NEWS
11/20/2011 01:29 EST | Updated 01/20/2012 05:12 EST

An Alberta Bible college contacts RCMP over abuse allegations

THREE HILLS, Alta. - A Bible college northeast of Calgary says it has contacted the RCMP over abuse allegations it says date back several decades.

Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alta. posted a statement on its website that the allegations were made by people connected with the college, but adds those involved are no longer there.

The statement says the college brought a file containing the allegations to the RCMP and has assured investigators of its full co-operation.

Prairie Bible Institute was founded in 1922 when its founder, L.E. Maxwell, taught the Bible to eight local farm children.

It later grew to include a ministry for mission preparation, a technical college and an aviation school.

The statement does not specify who the allegations have been made against.

Mark L. Maxwell, the college's president and the grandson of its founder, says his goal in dealing with the allegations is to be "open and accessible."

"In partnership with our students, faculty, staff and alumni, our objective is to provide a school environment that is healthy and vibrant, giving life to all who come our way," Maxwell says in the website statement.

Prairie Bible Institute boasts 16,000 alumni in 114 countries.

Linda Fossen, an alumni member who attended elementary and high school at the college and later two years of post-secondary during the 1960s and 1970s, said she has encouraged several alumni to contact police about their allegations of sexual abuse.

Fossen, who lives near Orlando, Florida, says she met many of the people through a Facebook page for alumni.

RCMP spokesperson Doris Stapleton said police are only in the early stages of determining whether an investigation is necessary.

"There has been an allegation of an historic sexual assault allegation," Stapleton said. "It is my understanding that one person has come forward with an allegation."

Prairie Bible Institute said in an email on Saturday that Maxwell wouldn't be available to speak about the investigation until Monday.

However, in an interview on the school's website recorded on Nov. 14 and posted on the website, Maxwell says the college downloaded all the allegations from the Facebook page and gave them to RCMP on Nov. 10.

"We, too, would like to find out the truth," he said. "It's now with the police."