Warning: This article describes events that could be triggering to survivors of sexual assault.
In the wake of recent reports detailing allegations of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), many SBC church members and attendees have come forward to say they suffered abuse at the hands of pastors and other church personnel. If you are a survivor of sexual assault or were sexually abused as a child at an SBC church, we want to hear your story and help you hold the SBC accountable.
At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., we have advocated for clients across Alabama for over 50 years. Our highly respected attorneys are dedicated to providing clients with compassionate legal representation and helping them pursue compensation from the people who hurt them.
Contact our church sexual abuse lawyers today for a free, confidential review of your case and legal options. We are ready to help.
Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Allegations
According to recent news reports, some of the SBC’s top leaders have covered allegations of sexual assault and abuse for almost two decades. This year’s investigation conducted by Guidepost Solutions found that the SBC’s executive committee members refused to cooperate with sex abuse survivors who came forward, belittled them, and failed to take action against alleged abusers. According to the report, the SBC also failed to warn member churches of potentially abusive pastors and personnel.
An SBC executive committee member recently turned over a list of alleged and convicted sexual abusers who were part of the SBC. That list has since been made public, and evidence suggests other executive committee members may have kept personal lists of alleged abusers. According to news reports, 33 Alabama church officials are on the list.
These allegations come after a cultural reckoning over sexual abuse and institutional abuses of power sparked largely by the #MeToo movement, which has illuminated how businesses, religious organizations, and other institutions have mishandled sexual abuse reports. The SBC sexual abuse coverup is a prime example of how those in power try to silence survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault. The Southern Baptist church abuse scandal is similar in many ways to the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases that first came to light two decades ago after years of church officials covering them up.
Resources If You or a Loved One Was Sexually Abused
If you were sexually assaulted or abused by a Southern Baptist Convention clergy member or other church official or volunteer, resources are available to help you cope with the trauma you experienced. Guidepost Solutions has a hotline for survivors who want to report sexual abuse in the SBC. All calls are confidential, and survivors will be put in touch with an advocate: dial 202-864-5578 or email SBChotline@guidepostsolutions.com.
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is a nonprofit organization with a confidential 24/7 hotline that will connect you with a trained staff member. You can call 1-800-656-4673 or use an online chat system to get support. You can also visit a rape crisis center in your area. The Alabama Department of Public Health provides a list of centers by county. These groups can help you find professional help and assist you with contacting the authorities.
Cases Seen During the SBC Scandal
The Guidepost Solutions report implicates hundreds of SBC church pastors and personnel in instances of sexual abuse and sexual assault over multiple decades. Those accused of these horrific crimes include pastors, youth ministers, and other church workers and volunteers who allegedly abused children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly.
The report also outlines different kinds of abuse alleged to have occurred in the SBC. The appalling allegations include rape, inappropriate touching, physical abuse, and sexual exploitation. As with the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases, church leaders often used their authority to block survivors from coming forward. Those who did were often met with hostility and insults.
What Rights Do Sexual Abuse Survivors Have?
If you have been abused by a pastor or someone working for the Southern Baptist Convention, you should know your legal rights. Under the 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), you have the right to seek compensation for expenses related to your abuse. Under VOCA, survivors of sexual assault are eligible to receive funds from the Crime Victim’s Fund through your state’s victim compensation program. You can be reimbursed for expenses you’ve already incurred and those you know you will have in the future. For example, the Alabama Crime Victims’ Compensation Commission provides survivors with money to pay for medical bills and counseling.
Depending on when the abuse occurred and your age at the time, it may be too late for your abuser to be charged with a crime. However, you may be able to find closure and attain some degree of justice through a civil lawsuit. While a lawsuit cannot send an abuser to jail, it can help you recover compensation for expenses like medical bills and for the emotional impact of the abuse you experienced – such as pain and suffering – as well as other losses due to the abuse.
In most cases, you have a limited time to file a lawsuit in civil court – usually two years from when the abuse occurred. However, if you were abused as a child, you likely have extra time to file a lawsuit. You should speak with our church sexual abuse lawyers to determine how much time you have to file a suit.
Contact Our Compassionate Lawyers Today
Church leaders and others who take advantage of their congregants and prey on children must be held accountable. The allegations of sexual assault and abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention are appalling, and the SBC sexual abuse coverup is despicable.
If you were sexually assaulted or abused by someone affiliated with the SBC, we want to hear from you and see that justice is done. Contact Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., today for a free, confidential consultation with one of our respected Alabama sexual assault lawyers.