10 September 2019 | An anonymously authored Twitter account recently shared accusations that Huntsville, Alabama-based Oakwood University community members had perpetrated incidents of rape and sexual assault.
In a statement to Adventist Today, Pastor Christopher Thompson, Communication Director for Breath of Life and Oakwood University Church, said that Twitter handle @OUmetoo1 published accusations the owner received, concealing the names of people who sent the stories via direct message and third-party messaging tools.
Thompson said that the owner was confronted and admitted that he/she didn’t believe at least one of the stories but shared it anyway.
The account owner later apologized with a tweet and admitted “false accusations” were being made. The account was deactivated the next day.
Some accused persons have already begun to seek legal counsel.
On September 7, Oakwood University Church Senior Pastor Carlton Byrd shared a message with the Oakwood community in which he clarified comments he had made in a sermon last Sabbath (September 7.) Byrd stated that he had addressed “hurtful experiences” endured by Oakwood students. He said that the stories were indicative of “several breakdowns in our community.”
Byrd called for safer spaces for students and community members and said that there had to be justice for victims of sexual assault.
The pastor addressed the Twitter account as well as the acknowledgement that at least one of the accusations was false. He said that false accusations “make it harder for actual victims to be heard and believed.”