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Case specifics of the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) sex assault and abuse cover-up
A thorough 288-page investigative report conducted by Guidepost Solutions revealed that the Southern Baptist Convention leadership snubbed or attacked clergy sex abuse survivors over 20 years while working behind the scenes to protect their own reputations.
The seven-month investigation described how survivors–including other concerned church members-revealed the sexual abuse allegations time and time again to the SBC's Executive Committee (EC), only to be met consistently with “resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility” from the EC leadership.
The report explains that “our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC's response to these reports of abuse ... and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC."
Another scathing remark in the report "In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy – even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation."
The sex abuse scandal was thrust into the spotlight in 2019 by a landmark report from the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News documenting hundreds of cases in Southern Baptist churches, including several in which alleged perpetrators remained in ministry.
Specific instances of abuse included in the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) sex assault cover-up
Russell Moore–who formerly headed the SBC's public policy wing but left the denomination after accusing top Executive Committee leaders of stalling efforts to address the sex abuse crisis–described the scandal as “an apocalypse," and that the investigation “uncovers a reality far more evil and systemic than I imagined it could be."
Some of the more troublesome details of the cover-up include:
- Dave Pittman, who from 2006 to 2011 made phone calls and sent letters and emails to the SBC and Georgia Baptist Convention Board reporting that he had been abused by Frankie Wiley, a youth pastor at Rehoboth Baptist Church when he was 12 to 15 years old.
- Christa Brown says she was sexually abused as a teen by the youth and education minister at her SBC church–but, when she disclosed the abuse to the music minister after months of abuse, she was told not to talk about it
Survivors "spoke of trauma from the initial abuse, but also told us of the debilitating effects that come from the response of the churches and institutions like the SBC that did not believe them, ignored them, mistreated them, and failed to help them."
We believe that victims of abuse in the Southern Baptist Church should face their abusers and receive justice and compensation–starting with a free, private case evaluation.
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