Former missionary doctor ordered to stand trial in sex case

Ottawa County

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A former missionary doctor accused of molesting 23 girls and young women decades ago on the other side of the world was in an Ottawa County courtroom on Friday.

Donn Ketcham, now 86 and living in the city of Wyoming, was never charged with the alleged sex crimes in Bangladesh because they happened so long ago and so far away.

But on Friday, he was ordered to stand trial on a charge of first-degree sexual assault, accused of molesting a girl at his practice in Allendale nearly a decade after leaving Bangladesh.

The ruling followed a preliminary hearing that included testimony from the alleged local victim.

She is now 23, but says she was 4 or 5 in the late 1990s when Ketcham assaulted her during an appointment at his office in Allendale.

“I guess what they call is, digitally penetrating me with his hand,” she testified.

She said it lasted 10 to 15 seconds.

She testified that her mom was in the room, but that Ketcham was standing between them, blocking her view.

She said she even recalls what she wore.

“I was wearing Tweety Bird overall shorts, I think,” she said.

The woman said didn’t report it to police until 2011.

“I had watched a TV show, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” she testified. “There was a case on there that was exactly like what had happened to me.”

Ketcham started working in Allendale after being banished in 1989 from the mission field in Bangladesh over allegations of sexual misconduct — allegations covered up for years by the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism.

At first, the Ottawa County sheriff’s department, not aware of the old allegations, didn’t pursue the local victim’s case.

But detectives reached back out to her after Target 8 told the stories of five women allegedly molested by Ketcham in Bangladesh.

They said it happened when they were young girls, usually under the guise of medicine, some with their mothers in the room.

Carol Finlayson, the owner of Allendale Family Practice, testified for the defense on Friday. She said she started working with Ketcham in 1989 or 1990 at a nearby medical center. She said never heard a complaint about Ketcham.

“We had a wonderful working relationship,” Finlayson said. “He was admired; he was well-liked.”

Finlayson, a certified nurse practitioner, said she treated the alleged victim for years as a child. She said she often came in for “minor issues” and said she never complained about Ketcham.

On Friday, Ketcham’s attorney questioned the local victim’s memory. The woman has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and a medical condition that affects short-term memory.

“Do you think maybe the confusion or the memory problems might have muddled the TV show and reality?” defense attorney Matthew Borgula asked her.

“Absolutely not,” she responded.

He argued to dismiss the case.

“Her story has changed over time. It’s the defense’s position that there’s not even probable cause to believe that her story is true,” the defense attorney said.

After the hearing, Ketcham refused to answer questions.

The criminal complaint against Ketcham lists at least four alleged Bangladesh victims as witnesses. They were not in court on Friday, but detectives have said they plan to include Ketcham’s past to bolster the local case against him.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Stories On

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links