Missouri Baptist pastor sentenced to 20 years for child sex-abuse
By Hannah Elliott - Associated Baptist Press
January 18, 2007
GREENWOOD, Mo. (ABP) -- In what the detective investigating it
described as Missouri's biggest clergy sex-abuse to date, Shawn
Davies, a 33-year-old former music and youth minister, was sentenced
Jan. 12 to 20 years in prison for molesting children at First Baptist
Church of Greenwood, Mo.
Davies was convicted of 25 counts of abuse dating from 2003. Charges
included statutory sodomy, furnishing pornographic material to minors,
supplying liquor to minors, sexual misconduct with a child under
the age of 14, use of a child in sexual performance and endangering
the welfare of a child.
Under a plea-bargain deal, Davies will serve the 20 years as concurrent
sentences for crimes committed in Missouri and Kentucky.
Davies was earlier convicted of molesting children at three Kentucky
Baptist churches. He had been serving jail time in Kentucky when
authorities returned him to Jackson County, Mo., last year.
A sheriff's office in Kentucky began investigating Davies in 2001
after a boy told deputies his youth minister had shown him pornographic
Police started the Missouri investigation in July 2005 after another
boy came forward with charges of sexual molestation. All told, seven
boys connected with the Greenwood church were abused, according
to Greenwood detective Robert Leslie. Leslie said at least 13 victims
total have come forward with allegations, including children in
Missouri, Kentucky and Michigan.
"This man is a predator," Leslie said. "He is going
to be a cancer to society unless he is locked up. I'm sure there
are still other victims of Shawn's out there."
None of the victims were present at the sentencing, although Leslie
said Davies apologized to some of the victims' parents who were
in the courtroom.
Davies went to prison in December of 2005, but KCTV-5, the local
CBS affiliate, ran an investigative story on the case a few months
later. It indicated Davies may have abused at least two more boys
at the Greenwood church before senior pastor Mike Roy fired him.
Lee Orth, chairman of the church's litigation committee, said KCTV's
claim to have broken the story of new abuse was "total nonsense."
"The church right away took steps
as soon as this broke,"
he said. "Everybody was open about it. The reason why there
wasn't a lot of talk about it was because of the victims,"
who were present in church services before the abuse was announced.
He said the investigation was kind of low-key, but it was
not hidden. It was talked about in the open. It was not at all swept
[under] the rug."
Orth said the church fully cooperated with authorities and made
professional counseling available to anyone who wanted it. The abuse
was a tragedy for Davies' family and for the church, he said.
Leslie maintains he has reason to believe Roy may have known about
some improprieties before he fired Davies, but Roy has declined
to talk with authorities.
"It was mishandled," Orth said of Roy's decision not
to talk. "Mike felt bad because it happened on his watch. He
felt bad about that."
Roy hired Davies to lead music at the 165-year-old Greenwood church
in 2003. They had known each other since 1998, when they both attended
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Roy, who has since left the Greenwood church, could not be reached
for comment on this story. Bobby Albers, First Baptist's associate
pastor, was unavailable for comment. Orth said a search committee
has been formed to find a new pastor.
At the time the TV station publicized the case, David Clippard,
executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, said his
organization has no standard practice for dealing with clergy sexual
abuse. But he noted that the MBC does help churches run background
checks on employees.
"We have equipped our churches with the tools and the forms
and the questions," Clippard said. "We have gone to great
lengths to provide our churches with information on how to do background
Ultimately, however, the individual church is accountable for its
hiring policies, he added.
Leslie said officials have not launched a criminal investigation
to determine if church leaders are guilty of harboring Davies after
they knew about the abuse.
Still, several of the churches where Davies worked before being
hired in Greenwood were open about his sexual problems, Leslie said.
After obtaining a copy of Davies' resume and calling references
listed there, Leslie said church leaders told him they were forthcoming
in warning others about Davies' addiction to pornography and the
fact that he "didn't work well with children."
But while past employers did not give Davies favorable job references,
Davies had no problem continuing to get church jobs, Leslie said.
"It always hits the papers when a female teacher has sex with
14- or 13-year-old boys, but when a pastor sexually abuses
young boys, it's kept quiet," Leslie said. "If the first
victim had come forward, it's possible that we wouldn't have these
other victims today."
Copyright © 2005 Associated Baptist Press. All rights reserved.