19 Mar 2008

SNAP urges leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to disclose the names of ministers reported for child molesting

Star-Telegram - Texas

March 19, 2008

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

A national support group for people molested by clergy is urging leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to disclose the names of ministers reported for child molesting to protect potential victims. But convention leaders, who received the written demand Tuesday morning, said they will not publish unsubstantiated claims.

The names of those convicted are already posted on the convention's Web site, said Emily Prevost, the convention's associate coordinator of leader research.

And information on individuals who have confessed to abuse or been reported by a church for sexual misconduct is available to people holding "duly elected church offices," Prevost said.

A proposed legacy

The support group, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, asked Jan Daehnert, the convention's interim executive director, to release names before leaving office at the end of the month.

"His legacy will either be one of courage and compassion or of secrecy and recklessness," said Christa Brown of Austin, SNAP's Baptist outreach director, in a news release.

SNAP, which has offices in Chicago and St. Louis, says convention officials try to justify the file's secrecy by saying it protects victims' identities. Those identities can easily be preserved while still disclosing the names of the accused clergy, according to the letter sent from three SNAP officials.

The demands

SNAP wants the names of ministers in the file to be posted on the convention's Web site and in The Baptist Standard newspaper. The group also wants the accused clergy's congregations warned, and asks convention officials to turn the files over to secular authorities and to review victims' claims, not merely reports from church officials.

Prevost said the convention, which has 5,500 affiliated churches, is "very committed to protecting not just children but members. This is a pressing issue we have begun to address in the past eight years, but that's only a beginning."

She said the convention will reply to SNAP's letter.

"We don't just want to publish [the names] on the Internet," she said. "We don't have a way to substantiate. We don't even always have a victim's name."

She said the convention urges victims or churches to make reports to secular authorities qualified to investigate.

TERRY LEE GOODRICH, 817-685-3812



1 comment:

  1. First, I would like to tell you a little of what happened to me
    A Baptist Minister started touching me inappropriately when I was 14 & raped me when I was 15 yrs old. He continued to abuse me for years. I became pregnant with his child. I was told to go before the church and ask forgiveness for being an unwed pregnant teenage girl, but I was told not to tell who the father was as that would “Hurt the Church”. I did as I was told. This so called “Man of God” just went to Arizona and became a pastor there and then later came back to Texas and is a Pastor of a Baptist Church. It appears that none of these churches did any back ground checks on him. So who is protecting the children of these churches. Do these children deserve any less protection, just because the leaders in that church decided not to do a check on this person?
    After this minister told me about another young girl and I realized that my silence allowed him to be in a position to hurt others, I tried to get someone to do something to warn his church and to try to find this girl. I went to the police, although now I have been told it was the wrong police and I was not told the right police to go to and now it is too late. I told a number of Baptist Ministers who also were unable to do anything. I tried to get the BGCT to do something. I tried to get the SBC to do something. Still no one seems to be able to do anything and this man still is the Pastor of a Baptist Church.
    There is a lot more to what has happened to me and thing that are still happening in my efforts to try to do something to protect other young people from being hurt, but I am trying to make this short.
    I am very upset with the fact that Baptist leaders and Organizations such as the BGCT really do not do more to protect such young lives
    I have e-mailed the BGCT in February 2006 as well as June 2007 — they respond basically the same — sorry but they can do nothing — In the last e-mail communication I had with them — I was told only this man’s church could report him — even with the amount of proof I have including a statement from him admitting to having sex with me and being the father of my child and a tape recording I had made that proves my age. They will do nothing. I do not understand why they choose to protect these men over the victims and future victims.
    I think it is ashamed that people who are supposed to be Christian are not following the Bible in how to handle this. To keep this list a secret is wrong. To not allow victims to report a minister is wrong. To not take more steps to protect children is wrong. To say that they are “very committed to protecting not just children but members.” is a lie. If there are no action to back up their words then it is a lie. To have knowledge of these evil doers and not acting on that information is wrong according to the Bible and just plain common sense.
    If what they say is true that they are so committed — then they should prove it — So far they have proved just the opposite.
    I am sorry, this is longer than what I had wanted and did not mean to take too much of your time
    It appears very much like the people who are supposed to be leaders are more concerned about being sued by adults then protect children. It seems to me that if they felt there was enough to put someone on this list then I would think people have a right to know and to make an educated decision if they want that person as a minister and put their own children at risk.
    As in my case and others — the church where these men are pastors — just know what the few who make decisions decide they should know — who are they to make that decision — Would you want your children put at risk
    If the leaders of your particular church decide not to inform you — are you okay with that — are you okay with putting your child at risk
    This list in their own words are abusers who have been convicted or confessed to or they have enough evidence on them to put them on the list — so why would they not make it public
    They could put a disclaimer on it when they release it
    If they are so worried about being sued
    Did not leaders long ago not want people to learn how to read — as they feared them gaining knowledge — Everyone should have the right to have knowledge before making a decision — Keeping such a list secret from parents is just as wrong
    Thanks for listening
    Debbie V