple Mail app — it’s not part of the Facebook app.
- The December 10 email signed “Josh Kvam” is not from Kvam’s email address — it’s from Tom Randall’s.
Could the common source be Tom Randall?
When I was researching Tom Randall’s alleged mistreatment in NBI custody, I reached out to him for comment. Surprisingly, he responded. We were discussing other alleged cases of NBI corruption and he wrote:
- Tom Randall uses the unusual punctuation style with extra spaces.
- “Sent from my iPhone” is an email signature used by some clients — apparently including the one Tom Randall uses. It is also the closing on the December 10 “Josh Kvam” email as well as one of Jim Brinkerhoff’s Facebook comments.
- Tom Randall’s email address here is also the one on the December 10 “Josh Kvam” email.
Proof? No. But the motive is obvious.
I have tried to contact Kvam and Brinkerhoff, but neither has responded. Could Randall have somehow written these accounts without their knowledge? Or are they allowing Randall to use their names?
Why would they agree to do such a thing? Even for a friend’s sake, I think most people would agree this crosses an ethical line. Kvam is apparently a teacher; surely he’d fail a student who tried to pull something like this?
I’ve sent requests for comment and will update if I receive a response.
This post is part of a series:
Overview · Criminal case timeline · List of abuse allegations · Church Response (2014) · Church internal statement (2019) · Randall re: former Sankey kids·Randall re: NBI custody · Randall re: Luchavez, Mauk · What did Joe Coffey know & when? · Randall ghostwriting own support · Churches that protected Randall
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