Sexual abuse by church leaders has made headlines in Hawaii and in other states. Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have vowed to make changes following investigative reports released by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News that revealed decades of sexual abuse by church leaders and volunteers. According to the reports, about 380 Southern Baptist preachers and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct since 1998. Many of these allegations have led to criminal convictions. Almost 100 of those who have been accused of sex crimes are currently incarcerated.
The reports revealed that over 700 victims, including children and teenagers, had been subjected to molestation or rape, and many of the incidents occurred in church classrooms and offices. Many victims stated that they had been threatened or intimidated by church leaders and had been told to remain silent about the abuse.
Church leaders have acknowledged their concern about the problem on social media and blog posts. The president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission stated that churches should be thankful for the reporting and stated in a blog post that information in the report was alarming and scandalous. He also expressed sympathy for the victims and acknowledged their courage for coming forward.
Victims of child sexual abuse by a church leader may be eligible to file a lawsuit for compensation for damages for the physical and psychological trauma they have suffered. An attorney may be able to help victims seek justice by interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence to demonstrate that churches failed to protect their members from harm.
Source:The Huffington Post, "Southern Baptist Leaders Promise 'Change' After Report Uncovers Rampant Sexual Abuse", Dominique Mosbergen, Feb. 11, 2019