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Report accuses Southern Baptist leaders of ignoring abuse

Supporters of sexual abuse survivors demonstrate at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. Associated Press/Photo by Julie Bennett, file

Report accuses Southern Baptist leaders of ignoring abuse

The long-awaited independent report on sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention is a total of 394 pages long and covers more than 20 years of allegations. Investigators with Guidepost Solutions interviewed 330 individuals, collecting the stories of about two dozen survivors of sexual abuse. They found that leaders of the Executive Committee of the denomination were “singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC” at the expense of transparency, accountability, and care for survivors.

Among the report’s numerous recommendations for reform, it urges the Executive Committee to create and maintain an “Offender Information System” of Baptist leaders credibly accused of abuse. Current Executive Committee Chairman Rolland Slade and interim President and CEO Willie McLaurin issued a statement Sunday acknowledging the report and committing to “doing all we can to prevent future instances of sexual abuse in churches.”

What new information did the report contain? It noted that at one point, Executive Committee staff had a list of 585 possible abusers, but “no action was ever taken to share these materials outside a small cadre of people, or to take action to address the possibility that these accused individuals might continue in ministry in SBC churches.” Investigators also related a previously unpublished accusation against former Pastor Johnny Hunt of Woodstock, Ga., a past president of the SBC. An unidentified woman said Hunt groomed and assaulted her in 2010 and urged her not to report her abuse. In interviews with Guidepost, Hunt denied ever having physical contact with the woman, and in a statement issued Sunday he “vigorously denied” ever abusing anybody.

Dig deeper: Read my report with Mary Jackson on the role of the Executive Committee in addressing allegations of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is WORLD’s executive editor for news. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kan.


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