A lawyer with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) said Tuesday that the SBC will make public the names of hundreds of denomination-affiliated members facing sexual abuse allegations, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The impending release of this list follows the publication of a 288-page report on Sunday from an internal investigation company, Guidepost Solution, showing how the SBC covered up reports of sexual abuse among its members and mishandled communication with victims of said abuse.
The AP reported on Tuesday that the decision to release the list was announced during a virtual meeting in response to the report.
“Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse,” Guidepost said in its report. D. August “Augie” Boto, a former EC general counsel, and other senior members played a significant role in the handling of the response to the allegations, as “their main concern was avoiding any potential liability for the SBC,” the report alleges.
The investigation further asserts that one of Boto’s subordinates kept a running “list of accused ministers in Baptist churches, including the minister’s name, year reported, relevant news articles, state, and denomination.”
Per the report, in May 2019, EC Vice President Dr. Roger “Sing” Oldham emailed Dr. Ronnie Floyd, who was EC President at the time, and stated that “[f]or the past decade, I have been regularly sending Augie news reports of Baptist ministers who are arrested for sexual abuse, for his awareness.”
Boto reportedly acknowledged the list in his response.
“Yes. We are collecting them, and may even post them in some way, but we’d have to really examine the potential liabilities that would stem therefrom,” he said.
According to the report, the most recent variation of the list contained the names of 703 individuals accused of abuse, with 409 supposedly affiliated with the denomination at some point.
In a meeting with victims of the alleged abuse, Boto told attendees that “continued discourse between us [the Executive Committee and survivors’ advocates] will not be positive or fruitful.”
The SBC released a statement in response to the report stating, “The SBC Executive Committee rejects this sentiment in its entirety and seeks to publicly repent for its failure to rectify this position and wholeheartedly listen to survivors.”
The SBC is “the largest protestant denomination” in the U.S., with “a membership of over 47,000 churches,” the AP notes.
In response to the release of the investigation, the SBC also announced that they would create a hotline for victims of sexual abuse within the denomination. According to the SBC press release, “the hotline can be reached at 202-864-5578 or SBChotline@guidepostsolutions.com.”
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