Southern Baptist leaders release once-secret list of accused abusers
Written by admin on May 27, 2022
Top Southern Baptist leaders have released a once-secret list naming hundreds of pastors and church workers who have been accused of sexual abuse.
The list includes hundreds of entries from alleged cases spanning mainly from 2000 to 2019.
The decision to release the 205-page list Thursday evening came after independent firm Guidepost Solutions on Sunday unveiled an explosive report on its findings into a probe into alleged past abuses within the church.
The probe found that the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee had mishandled abuse claims and stonewalled survivors. The investigation was requested by the executive committee after it faced growing pressure for an external probe into abuse allegations.
In a statement published on the Southern Baptist Church’s website, officials said the list was being released “for the first time as an initial, but important, step towards addressing the scourge of sexual abuse.”
“Each entry in this list reminds us of the devastation and destruction brought about by sexual abuse,” the statement said.
“Our prayer is that the survivors of these heinous acts find hope and healing, and that churches will utilize this list proactively to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us,” it added.
The Guidepost report had alleged that D. August Boto, the former vice president and general counsel of the committee, and former SBC spokesman Roger Oldham, who both retired in 2019, had kept a private list of allegations. The list was not believed to be widely known within the committee and church staff, the investigation found.
In the report, Guidepost said that for years, survivors had been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee “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 hostility from some within the EC,” it said.
Despite keeping a list of allegations, Guidepost said “there is no indication that Dr. Oldham, Mr. Boto, or anyone else, took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches.”
Oldham and Boto could not be reached for comment early Friday.
A hotline maintained by Guidepost has been opened for survivors or their loved ones to report abuse allegations at 202-864-5578 or SBChotline@guidepostsolutions.com.
The firm said callers will be provided with support options and connected with advocates.
It said the hotline was created as a “stopgap measure for survivors” until an SBC annual meeting in Anaheim, California, in June can “pass even more meaningful reforms.”