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Young Life is under federal investigation after 4 women say they were removed from the ministry for reporting sexual misconduct

The federal government is investigating youth mega-ministry Young Life following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Four women made the claims in individual charges of discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The complaints, which Insider reviewed, come from Laureana Arellano, Becca Wong, Emily Welz, and a woman based in the Pacific Northwest who asked that her name be withheld. Arellano, Wong, and Welz wrote in their charges that they also experienced racial discrimination.

Welz, Arellano, and the woman in the Pacific Northwest said they were “constructively discharged” from the organization because it failed to protect them from sexual misconduct. Wong said she was removed from Young Life “in direct retaliation” for reporting the alleged sexual assault of another Young Life member.

Citing the active status of the complaints by Welz, Wong, and Arellano, a representative from Young Life declined to provide further comment. The EEOC declined to comment or confirm the investigation.

Are you a current or former Young Life staff member, volunteer, or student? Share your story with reporter Rachel Premack here or securely here.

Former members of Young Life previously told Insider that they experienced sexual assault or harassment while at the ministry, and that the $500 million Christian organization ignored or mishandled their complaints.

The women’s attorney, Iris Halpern of Denver-based law firm Rathod Mohamedbhai, said the EEOC is actively investigating the women’s claims. She told Insider that the ministry’s national policy on sexual misconduct — which groups together illegal activities like forming sexual relationships with children with watching pornography or having a consensual same-sex relationship — has lead to an environment in which such misconduct is pervasive.

“The upper echelons in management at Young Life are not modeling conduct, behavior, or ideology that takes sexual harassment seriously, and that’s why it’s flourishing so much,” Halpern previously told Insider.

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