Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest U.S. Protestant denomination, stonewalled and denigrated survivors of clergy sex abuse over almost two decades while seeking to protect their own reputations, charged a scathing investigative report issued Sunday, the Associated Press reports. These survivors repeatedly shared allegations with the church's executive committee (EC) “only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the [committee],” said the report. The seven-month investigation was conducted by Guidepost Solutions, an independent firm contracted by the committee after delegates to last year’s national meeting pressed for a probe by outsiders. “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 ... and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC,” the report said.
The report asserts that a staffer maintained a list of Baptist ministers accused of abuse, but there is no indication anyone “took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches.” The most recent list includes the names of hundreds of abusers thought to be affiliated at some point with the SBC. Survivors and advocates have long called for a public database of abusers. The report’s key recommendations were: Form an independent commission and later establish a permanent administrative entity to oversee comprehensive long-term reforms concerning sexual abuse and related misconduct within the SBC. Create and maintain an Offender Information System to alert the community to known offenders. Restrict the use of nondisclosure agreements and civil settlements which bind survivors to confidentiality in sexual abuse matters, unless requested by the survivor.