The singer allegedly groomed students at a Kentucky church through back rubs and unaccompanied sleepovers, according to an investigation by GRACE.
Three men reported that Christian musician Chris Rice took advantage of a youth ministry culture that normalized massages and sleepovers to groom them as teenagers more than 20 years ago.
An investigation by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) found their stories credible, including an account of “explicitly sexual contact.” The GRACE report, made public this week, focused on Rice’s involvement at Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in Kentucky during the height of his music career in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“Rice’s role as a worship leader and a spiritual teaching leader at one or more retreats created a mentor, non-threatening role that reduces the defenses of those under that person’s authority,” the investigators wrote.
Young men looking for a mentor in the music industry say they found the singer was more interested in touching them than talking about songwriting.
Rice first landed on the CCM scene with the Christmas song “Welcome to Our World” and was nominated for six Dove awards for his 1997 debut album Deep Enough to Dream. He was close friends with Brad Waller, a former Tates Creek pastor who was the subject of a 2018–2019 investigation by GRACE.
Waller had a habit of massaging students’ feet and admitted there was a sexual element to his behavior. In a statement in 2020, the church said the singer’s friendship with Waller allowed Rice to develop close relationships with several students at Tates Creek. The Waller investigation led a former student to come forward with allegations against Rice, and the church launched another inquiry.
The former student described how Rice—who was in his late 30s at the time—would …