The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Statement Regarding Secret File of Clergy Molesters at Baptist General Convention of Texas
November 13, 2006
We are at the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. This organization - the largest state-wide Baptist organization in the country - keeps a file with the names of clergy who are reported by churches for having committed sexual abuse, including child molestation. A Baptist brochure calls it the file of "known offenders." This file is kept secret from the ordinary people who sit in the pews of Baptist churches.
These are the kinds of secrets that put kids in harms way.
We know for sure of at least one minister for whom there was a substantiated report of child molestation, and who was nevertheless allowed to continue in ministry long after his name was in that secret file. A court document shows that at least three of this Conventions leaders were specifically informed about the decision to put that ministers name in the secret file. And still more Baptist leaders were put on notice of the substantiated report. Yet, the man was allowed to continue in ministry.
How many more molesting ministers names are in that secret file and how many kids have they hurt? Why arent parents entitled to know which ministers names are in that file?
We call upon the Baptist General Convention of Texas to stop shielding clergy predators and to take action for the protection of kids.
Just two weeks ago, a five-month investigation ended with the disclosure that Baptist leaders here had failed to heed warnings about more than $1.3 million in mismanaged funds. Baptist leaders have shown a similar blindness about clergy sex abuse, and the safety of children is far more important than mismanaged money. Therefore, we request that the Baptist General Convention of Texas hire independent experts to conduct an investigation into how a man could remain in ministry even after Texas Baptist leaders had determined that his name belonged in a secret file of "known offenders." Who knew what and when did they know it and how could so many be so blind as to allow such a man to continue in ministry? This is an issue that cries out for an independent investigation even more so than the loss of funds.
We request the following additional actions: (1) immediately post on the BGCTs website the names in that secret file so that others can be warned; (2) locate the whereabouts of the ministers in that file and inform the people in the pews of every church in which a file-listed minister has worked; (3) turn over to civil authorities all names and materials in that file so that criminal investigations can be considered; (4) publicize a strongly worded policy that no church affiliated with the BGCT should instigate the use of a confidentiality agreement when victims report sexual abuse, and commit that the BGCTs own attorney will never again do so; (5) archive reports of sexual abuse received from victims and not merely reports received from church officials.
We urgently hope that Baptist leaders will learn from the mistakes of Catholic leaders rather than repeating them. We want Baptist leaders to take effective action BEFORE widespread scandal hits rather than waiting until they are finally pressured into reforms by concerned congregants, brave victims, determined prosecutors, and investigative journalists.
For anyone who may have been abused by a Baptist minister, we urge you to report it to the police, no matter how long ago it happened. You can find a starting place for support and information at www.snapnetwork.org and at www.stopbaptistpredators.org. SNAP seeks to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.
For more information:
Christa Brown, SNAP-Baptist, 512-217-1730, [email protected]
David Clohessy, SNAP National Director, 314-566-9790, [email protected]
Mary Grant, SNAP Southwest Regional Director, 626-419-2930, [email protected]
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests