Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse Problems Under Investigation by Justice Dept.
Three months after a scathing report outlined rampant sexual abuse problems with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the organization indicates it is now cooperating with an investigation by the Department of Justice.
The SBC issued a press release on August 12, confirming the Justice Department investigation into Southern Baptist sexual abuse complaints within the massive religious organization.
“While we continue to grieve and lament past mistakes related to sexual abuse, current leaders across the SBC have demonstrated a firm conviction to address those issues of the past and are implementing measures to ensure they are never repeated in the future,” Southern Baptist leadership said in the press release. “The fact that the SBC Executive Committee recently completed a fully transparent investigation is evidence of this commitment.”
The report regarding clergy abuse in the Southern Baptist church was initially published in May, after it was created by Guidepost Solutions LLC as part of an independent investigation launched by the current leadership of the organization, examining how SBC handled reports and allegations of sexual abuse involving those who worked with the organization since 2000.
It was launched at the demand of members at an annual meeting in 2021, amid fears that the Southern Baptist Convention was hiding problems of clergy abuse similar to those being dealt with by the Catholic Church in recent years. The report found that prior SBC leaders covered up credible claims of clergy sexual abuse for years, and prioritized the protection of the organization, the largest Protestant organization in the U.S., over the safety of its members.
The report found that Southern Baptist leaders covered up credible claims of childhood sexual abuse for years, and prioritized the protection of the organization, the largest Protestant organization in the U.S., over the safety of its members.
In June, the overwhelming majority of delegates to the SBC’s annual convention in California voted to create a database of members, including clergy, employees and volunteers, who have been credibly accused of sex abuse, voting to make the database public for the first time. The delegates also voted to create a formal group to handle sex abuse allegations in the future.
The SBC did not release any details on the DOJ investigation, and the Justice Department does not typical discuss the details of ongoing probes.
The findings of the report mirrored many of the clergy abuse problems found in both the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America, who have faced tens of thousands of lawsuits as a result. The Boy Scouts, which similarly maintained a list of sexual predators, known as the “perversion files” was ultimately driven into bankruptcy by the allegations, and is still trying to negotiate a settlement which would move it out of bankruptcy.
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