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Report shows that the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) tried to cover up sexual abuse–victims can seek justice and compensation

Report shows that the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) tried to cover up sexual abuse–victims can seek justice and compensation

Report details include:

  • Top SBC leaders ignored or belittled survivors of clergy sex abuse over two decades
  • Executive Committee leaders were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC
  • An Executive Committee staffer maintained a list of Baptist ministers accused of abuse
  • A 2019 landmark report documented hundreds of cases in the SBC, including several in which alleged perpetrators remained in ministry.

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Details behind the report of the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) sex assault cover-up

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According to a scathing 288-page investigative report conducted by Guidepost Solutions, the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention ignored or belittled survivors of clergy sex abuse over almost two decades while seeking to protect their own reputations.

The seven-month investigation outlined how survivors, as well as other concerned Southern Baptists, repeatedly shared allegations with the SBC's Executive Committee (EC), only to be met, over and over again, with “resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility” from some within the EC (Executive Committee).

According to the report: “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."

The report explained that "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

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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, who 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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