Texas megachurch pastor accused of child sexual abuse; SNAP applauds the victim for speaking out

For immediate release: June 16, 2024

The founding pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, has been accused of sexually abusing a young girl beginning in 1982, when she was just 12 years old. He was a young, married pastor with a child of his own at the time. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, applauds this survivor for coming forward. Her courage will help to protect today’s children.

Cindy Clemishire told The Wartburg Watch that Pastor Robert Morris began sexually abusing her on Christmas Day, 1982, and that the assaults continued for four-and-a-half years. Pastor Morris said in a statement that “When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying. It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years.” We wish to remind Pastor Morris that this was not “inappropriate sexual behavior.” This was a crime.

In addition, the pastor attempted to minimize his crime by referring to Cindy as a “young lady,” rather than the child that she was. So, where his account of the extent of the assaults and the events that followed differs from Cindy’s, we are inclined to believe that he is again minimizing his behavior.

Pastor Morris acknowledges that he was removed from ministry for 2 years after Cindy reported the assaults to her parents. He claims that the elders of his church, as well as Cindy’s father, “blessed” his return to ministry. Cindy counters that her father did no such thing, and again, we are inclined to believe her. But regardless of who approved this return to ministry, we would label it a terrible mistake. Those who sexually abuse children while in positions of power in religious communities should not be given a second chance, period.

While SNAP originated with Catholic victims, our resources are open to those who experienced abuse in other religious settings. Survivors from any faith community are welcome to contact SNAP Leaders for an understanding ear, and to participate in our peer-led support meetings. They are also welcome to join us at our annual conference, which this year will take place from August 16th-18th in Houston.

We want survivors to know that we believe them, and that they are not alone. We commend Cindy for bravely stepping forward, and we encourage anyone who may have been abused by Pastor Morris or any other faith leader not to suffer alone and in silence.

Remember, you are not alone. There are people who will believe you and support you.

CONTACT: Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Curtis Garrison, SNAP Dallas ([email protected], 214-808-2878), Paul Petersen, SNAP Dallas ([email protected], 972-569-0995), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Interim Executive Director ([email protected], 814- 341-8386) 

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant