A 12-year-old student at a private Christian school where Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, teaches, has admitted that she made up a highly publicized story about a hate crime.
The African American student, who was enrolled at Immanuel Christian School of Springfield, Virginia, claimed that three white classmates pinned her down and covered her mouth as they cut her dreadlocks and shouted racist slurs at her.
Following an investigation, however, the student admitted that she made up the story but maintained that she had been bullied.
Immanuel Christian School head Stephen Danish said in a statement published by news station WTOP on Sunday that while the allegations turned out to be false, there remains “hurt on both sides of this conflict.”
“We recognize that we now enter what will be a long season of healing. This ordeal has revealed that we as a school family are not immune from the effects of deep racial wounds in our society,” Danish said. “We view this incident as an opportunity to be part of a learning and healing process, and we will continue to support the students and families involved.”
Danish added that the school will “continue teaching what we’ve taught for more than 40 years: that the love of God is for all people, and as His children, we should demonstrate that love equally to all people regardless of their background, what they believe, or how they behave.”
The girl's grandparents also released a statement through the school, expressing their apologies to the three students who were falsely accused of physically attacking the student.
“To the administrators and families of Immanuel Christian School, we are sorry for the damage this incident has done to trust within the school family and the undue scorn it has brought to the school,” they said, as reported by WTOP. “To the broader community, who rallied in such passionate support for our daughter, we apologize for betraying your trust. We understand there will be consequences, and we’re prepared to take responsibility for them.”
Immanuel Christian School is a kindergarten through 10th-grade private nondenominational Christian school with 469 students located in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. It is tied to a megachurch named Immanuel Bible Church. "[J]ust under half of the pupils are students of color," Immanuel officials told The Washington Post.
The school garnered controversy in January when it was announced that second lady Pence was going to teach art there part time. At issue was the school’s conservative views on gender and sexuality.
This was expressed in their “parent agreement,” which prohibits students and their families from engaging in conduct that is counter to “the biblical lifestyle the school teaches.”
“This includes, but is not limited to contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school,” read the agreement in part.
Notable conservative Christian writer and National Review contributor David French took issue with the mainstream media's coverage of Pence’s job at Immanuel.
“Immanuel is a church ministry applying the church’s theology. No one is forced to attend the church. No one is forced to attend the school. It’s a voluntary association that is protected by the First Amendment and rooted in the faith that guides the lives of tens of millions of Americans,” French wrote.
“What’s next? The belief that public figures should not teach Sunday School? Serve in domestic or foreign missions?”