Investigative Report Uncovers the Southern Baptist Convention Re-hired Dozens of Convicted Sex Offenders

Gerry Dincher is licensed under CC BY SA 2.0

Many individuals convicted of misconduct were permitted to work elsewhere within the church.

The Houston Chronicle on February 10 published the first installment of the investigative report on the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches. The investigation discovered over 380 SBC pastors were convicted of sexually abusing more than 700 victims. Church volunteers and youth workers also face allegations. Many pastors convicted of misconduct were permitted to exit quietly and allowed to work elsewhere. Others who were arrested and even possessed criminal records were also found to work at many SBC churches.

The second part of the investigation was published on February 12. This report narrated in detail how several volunteers and church workers were able to continue within the SBC even after there were credible accusations or even convictions against them. The report elaborated on how these tainted ministers were able to find new posts at churches. They also worked in positions which needed a fair share of trust. The investigation discovered at least 35 SBC pastors, volunteers, and youth ministers against whom sexual misconduct allegations were slapped or already have sex crime convictions. Worryingly, they were permitted to work at the churches during the last 20 years.

The SBC has rejected multiple efforts to compile a registry for tracking sexual abuse cases. The registry would keep churches from hiring a predatory pastor. It was found in a few cases; churches were aware of that some pastors had past crimes and allowed them to work. The inaction of the SBC could have permitted offenders to travel between communities. Lives were ruined as they slid through the background checks and got employed at a new, unsuspecting church. It was clear from the investigation the practice of taking in pastors engaged in sexual abuse was a part of the bigger problem across the SBC in the U.S.

Since there was no centralized repository of tracking the sex abuse cases at the SBC, the investigative team was forced to spend months developing their offenders database through the collection of public records and news stories to locate perpetrators and collect details regarding their cases. It was found that a majority of the victims did not contact police. Which means the true numbers of victims may be much higher.


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