August 15, 2022 — The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into how the Southern Baptist Convention handled decades of sexual abuse allegations involving hundreds of pastors and church workers.
Until recently, leaders of the SBC claimed that they had little ability to prevent sexual abuse because all 47,000 churches are autonomous.
However, two months ago, messengers to the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting voted overwhelmingly to adopt reforms that were listed by the organization’s Sexual Abuse Task Force.
Those reforms would include $3 million to survivors and creating a “Ministry Check” website to help churches keep track of abusers and avoid hiring them.
Demands on the church to do more about the issue have grown dramatically since an outside consultant called Guidepost Solutions released a 400-page report on sex abuse by Southern Baptists, finding that sex abuse survivors were routinely silenced and church leaders fought against reforms.
Investigators found that the problems went all the way to the top of the organization. SBC Executive Committee staff fought against reforms out of fear of lawsuits. Former SBC president Johnny Hunt was also credibly accused of sexually assaulting the wife of another SBC pastor, but he claimed that the encounter was “consensual.”
The SBC has faced intense criticism since 2019, when an investigation found that survivors were routinely silenced, credible claims against pastors and other church workers were ignored, and known abusers were allowed to keep working in SBC churches.
One example is Darrell Gilyard, a convicted child molester who was re-hired by a Baptist church in Florida after serving 3 years behind bars. He is now accused of inappropriate sexual conduct by 44 women.
Another example is Ronnie Floyd, a pastor from Arkansas was named in the Guidepost report more than 120 times. Investigators found hat Floyd’s church responded to sexual abuse survivors with “resistance, stonewalling and even outright hostility.”
Do I have a Southern Baptist Sex Abuse Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting sexual abuse induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been sexually assaulted, raped or molested in a Southern Baptist church, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Sexual Abuse Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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