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Southern Baptist Convention Under DOJ Investigation For Sexual Abuse

child sexual abuseNASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (August 13, 2022) – Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have said a number of major entities within their organization are under investigation for clergy sexual abuse, according to NPR.

An executive for the SBC was issued a subpoena, according to the organization’s lawyers. Officials that represent the SBC did not give very many details about the investigation. But they did say it dealt with widespread sexual abuse allegations that have plagued the church.

The investigation by the Department of Justice comes just a few months after a blistering report released by the SBC. That report was made in response to numerous articles investigating widespread sexual abuse within the church.

Southern Baptist Convention leaders said that they deeply regret past mistakes they have made related to sexual abuse. They told reporters that they have a firm conviction to address past issues and implement measures to prevent other instances of abuse.

Sexual abuse survivors and members of the SBC have continued to share their experiences. Many have celebrated the Department of Justice investigation saying it may well bring long needed reform.

Numerous lawsuits have also been filed against the church alleging negligence and indifference on their part.

Liability For Clergy Sexual Abuse Within The Southern Baptist Convention

Sexual abuse within protestant organizations such as the Southern Baptist Convention has been a widespread problem for many years. But unlike the Catholic Church, it has been much more difficult to study and prosecute. The Catholic Church has a very centralized leadership structure with all major issues eventually coming to the Vatican. But there are tens of thousands of protestant denominations with different organizational structures. It has been estimated in a new study that nearly 1 in 10 young protestants have left a church over sexual abuse. There are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent clergy sexual abuse.

  • The public should be properly educated about clergy sexual misconduct and abuse of power.
  • Churches should have a code of ethics and clear role expectations. Leaders should also have appropriate oversight and support.
  • Sexual abuse within any organization should be reported to the authorities and properly investigated.

Sexual abuse often stems from abuses of power. A church leader such as a pastor is considered an authority figure. For small children, they are an authority figure in both their role as an adult and a leader within the organization. It is a crime in California and other states for any adult to engage in any type of sexual behavior with a minor. Pursuant to California Penal Code 288, it is a crime for a person to commit any lewd or lascivious act on a child under 16 years of age. This includes touching a child’s body for sexual purposes. The touching does not need to be on bare skin. Any person that sexually assaults a child or an adult could face civil liability for their actions.

Depending on the facts of any case, liability for any instance of clergy sexual abuse could extend beyond an individual perpetrator. Organizations like the Southern Baptist Convention must adequately supervise their employees – especially when those employees are around children. When an organization fails to properly protect people within their care from reasonably foreseeable sources of harm, this could form the basis of a negligence claim. In many situations, churches knew (or should have known) that a person who engaged in sexual misconduct had other allegations that were made against them. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any instance of sexual abuse.

  • There should be a thorough, independent investigation into what happened.
  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • Relevant surveillance footage should be sought.
  • Potential medical records of the assault should be preserved.

Sexual assault can be extremely disruptive and harmful to a person’s well-being. Indeed, survivors are often plagued with negative long-term health outcomes and are more prone to suicidal ideations. Any person who is sexually assaulted by a member of the Southern Baptist Convention or any church may have legal recourse through a civil claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. A clergy sexual abuse lawyer can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.

Getting Legal Help After Clergy Sexual Abuse

We at Carrillo Law Firm extend our best wishes to everyone who has been subjected to clergy sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention. It is our sincere hope that the investigation by the Department of Justice will shine some much needed light on the widespread nature of the abuse within the SBC. Church leaders should do the right thing and take action to protect their congregation from further abuse.

Have you or someone that you care about been abused by clergy from the Southern Baptist Convention? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our team of compassionate and experienced clergy sexual abuse attorneys can answer any questions that you may have. We are committed to being a source of strength for our clients and getting them the support and justice that they are entitled to under the law. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, confidential consultation about your particular situation we can help. You can reach out to us anytime at (626) 799-9375 . Se habla español.



Michael works on high-profile cases that have garnered national media attention. His practice today focuses on child sexual abuse cases, police misconduct cases, catastrophic injuries and other wrongful death matters. He is a passionate advocate for his clients including the countless child sexual abuse victims he currently represents.