Southern Baptist contributors aspect alleged grooming, sexual misconduct amongst clergy in new record - NBC news

in the summer of 2010, a pastor and his spouse initially Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia, noted they obtained an invitation to holiday in Florida with Johnny Hunt, a senior pastor of their church whom they considered a mentor.

The 55-yr-historic church leader had been elected national president of the Southern Baptist convention two years earlier, making him one of the crucial strongest participants of the biggest denomination of Protestants within the U.S.

Hunt allegedly helped to book them a place in Panama city seaside that, unbeknownst to them, become at once beside his unit within the identical house complex, the unnamed young couple talked about in a 288-page blockbuster investigative file launched Sunday by means of the Southern Baptist conference. When the pastor's spouse arrived by myself after a day trip, she noted she become greeted through Hunt, and that they interacted from their respective balconies.

but when she invited him internal her apartment to escape the heat and continue their conversation, right through which she observed she opened up in regards to the stress she and her husband have been beneath at the church, he grew to be aggressive, she stated to investigators, as particular in the record. in response to her, he pulled down her shorts, made sexual remarks about her physique, and then pinned her to the sofa and pulled up her shirt. She referred to within the record that he groped her and sexually assaulted her with his palms and mouth.

Moments later, she mentioned in the report, Hunt — who is married with two grownup daughters near her age — texted her to return out to her balcony to talk about what had came about. as a substitute of an apology, she said, he made a proposition that they have got sex 3 times a day.

Johnny Hunt Johnny Hunt, then the president of the Southern Baptist convention, addresses the group's national assembly in Louisville, Ky., in 2009. Ed Reinke / AP

Hunt didn't immediately return a request for comment Monday about the allegations, but in an announcement posted on Twitter following the file's liberate, he denied its contents while also saying he had now not yet read the findings of their entirety.

"to position it bluntly: I vigorously deny the cases and characterizations set forth in the Guidepost record. I actually have by no means abused any one," he wrote.

The report unique widespread allegations of sexual misconduct among named clergy and a canopy-up involving the upper echelons of the Southern Baptist convention.

The denomination's executive committee shriveled an outside company, Guidepost solutions, an impartial advisor that conducts investigations on behalf of faith-primarily based organizations, to launch an inquiry after delegates voted overwhelmingly for one ultimate summer season.

In its wake, Ronnie Floyd, a Southern Baptist conference president from 2014 to 2016, resigned in October as head of the govt committee.

The file additionally goes over a number of reforms the church could implement, together with creating and maintaining an "culprit suggestions system" to alert the community to alleged offenders, and proscribing using nondisclosure agreements and civil settlements that bind accusers to confidentiality in sexual abuse matters.

A church project drive will latest its own strategies in line with the document during its annual assembly subsequent month in Anaheim, California.

Southern Baptist Convention Attendees worship right through the Southern Baptist convention annual meeting in Phoenix in 2017.Matt York / AP file

Already, the response from some prominent leaders of the Southern Baptist conference and followers has based on a requirement for sweeping changes that make sure the accused are not protected and the abused are not silenced.

"What turned into posted is heartbreaking, with some parts just horrifying," tweeted J.D. Greear, a North Carolina pastor and Southern Baptist conference president from 2018 to 2021 who has spoken in assist of intercourse abuse victims. "We don't have any option but to study from our past and change the long run."

in keeping with the record, current Southern Baptist convention President Ed Litton pointed out in a press release Sunday that there "are not enough words to express my sorrow on the issues revealed in this record" and that Southern Baptists "have to get to the bottom of to trade our lifestyle and implement desperately needed reforms."

Litton couldn't be reached Monday for extra comment.

one more leader of the denomination, Kevin Ezell, the president of the Southern Baptist convention's North American Mission Board, pointed out he turned into ignorant of any misconduct allegations towards Hunt, who resigned from a leadership place with the board greater than a week ago.

"I realized the details of the file these days together with the relaxation of our Southern Baptist household," Ezell said, adding that the details in the document are "egregious and deeply traumatic."

He noted he declined to talk publicly about Hunt's resignation unless after the Guidepost record become released "out of respect for the investigation."

Neither the woman who accused Hunt of misconduct nor her pastor husband were named within the Guidepost report, which comes after a 2019 investigation with the aid of the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio categorical-news documenting two decades value of circumstances, through which pastors and deacons in Southern Baptist church buildings allegedly abused tons of of people while for probably the most part remaining of their posts. based on the newspapers' document, church leaders pledged to protect victims and produce about exchange.

according to Guidepost investigators, Hunt gave an "strange amount of consideration" to the pastor's spouse while on the church and "groomed the couple with flattery and promises of assist in ministry."

The investigators stated they interviewed other witnesses who helped corroborate the pastor and his spouse's allegations, together with a counseling minister in the beginning Baptist Church who validated being latest for a session between Hunt and the couple, all over which, he observed, Hunt admitted to the lady's husband that he sexually assaulted her. At that meeting, the couple additionally stated Hunt pointed out, "Thank God I didn't consummate the relationship," in line with the report.

Hunt additionally didn't automatically respond to a request for remark about their accusations.

The alleged "survivor states that on the time she believed that, although she didn't consent to what Dr. Hunt did to her, she was made to consider it become consensual as a result of she didn't battle back," the report stated.

in addition, Guidepost investigators talked about the counseling minister advised them that he remembered Hunt announcing that "if this (story) received out, it may negatively influence forty,000 church buildings."

The investigators observed they interviewed Hunt twice, and throughout the 2d occasion he stated he had familiar the younger pastor and considered himself a "potent have an impact on" on his lifestyles. firstly, investigators pointed out, Hunt did not consider spending any very own time with the couple nor inviting them to Panama city seashore however later remembered seeing the pastor's wife on the neighboring balcony however had "no contact in any way."

"He additionally restated that it changed into not true that he changed into on the balcony or within the condominium," the document talked about. "When requested notably about even if he kissed her, pulled at her shorts, or fondled her, he referred to no. He denied sexualized comments about her look, panties, tan lines, or perfume."

The Guidepost report goes on to mention different instances in which church leaders are accused of concealing wrongdoing. They consist of excellent leaders at Prestonwood Baptist Church in suburban Dallas, probably the most greatest church buildings in the country, allegedly maintaining a music director accused of abuse within the 1980s and failing to inform police.

The track minister, John Langworthy, become "quietly fired" and moved to Mississippi, "where, in 2011, he confessed to his congregation at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton that he had committed 'sexual indiscretions' with teenage boys throughout his time at Prestonwood and before when he changed into in Mississippi," based on the report.

Langworthy could not immediately be reached for remark Monday.

John Langworthy Former Clinton high school choir director and music minister John Langworthy and his wife, Kathy, stroll right into a court in Jackson, pass over., in 2013.Rick man / AP file

Langworthy pleaded guilty to five counts of gratification of lust concerning incidents in Mississippi from 1980 to 1984 and changed into sentenced in 2013 to a complete of fifty years but avoided penitentiary beneath a plea deal.

In an announcement, Prestonwood Baptist denied how the Guidepost document characterized the circumstance and talked about the church has "certainly not covered or supported abusers, in 1989 or seeing that."

all the way through the record, churchgoers who say they had been abused by means of clergy at a lot of Southern Baptist church buildings throughout the country informed investigators how they had been many times stonewalled in their efforts to be heard.

Jennifer Lyell, a former executive at a Christian media publishing company who got here ahead publicly in 2019 about sexual abuse, become described within the record as saying she had later been subject to harassment with the aid of fellow churchgoers, with some calling her a "whore" and "bitter jealous girl."

Lyell talked about she changed into a pupil at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary when the abuse started, and she or he decided to talk out after studying the person she accused of abuse had again to ministry.

The seminary's president, Albert Mohler, stated in an announcement that he become aware the Guidepost file would encompass information about Lyell's accusations in opposition t a college member.

"From the beginning we were organized and decided to assist the investigators in any approach viable and to aid their work," Mohler referred to. "What came about to Jennifer was sexual abuse, absolutely. The unencumber of the record is the beginning and never the conclusion of our problem as a convention of church buildings."

"The actual examine for Southern Baptists is in how we deal with these sins," he added, "now that they have got been uncovered and are within the light."

prison suggestions for the Southern Baptist conference's executive committee advised The linked Press in February that the physique apologized to Lyell prior this yr and gave her a personal financial agreement concerning how it handled her case.

but Lyell tweeted Monday that there must be additional accountability for all.

"There are lots of causes to reside silent in a condition corresponding to this," Lyell spoke of, in accordance with the record. "however we ought to no longer be silent."

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