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Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Last Updated: February 1, 2024

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest Protestant denomination today in the United States, connecting around 14 million members across more than 47,000 churches. However, the SBC has been rocked by a sexual abuse scandal that reaches back across at least two decades. An independent investigation found that its leaders – including those on the Executive Committee (EC) – willfully covered up a large number of sexual abuse reports over a period of several years. According to the report, abuse survivors made repeated attempts to report issues to the EC, only to be met with silence and, at times, outright “hostility.” While it is not known how many people were abused by SBC clergy and staff members over a period of 20 years, there are potentially thousands of survivors who could join the SBC abuse lawsuits and be eligible for compensation.

Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse Cases

At the moment, it is not clear how many sexual abuse cases are linked to the Southern Baptist Convention. Yet, reports suggest that abuse was widespread, with 100s of individuals, including clergy, accused of sexual misconduct, with that conduct then allegedly covered up by the church’s hierarchy. Indeed, while the major investigations into the SBC have been focused on the abuse from the years 2000-2021, there is evidence that SBC sexual abuse and subsequent coverups go all the way back to the 1960s. As such, there are potentially thousands of sexual abuse survivors who have not been afforded justice.

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Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse News & Updates February 2024

  • February 1, 2024 - Immanuel Baptist pastor calls for independent inquiry into church's handling of sex abuse allegations.
  • January 1, 2024 - Southern Baptist Convention settles high-profile lawsuit that accused former leader of sexual abuse.
  • December 1, 2023 - Harriet Sugg , a former teacher at The First Baptist Church of Orlando, an Orlando Christian private school faces several charges of sexual activity with a minor.
  • November 1, 2023 - Church sex abuse victims "sickened and saddened" by Southern Baptist Kentucky court filing.
  • October 1, 2023 - Former Round Rock pastor sentenced to prison after discovery of child pornography stash.
  • August 1, 2023 - Rev. Darius Pridgen, True Bethel Baptist Church served with sex abuse lawsuit.
  • July 1, 2023 - Southern Baptists face issues including women in pulpit, sex abuse reform.
  • June 1, 2023 - Southern Baptist Convention changes who will be in the sex abusers' database.
  • May 1, 2023 - SBC Seminary and a prominent former leader settle a high-profile lawsuit for abuse. SBC is still defending.
  • April 1, 2023 - Houston Republican party activist, Jared Woodfill, knew for years of child sex abuse claims against Southern Baptist leader.
  • March 1, 2023 - Southern Baptists expel five churches for having women pastors and one church for sexual abuse. This week, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee voted to expel 6 churches for allegedly mishandling sexual abuse allegations and 5 for having female pastors.
  • February 1, 2023 - A suspended Southern Baptist pastor accused of sexually assaulting another pastor's wife on a beach vacation has defiantly returned to the pulpit at a new church in Florida. After an eight-month hiatus due to the Southern Baptist Church's report on sexual abuse, Pastor Johnny Hunt, 69 returned to preaching Sunday. The Southern Baptist Church's sexual abuse report found that he had sexually assaulted his wife, a pastor, in 2010. This was in 2010, while on vacation.
  • December 1, 2022 - Victims of sexual abuse of the SBC have reported their problems for decades to the church's executive committee, but they were ignored or met resistance.
  • November 1, 2022 - Sex abuse allegations brought forward against former Broadmoor Baptist Church youth pastor, David Ingram in Jackson, MS.
  • October 18, 2022 - Raymond L. Lambert II, a former pastor of a fringe church in McDonald County again facing sexual abuse charge. Lambert is facing a new charge that he raped an underage girl.
  • September 1, 2022 - Jonathan David Young, 38, a former Benson (NC) Sunday school teacher, was found guilty by a Johnston County jury of sexually assaulting underage girls at a church.
  • August 14, 2022 - US investigating Southern Baptist Convention over the church sexual abuse. Southern Baptist Convention leaders announced that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating several major entities of the denomination in light of multiple clergy sexual abuse allegations.
  • July 1, 2022 - Bellevue Baptist church reaches settlement with a teenaged sexual abuse victim who sued the Baptist church.

Since the publishing of the SBC sexual abuse report on May 15th, 2022, there has been a call for SBC abuse survivors to come forward to pursue justice. The report makes clear that there are 100s of SBC-linked individuals with credible sexual misconduct allegations against them. However, there may be more cases of abuse across the 47,000 churches under the SBC. Those perpetrators of abuse could face criminal charges, and significant compensation could – and should – be paid to the abuse survivors. We expect to see new 2022 SBC sex abuse lawsuits launched this year as more survivors come forward to share their stories and pursue justice in the courts. SBC sex abuse law firms are asking for survivors to contact them to join the campaign for justice.

Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse Scandal

While any individual case of sexual abuse is considered a heinous crime, several elements of the SBC sex abuse cases combine to make a national scandal. First, there is the scale of the abuse. As we have said, it goes back over at least two decades – and potentially many more – with 100s of individuals affiliated with the SBC cited as potential abusers. However, there is also the fact that those in positions of power within the SBC organization were engaged in a massive coverup. Some leaders of the SBC, including former President of the Executive Committee Ronnie Floyd, have resigned over the handling of the sex abuse scandal. But survivors deserve more than a couple of resignations.

Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Sexual Misconduct In Southern Baptist Convention

The Southern Baptist Convention investigations found that sexual misconduct was carried out by individuals at all levels of the organization. This includes church volunteers, pastors, staff, leadership, and even some of those in the church’s hierarchy. Those who were abused were silenced and intimidated by the church’s leaders. 

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About the Southern Baptist Convention

History of Southern Baptist Convention

Founded in 1845 in Georgia, the Southern Baptist Convention is a Christian denomination (church). It is the world’s largest Baptist church, with close to 14 million members across the United States. While it retains the prefix “Southern” due to its founding in Georgia before the Civil War, the SBC is a pan-national organization with churches and members in all 50 states. The structure of the SBC is set up in such a way as to ensure autonomy among different churches and state conventions, but there is a central authority, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. The EC is made up of 86 trustees who serve terms on the committee. This commitment to autonomy is important for the context of the SBC sex abuse scandal, as it is one of the reasons the SEC decided not to create a national database for staff or clergy members who were charged or convicted of sex abuse offenses. And yet, the SBC Executive Committee did create a database of offenders, albeit a secret one. At one point, over 700 staff, clergy, and other SBC associates accused of sexual abuse were said to be on the EC’s private list. Thus, the SBC lawsuits for sexual abuse survivors allege that the church’s hierarchy covered up years of abuse allegations, silencing survivors and even adding to their anguish through intimidation.

Southern Baptist Convention 2021

The 2021 annual convention for the SBC was seen as a turning point for the church facing up to its role in the sex abuse scandal. Prompted by newspaper investigations in 2019 that uncovered the abuse and coverups, the members voted in 2021 to allow an independent investigation into SBC sex abuse and coverups. Guidepost Solutions, an independent security and investigations company, was chosen to conduct an in-depth report on the matter. While a secular company, Guidepost Solutions is considered a go-to firm for religious organizations dealing with sexual abuse. In the past, it has produced reports dealing with sexual misconduct in the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Christian Today.

Southern Baptist Convention 2022

The results of the independent investigation by Guidepost Solutions were published in May 2022. The Guidepost sexual abuse report both confirmed the earlier reports by the 2019 newspaper reports and uncovered a wave of new evidence about sexual misconduct and the silencing of the abused. The SBC had a mixed reaction to the revelations in the report, with some of the church’s leaders vowing to reform the SBC and others maintaining that they did not agree with the claims. In mid-2022, the SBC released a list of those accused of sexual abuse and misconduct.

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If you or a loved one were a victim of improper sexual behavior by a Baptist church member, we can help you fight for your rights and compensation.

Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been affected by the SBC sex abuse scandal, you should consider contacting an SBC sexual abuse lawyer. Law firms specializing in handling sexual misconduct cases are already preparing litigation proceedings against the SBC, affiliated churches, and individual perpetrators. The sheer scale of the sexual abuse and the coverup means that there are potentially thousands of lawsuits that can be brought against the organization. However, every survivor’s story is important, and anyone affected by the abuse and actions of the SBC to hide that abuse should be given access to justice. Sexual abuse is a sensitive subject, and SBC sexual abuse lawyers will handle all claims and inquiries with discretion. 

Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Report

The reports on sexual abuse and misconduct at the SBC came in two waves. First, there were the initial investigations by two Texas news organizations – The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News – in 2019. These newspaper reports had many parallels with scandals in other churches, notably the Catholic Church sexual abuse “Spotlight” investigations led by the Boston Globe. Unlike the Catholic Church, the SBC tried to hide behind the fact it is a loosely affiliated organization of churches with no central authority. However, there remains a hierarchy in the SBC, including its Executive Committee, and it was clear that those in positions of power tried to cover up the sexual abuse. This was later confirmed by the independent report ordered by the SBC, which was published in May 2022. The findings of the independent report show large-scale sexual abuse and coverups at SBC churches. And now, survivors deserve justice through the United States legal system.

Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abusers List

Full Name of Abuser Year Reported State News Update
Matthew William Brewer 2021 TN Matthew William Brewer, a youth pastor at a Baptist church in TN was among 18 men arrested in a human trafficking operation last week, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
David Nims 2021 FL David Nims, a youth director at a FL was arrested 3 times in two months after a hidden camera was discovered in a church bathroom.
Roy Edward Williams 2021 OK Roy Edward Williams, a former preacher, pleaded guilty to 5 counts of coercion and enticement of a minor in Indian Country and to possession of child pornography.
Jason Thomas 2020 TX Jason Thomas, a former Coppell pastor accused of sexual assault blames his actions on "an evil inside of him".
Erbey Valdez 2019 TX Erbey Valdez, pastor of New Spirit Baptist Church, San Antonio, TX. Valdez was charged in a case involving a 17-year-old and Texas Penal Code 43.25 (d), "Sexual Performance by a Child" a 2nd-degree felony.
Benjamin Widrick 2019 TN Benjamin Widrick, 24-year-old Camillus man, was charged with 3 counts of statutory rape. Widrick has been accused of raping a student while interning at a church in TN, according to Tennessee authorities and church leaders.
Phillip Jerard Buckson 2019 SC Phillip Jerard Buckson, pastor, Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church, SC, gave a full confession and charged with 4 counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
Jacob Lee Coyle 2019 IL Jacob Lee Coyle, youth pastor from East Peoria, IL, was charged with criminal sexual assault and aggravate criminal sexual abuse.
Jim Cude 2019 TX Jim Cude, minister of music and band director, First Baptist Church Whitesboro, TX, arrested for online solicitation of a minor.
Charles Lyons 2019 IL Charles Lyons, resigned as pastor of Armitage Baptist Church, Chicago, IL, in 2019, after disclosing his long term sexual abuse of a minor in the 60s.
Stephen Morris 2019 NC Stephen Morris, pastor of Oliver’s Grove Baptist Church, Four Oaks, NC, was arrested and charged with 5 counts of statutory rape and 5 counts of taking indecent liberties with a 13 year old child.
Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Report

Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse FAQs

What Is The Southern Baptist Convention?

The Southern Baptist Convention is a religious denomination with churches and members across the United States. It is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States today, and the second-largest religious denomination overall.

Who Is The New President Of The Southern Baptist Convention?

Ed Litton was elected as the 63rd President of the SBC in June 2021. Litton has responded to the SBC sexual abuse scandal report by saying the church needs “to take deliberate action to address these failures and chart a new course.”

How Many Churches Are In The Southern Baptist Convention?

Around 47,000 churches are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC has around 14 million members.

What Happened At The Southern Baptist Convention?

A series of investigations have found that there was widespread sexual abuse carried out at SBC churches by its clergy, staff, and other church-linked individuals over a period of twenty years. Moreover, it is alleged that members of the SBC hierarchy spent years covering up the abuse, stonewalling survivors and protecting perpetrators.

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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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