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.

Another Baptist minister in Texas knew about Gilmore's conduct years ago and has made a sworn statement. The Texas church should have stopped Gilmore back then, but didn't. Now, that church has issued a stark apology for the "very serious sexual abuse" that Gilmore inflicted on a young church girl. And, a year and a half ago, the Baptist General Convention of Texas determined there was "substantial evidence" to show the abuse took place and it placed Gilmore's name into a file of ministers who are "known offenders."

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 SNAP seeks to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.

For more information:
Miguel Prats, SNAP Coordinator for Texas, 713-305-0159,
Martha Jean Lorenzo, SNAP Tampa Bay area leader, 813-879-6290




Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests