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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Orlando, FL Statement Regarding
Southern Baptist Minister Tommy Gilmore
Statement by Miguel Prats, SNAP Texas Coordinator
March 31, 2006
A minister who was determined to have sexually abused a kid found a
place to hide here, working with children at the First Baptist Church
of Oviedo. The Reverend Tommy Gilmore was a minister here and also at
the Cornerstone Community Church. We hope that, if there are any other
Orlando victims who may be suffering in shame and silence, they will learn
of our support group.
A year ago, letters were sent to your Baptist leaders here in Florida, telling them about the substantiated report concerning Gilmore's sexual abuse of a minor and about how they could confirm it by contacting Baptist leaders in Texas. The First Baptist Church of Oviedo, the Greater Orlando Baptist Association, and the Florida Baptist Convention - all were told. And even months before that, the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville was also told, but it reported that it had no record of Gilmore being a minister in any church. Yet, long after all these Baptist leaders were told, Gilmore remained working in ministry here in Oviedo.
After a year had passed and Gilmore had not been removed from ministry, the concerned victim finally filed a lawsuit. When the Orlando Sentinel ran a story about her lawsuit, Gilmore's conduct could not stay hidden any longer, and Gilmore resigned from his ministerial position. But questions remain.
Why was this man allowed to continue in ministry here in Oviedo even after church and denominational leaders knew about a substantiated report involving his sexual abuse of a minor? Aren't Southern Baptist parents entitled to know who the reported abusers are and to decide for themselves about where they entrust their kids? Why was minister Gilmore's conduct kept a secret?
We applaud this courageous survivor who worked so hard to bring the truth to light so that others might be protected. Predatory clergy are found in all denominations and Southern Baptists are no exception. We urge anyone who may have known about or suspected abuse by a minister to report it to law enforcement, no matter how long ago it occurred and no matter how uncertain you may feel. If you yourself were abused, know that whatever shame you may feel, it doesn't belong to you. All of the shame and guilt belongs to the abusive clergy and to any other denominational leaders who turned a blind eye. You can find a starting place for support and information at www.snapnetwork.org. SNAP seeks to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.
For more information:
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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