MO--Mid Mo preacher on trial soon for child sex crimes
For immediate release: Wednesday, Jan. 7
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
We’re grateful that an accused child molesting preacher will go on trial soon. But we are appalled at the continuing silence of mid-Missouri ministers over the fact that an accused serial predator is still on the job in a church.
Rev. Travis R. Smith goes on trial in Moniteau County Court on Jan. 16 on felony child sex abuse charges. But in a stunning act of callousness and recklessness, his flock is still paying and worshiping with him at the First Baptist Church of Stover (573-377-2828).
We dispute the alleged “helplessness” of Missouri Baptist Convention officials who claim they can’t do anything about this dangerous situation. Every church pastor and official in central Missouri – Baptist or otherwise – has a bully pulpit. Those pulpits can and should be used to beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and prosecutors about Smith’s wrongdoing. Those pulpits are routinely used to prod church-goers to avoid various sins. But they are rarely used to confront church-goers about the sin of silence in the face of child sex abuse allegations. Rarely are they used to prod church-goers to take active steps to find and help those who were hurt by a predatory pastor.
The website of First Baptist clearly shows it is affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention. So we again beg Baptist officials – and all ministers in mid-Missouri – to help prosecutors convict Smith by aggressively seeking out those with information or suspicions about his crimes.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)