For decades, Southern Baptist Convention leaders ignored and covered up reports of clergy sexual abuse.

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Investigative Report
Details Cover-Up

In June 2021, Southern Baptist Convention members voted to create an independent task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by pastors and volunteers.

On May 22, 2022, third-party investigator Guidepost Solutions LLC issued a 288-page report that concluded that the SBC blocked and denigrated survivors of abuse for over close to two decades to protect the reputation of the religious organization and leaders.

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From Guidepost Solutions Independent Investigation Report

“For almost two decades, survivors of abuse and other concerned Southern Baptists have been contacting the Southern Baptists Convention (“SBC”) Executive Committee (“EC”) to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff. They made phone calls, mailed letters, sent emails, appeared at SBC and EC meetings, held rallies, and contacted the press…only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright bullying from some within the EC.”

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Singularly Focused on Avoiding Liability

The report also details how leaders and outside counsel “closely guarded information about abuse allegations and lawsuits, which were not shared with EC Trustees, and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations.

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 policy regarding church autonomy—even if meant that convicted molesters continued in the ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.”

SBC List of Abusers

On the heels of the investigative report, Southern Baptist Convention leaders published a 205-page list of hundreds of to pastors, youth leaders and other church workers described as being “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.

Staff Member Kept List for Over a Decade

At the SBC’s 2007 annual convention, a delegate and staff member of the convention’s executive committee presented a motion to create a database of clergy and staff “involved in sexual harassment or abuse.”

The following year, an executive committee working group rejected his motion, indicating that keeping a public list would violate the SBC’s decentralized structure.

A secret list had been shared with D. August Bono, the committee’s former vice president and general counsel, who took no action. The list contained close to 700 names, 400 of them affiliated with the SBC.

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Decades of Alleged Abusers

The recently released list includes abuse allegations going back decades, with the name, the year the claim was reported, the state, and a short description of accusations, as well as links to relevant news articles and the alleged offender’s denomination.

Most of the abuse reports have been previously published elsewhere, including a 2019 comprehensive investigation reported in the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, which revealed that over 700 victims had been abused by pastors, leaders, and volunteers in the Southern Baptist congregations. Other names have appeared in court documents.

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Credibly Accused

The alleged abusers on the list have been defined by the SBC as “credibly accused”, as indicated as one who:

  • Confessed in court or in another setting not protected by legal privacy claims
  • Was convicted in a criminal court
  • Had a civil judgment rendered against them
  • Had an accusation deemed credible by a third party hired by a Baptist body

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