TX--New child sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Baptist church and accused predator pastor, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2015
A child sexual abuse lawsuit was filed this week by the parents of a now deceased victim against First Baptist Church of Rockwall, Texas and pastor Billy Bob Burge, now employed as a pastor at Grace Community Church in Greenville, Texas.
DALLAS, Sept. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/
Carla Sweet and Ed Gomez of Dallas, Texas, filed suit today in Dallas, Texas, state court against First Baptist Church of Rockwall: seeking justice for their son, John "Jeremy" Sweet-Gomez, who was repeatedly sexually abused by a Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church of Rockwall. The suit alleges that a Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church of Rockwall began sexually abusing Jeremy when he was approximately thirteen years old. The abuse included sodomy, oral sex, and inappropriate sexual touching. The suit states that the sexual abuses and assaults occurred "on church property and during church-sponsored religious trips." Jeremy suffered repeated sexual abuse as a teenager; he later committed suicide.
The lawsuit alleges that “Defendants entered into a civil conspiracy, accompanied by a meeting of the minds regarding concerted actions, the purposes of which were to conceal and minimize public knowledge of sexual misconduct and/or abuse by Pastor Burge. This conspiracy and concerted action was carried out by Defendants to conceal the fact that they individually and collectively committed acts of neglect, gross neglect, concealment, fraud, and breached fiduciary duties. Officials and agents or representatives of First Baptist Church of Rockwall, acting in concert, engaged in this conspiracy to avoid prosecution, to cover up sexual misconduct and abuse, and to conceal claims arising from crimes or conduct of their Youth Pastor.”
We urge officials at First Baptist Church of Rockwall to come clean with any information and to immediately report any known or suspected abuse by Billy Bob Burge to law enforcement. We hope that any other churches or places where Burge has had access to kids, including his current church employer Grace Community Church in Greenville, Texas, will aggressively reach out to anyone else that may have been harmed by Burge and urge them to call police.
We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered pastor Burge’s alleged child sex crimes to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.