NASHVILLE (BP) – A previously undisclosed list of alleged and convicted sexual abusers, compiled over several years by an employee of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee board, is now publicly accessible online at https://www.sbc.net/satf/.
“The release of the list is a step toward taking sexual abuse seriously in the SBC,” Executive Committee interim President Willie McLaurin said in a statement to Baptist Press. “Truth and transparency are the guardrails that lead toward transformation.
“Southern Baptists made it clear that they want transparency in the area of sexual abuse. I am committed to serving our convention by making simple, common-sense steps that position us to reach the nations and the neighborhoods with the Gospel.”
Executive Committee Chairman Rolland Slade told Baptist Press he hopes the releasing the list "will show transparency and a commitment to learn from our past. My hope is the survivors will know that they are seen and believed. Their stories have come out into the light. I know I have asked continually for patience, and how challenging that is for many who have waited decades to be believed or have their stories come fully to light. I ask that because we are stepping into unchartered waters. And while the waters may be choppy and stormy, we will be with the One Who stills the storm.”
The list, which had grown to 585 names as of August 2018, has been reviewed by legal counsel and the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Task Force. Redacted are names of survivors, confidential witnesses and alleged abusers against whom allegations could not be substantiated.
Slade described the release of the list as an act of faith.
“To me, we have been asked to step out of the boat and walk with our Lord on the water. We must keep our eyes focused on Him or we will sink,” Slade said. “The time is now for action, not words. We must move forward with focus, intentionality and determination. If we do not, we will not see healing.”
The Sexual Abuse Task Force, which hired Guidepost Solutions to conduct the independent investigation, described the parameters of the list.
“A credibly accused pastor, denominational worker, or ministry employee or volunteer includes one who has confessed in a non-privileged setting, who has been convicted in a court of law, or who has had a civil judgment rendered against them,” the task force said in a statement to the media. “Additionally, an independent third party who has been hired by any church or other Baptist body, may determine, by preponderance of the evidence following an inquiry, that a pastor, denominational worker, or ministry employee or volunteer is credibly accused.”
Executive Committee interim counsel Gene Besen previously announced the Executive Committee's intent to redact names as appropriate before the release of the list.
“That list was unknown to most of the EC staff and to the trustees,” Besen said during the May 24 EC meeting. “We will release Mr. Boto’s list as soon as we are confident that we have redacted all survivor names, confidential witness names and any unsubstantiated allegations. It’s our commitment and intent to review the unsubstantiated allegations and if more can be substantiated, we will release those as well. We’ll do that in connection with our conversations with the Task Force and we’ll do so with the best guidance and advice we can get from experts in this field.”
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