(RNS) – Leaders of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention released a previously secret list of sexual abusers who have been kept by SBC employees since 2007.
205-page The list includes details of nearly 700 cases of abuse by pastors, Sunday school teachers, camp counselors, music ministers, bus drivers and missionaries, about 400 of which are linked to SBC churches from Alaska to Alabama. In almost all cases, misconduct led to arrest and jail time.
According to a description from Guidepost Solutions, the firm that disclosed the list as part of a multimillion-dollar investigation into how SBC leaders dealt with abuse, the list appeared in 2007 as a research project for an SBC committee. started in
That committee was looking into the possibility of creating a database of Southern Baptist abusers, an idea proposed by Oklahoma Pastor Wade Burleson at the SBC’s 2007 annual meeting. At the time, the SBC was detailing abuses between Southern Baptists and other Protestants after ABC News reported.
“My goal was to prevent the transfer of convicted SBC ministers to another church or denomination only to offend again,” Burleson said. wrote In a recent blog post.
As Guidepost reports, an unidentified executive committee employee launched a preliminary search for Baptists accused of abuse and found 66 “names of pastors, youth ministers, and deacons of Baptist churches who had been arrested or prosecuted for sexual relations.” was the subject of Crime against minors.
Executive committee staff then worked to determine whether the alleged abuser or that person’s church was part of the SBC, and ascertained whether convictions had been made, often by adding links to news stories.
As Guidepost reports, those names were given to August “Oggy” Boto, a longtime staff attorney who spent years trying to shield the denomination from any liability for abuse. The database idea was rejected by the Executive Committee in 2008, mainly on the advice of Boto. Nevertheless, the unnamed employee continued to update the list until recently.
This week, following the release of the guidepost report, the executive committee publicly denied Boto promises to improve past treatment and practices for survivors of abuse.
The release of the list – whose existence was unknown to current SBC leaders prior to the Guidepost report – is part of “addressing the crisis of sexual abuse and implementing reforms to the Convention”, according to Executive Committee Chairman Roland Slade and Interim Chairman/CEO Willie. McLaurin said. in a statement.
“Each entry on this list reminds us of the devastation and destruction caused by sexual abuse. Our prayer is that survivors of these heinous acts find hope and healing, and churches will use this list to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us,” he said.
The list was compiled from mostly published reports about convicted abusers, mostly from the news. SBC attorneys amended the list to remove the names of abuse survivors and, in some cases, details of the charges.
Here are some of the key details that have surfaced recently. list:
Several major SBC megachurches have dealt with abuse
The list included cases of abuse at some of the largest churches in the SBC. Among the abusers on the list were a pair of former ministers at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, which is led by former SBC president and Trump adviser Jack Graham; a contract worker who organized the choir at Second Baptist Church in Houston, led by former SBC president Ed Young; an associate pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis, led by former SBC president Steve Gaines; and a volunteer youth mentor at Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., led by bestselling author Rick Warren. Both Gaines and Graham have been accused of mishandling allegations of abuse, which Graham has long denied.
The list also includes cases of abuse of Baptist churches not affiliated with the SBC, such as First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana and Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Many abusers worked or drove in Baptist camps and schools
The list included teachers and camp workers, including Michael Philip Latham, a former camp director for Glorieta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Michael Philip Latham, director of a Baptist camp in Louisiana, who was convicted in 2012 of sending obscene photos over the Internet. Sammy Allen Knuckles, a Southern Baptist evangelist and former camp pastor convicted of video voyeurism; and Daniel Montague Acker Jr., a schoolteacher and school bus driver who, according to the list, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for “sexually abusing 20 girls” over a 25-year period. Acker later admitted to additional abuse in 1992 while serving as a youth pastor.
The abuse was from 1967 to 2021
An early case of alleged abuse on the list involved a former Southern Baptist missionary who was accused of abusing missionary children in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but no charges were filed . Another former missionary, Mark Ederholt, was convicted in 2018 of misbehaving with a seminary student.
The list also details abuse by Texas pastor Dale “Dickie” Amicks, who was accused of abusing a teenager in the 1970s and convicted of giving alcohol to a minor. He was later prosecuted in 2006 while serving as a pastor at another Texas church. The matter was settled out of court with an apology and public acknowledgment of the offense.
The longest item on the list details the mistreatment of convicted sex offender Darrell Gillard, who was the shelter of former SBC presidents Jerry Wines and Paige Patterson. Gillard was fired from several churches for alleged misconduct and in 2009 pleaded guilty to molesting teenage girls. He was later hired by a Florida church after his release from prison.
Some of the abusers in the list are still active in the ministry
As part of the guidepost’s investigation, its staff found that nine people on the list may still be in active ministry, including two with ties to the SBC Church. Those churches have been notified to the SBC’s Credentialing Committee, which has the power to recommend those churches to be expelled from the SBC.
Many SBC madrasas are included in the list
The list details that in 2008, a registered sex offender was enrolled at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and was living on campus. Former South professor David Sills is also on the list. He resigned in 2018 after admitting to abusing a former student. In 2007, a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary trustee pleaded guilty to “aiding and abetting prostitution”. In the same year, a SEBTS student was sentenced to 13 years in prison for misbehaving with a minor, while another student was arrested for misbehaving with a 10-year-old girl.
Along with releasing the list of abusers, the SBC officials have taken several steps since the release of the guidepost report. Most notably, the Executive Committee has hired Guidepost to run a confidential hotline to report allegations of abuse. Report those charges at 202-864-5578 or . can be given [email protected],
That hotline was an interim step while the SBC considers a set of guidepost recommendations for future actions. SBC’s North American Mission Board said it is working with Guidepost to investigate any allegations made against its employees on the hotline.
Former SBC president Johnny Hunt, who was accused of misconduct in the Guidestone report, posted Letter On Friday, he asked his longtime church to forgive him for the “sin” he committed in 2010 on Twitter. Hunt said that in 2010, after battling cancer and the end of his SBC presidency, he “fell into a season of profound despair and perhaps clinical depression.”
“It was during that summer that I allowed myself to move closer to a compromising position with a woman who was not my wife,” he wrote. “This is when he invited me to his vacation condo for a conversation. Against my better judgment – I chose to go.”
Hunt then said that a “brief but inappropriate encounter” ensued, when he had a “tremendous sense of confidence” and fled.
The Guidestone report described that encounter differently, saying that Hunt allegedly pinned the younger woman down, climbed over her and pulled her shirt up. Investigators found several witnesses who confirmed the allegations, saying that Hunt had admitted to the assault and had gone on leave in 2010. He also spoke to a counselor who had counseled Hunt and the survivor.
Guidepost wrote in its report, “We include this sexual assault allegation in the report because our investigators found the pastor and his wife to be credible,” their report partially corroborated by a consulting minister and three other credible witnesses. Went; And our investigators did not find Dr. Hunt’s statements about the sexual assault allegation credible.”
Hunt, who had previously denied the allegations, did so again in his letter, saying that the Guidepost report contained an “absurd allegation” that the 2010 abuse of a “brief, consensual encounter” was. He claimed that he had apologized in 2010.
“Like I did 12 years ago, and again today, I confess that I have sinned. I crossed a line. I regret the brokenness and shame,” he wrote.
“Please forgive me.”
Adele M. Banks contributed to this report.
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