List of Southern Baptists includes hundreds of abuse cases, starting in the 1960s


(RNS) – Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee released a once-secret list of sex offenders on Thursday (May 26), which had been kept by SBC staff since 2007.

The 205 pages The list includes details of 700 cases of abuse by pastors, Sunday school teachers, camp counselors, music ministers, bus drivers and missionaries, including about 400 linked to SBC churches from Alaska to Alabama. In almost all cases, the abuses had led to arrests and prison sentences.

According to a description from Guidepost Solutions, the company that discovered the list as part of a multimillion-dollar investigation into how SBC executives handled abuse, the list began as a research project for a committee of the SBC in 2007.

This committee was examining the possibility of creating a database of Southern Baptist abusers, an idea proposed by Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson at the 2007 SBC annual meeting. At the time, the SBC was dealing with the aftermath of an ABC News report detailing abuse among Southern Baptists and other Protestants.

“My goal was to prevent guilty SBC ministers from being transferred to another church or denomination only to reoffend,” Burleson said. wrote in a recent blog post.

According to the Guidepost report, an anonymous Executive Committee staffer began an initial search for Baptists accused of abuse and found the names of 66 “pastors, youth ministers and deacons of Baptist churches who had been arrested or were the subject of a civil lawsuit for sexual violence”. crimes with minors.

Executive Committee staff then worked to determine if the alleged abuser or that person’s church was part of the SBC, and tracked whether there were any convictions, often adding links to news stories.

Those names were given to August “Augie” Boto, a longtime attorney who spent years trying to shield the denomination from liability for abuse, according to the Guidepost report. The database idea was rejected by the Executive Committee in 2008, largely on Boto’s advice. Even so, the anonymous staff member continued to update the list until recently.

This week, after the publication of the Guidepost report, the Executive Committee publicly rejected Boto’s past treatment of victims of abuse and promised to make amends.

D. August “Augie” Boto in an undated image. Photo courtesy of the SBC Executive Committee

The publication of the list – the existence of which was unknown to the current leaders of the SBC before the Guidepost report – is part of “the fight against the scourge of sexual abuse and the implementation of the reform of the Convention”, said the Executive Committee Chairman Rolland Slade and Interim Chairman/CEO Willie McLaurin. in a report.

“Each entry on this list reminds us of the devastation and destruction wrought by sexual abuse. Our prayer is that survivors of these heinous acts find hope and healing, and that churches proactively use this list to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us,” they said.

The list was compiled primarily from published reports of convicted abusers, mostly from news reports. SBC attorneys redacted the list to remove the names of abuse victims and, in some cases, details of the allegations.

RELATED: Southern Baptist leaders mistreated victims of abuse for decades, report says

Here are a number of key details included in the recently revealed listing:

A number of prominent SBC mega-churches have faced abuse

The list included cases of abuse at some of the SBC’s largest churches. Among the attackers on the list were two former ministers of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, led by former SBC chairman and Trump adviser Jack Graham; a contract employee who held choir competitions at Houston’s Second Baptist Church, 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 youth volunteer mentor at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, led by bestselling author Rick Warren. Both Gaines and Graham have been accused of mishandling the abuse allegations, which Graham has long denied.

The list also included abuse cases from Baptist churches not affiliated with the SBC, such as First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, and Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

A number of attackers worked in Baptist camps and schools or drove buses

The list included camp teachers and staff, including Michael Phillip Latham, former camp director at the Glorieta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and director of a Baptist camp in Louisiana, who was convicted in 2012 of sending obscene photos on the Internet. Sammy Allen Nuckolls, a Southern Baptist evangelist and former camp pastor convicted of video voyeurism; and Daniel Montague Acker Jr., a schoolteacher and school bus driver, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison after “admitting to sexually abusing 20 girls” over a 25-year period, according to the list. Acker later admitted further abuse in 1992 while serving as a youth pastor.

Abuses ranged from 1967 to 2021

The first alleged abuse case 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 Aderholt, was convicted in 2018 after admitting abuse that occurred while he was a seminary student.

The list also details the abuse of Dale “Dickie” Amyx, a Texas pastor accused of abusing a teenager in the 1970s and convicted of giving alcohol to a minor. He was then sued in 2006, when he was a pastor at another church in Texas. The case was settled out of court with an apology and a public admission of guilt.

The longest item on the list details the abuse of convicted sex offender Darrell Gilyard, who was a protege of former SBC presidents Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson. Gilyard was fired from several churches for alleged misconduct and was convicted in 2009 of sexual assault charges involving teenage girls. He was then hired by a church in Florida after his release from prison.

Darrell Gilyard's Florida Sex Offender Registry.  Screenshot

Darrell Gilyard’s Florida Sex Offender Registry. Screenshot

Some abusers on the list are still active in ministry

As part of Guidepost’s investigation, its staff discovered that nine of the people on the list may still be in active ministry, including two who have ties to an SBC church. These churches have been reported to the SBC Credentialing Committee, which has the authority to recommend that these churches be expelled from the SBC.

Several SBC seminars are included in the list

The list states that as of 2008, a registered sex offender was enrolled at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and living on campus. David Sills, a former professor from the South, is also on the list. He quit in 2018 after admitting to abusing a former student. In 2007, a trustee of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary pleaded guilty to “complicity in prostitution.” That same year, a student from SEBTS was sentenced to 13 years in prison for child abuse while another student was arrested for child abuse of 10 years old.

Along with releasing the list of abusers, SBC officials have taken a number of steps since the publication of the Guidepost report. Most notably, the executive committee hired Guidepost to operate a confidential hotline to report allegations of abuse. These allegations can be reported to 202-864-5578 or [email protected].

This hotline was an interim step while the SBC reviews a set of Guidepost recommendations for future action. The SBC’s North American Mission Board said it is working to have Guidepost investigate all allegations against its staff that are made at the hotline.

Former SBC chairman Johnny Hunt, who was accused of abuse in the Guidestone report, released a letter on Twitter on Friday, asking his longtime church to forgive him for a “sin” that occurred in 2010. Hunt said that in 2010, after a battle with cancer and the end of his SBC presidency, he fell into “a season of deep despair and probably clinical depression.”

“It was during this summer that I allowed myself to approach too closely a compromising situation with a woman who was not my wife,” he wrote. “It happened when she invited me to her vacation apartment for a chat. Against my better judgment, I chose to go.

Pastor Johnny Hunt preaches in 2020. Video screenshot

Pastor Johnny Hunt preaches in 2020. Video screenshot

Hunt then said a “brief but inappropriate encounter” ensued, ending when he had an “overwhelming sense of conviction” and fled.

The Guidestone report described this encounter differently, saying Hunt allegedly pinned the young woman, got on top of her and pulled up her shirt. Investigators found several witnesses who corroborated the allegations, saying Hunt admitted to the assault and went on leave in 2010. They also spoke with a counselor who counseled Hunt and the survivor.

“We are including this allegation of sexual assault in the report because our investigators have found the pastor and his wife to be credible,” Guidepost wrote in its report, saying “their report was corroborated in part by a minister counselor and three other credible witnesses; and our investigators did not find Dr. Hunt’s statements regarding the sexual assault allegation to be credible.

Hunt, who previously denied the allegation, did so again in his letter, saying the Guidepost report included the “absurd allegation” that the 2010 “brief consensual encounter” was abuse. He claimed he apologized in 2010.

“As I did 12 years ago, and still today, I confess that I have sinned. I have crossed a line. I repent in brokenness and shame,” he said. he writes.

“Please forgive me.”

Adelle M. Banks contributed to this report.

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