NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Sunday, an independent investigation conducted by Guidepost Solutions found that the Southern Baptist Convention failed to adequately address sexual assault allegations made against clergy members for nearly two decades.
Last year, SBC’s Executive Committee called for the independent review. The 288-page report found that victims who tried to come forward were met with resistance and hostility.
The investigation found a sexual assault allegation against SBC President Johhny Hunt credible. The accusation claimed that Hunt assaulted the wife of an SBC pastor back in July of 2010.
In addition, the report found that sexual abuse accusations were mishandled, and victims were mistreated. Guidepost found that despite church leaders collecting reports of abuse for more than 10 years, their main concern was avoiding potential liability.
Guidepost issued several recommendations of how SBC should prevent and handle sexual abuse moving forward.
In response to the report, SBC’s Executive Committee shared the following statement with News 2:
“This afternoon we received—and are reviewing—the report from the Sexual Abuse Task Force.
“To the members of the survivor community, we are grieved by the findings of this investigation. We are committed to doing all we can to prevent future instances of sexual abuse in churches, to improve our response and our care, to remove reporting roadblocks, and to respond to the will of the messengers in Anaheim next month.
“This important report reflects months of thoughtful, careful, and diligent work by chairman Bruce Frank, task force members, and Guidepost Solutions. We sincerely express our heartfelt appreciation for their diligent and thorough work.
“To the members of the Sexual Abuse Task Force, your work is a major contribution that will help ensure Southern Baptist churches are safer for women, men, girls, and boys. Southern Baptists owe you a debt of immense gratitude.
“This is the beginning of a season of listening, lamenting, and learning how to address sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention. And this report contains recommendations to guide us how to appropriately respond to:
* Allegations of abuse.
* Mishandling of abuse.
* Mistreatment of victims.
* Patterns of intimidation of victims or advocates.
* Resistance to sexual abuse reform initiatives.
“God has blessed the Sexual Abuse Task Force and Guidepost with His wisdom in developing this report and offering insight into how we all can take steps to eliminate sexual abuse within the Convention. In striving for this goal, we recognize there are no shortcuts. We must all meet this challenge through prudent and prayerful application, and we must do so with Christ-like compassion.
“We have requested the members and staff of the SBC Executive Committee to closely examine the findings and recommendations of this report and begin formulating how they might be incorporated into Southern Baptist Convention polity and structure. On Tuesday, May 24, the SBC Executive Committee will hold a special-called meeting to discuss and process this report.
“To the members of SBC churches, we ask for continued prayers for wisdom as the Sexual Abuse Task Force and the SBC Executive Committee move through the process that Southern Baptists have asked us to do.”
Chairman, SBC Executive Committee
Interim President/CEO, SBC Executive Committee