A place of worship is supposed to be a place of sanctuary. Why aren’t children and teenagers safe from sexual abuse within the walls of the Southern Baptist Convention?
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a Christian church — the world's largest Baptist denomination, and the biggest Protestant denomination in the United States. In an organization this size, the hierarchy should be strong enough to support a safe environment, especially for children and teenagers who are there for moral instruction before they reach adulthood. Instead, a thorough report has revealed an institution-wide cover-up of the sexual abuse of children.
At Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, we know what it takes to go up against large organizations like massive companies and international businesses. At the end of the day, that is what the SBC is: a multi-national corporation interested in protecting its brand and the reputations of its leadership above the welfare of sexually assaulted parishioners.
If you or your child was abused by someone connected with the Southern Baptist Convention, reach out to our attorneys today. If you were disbelieved, dismissed, or silenced when you asked for help after a sexual assault, call our Birmingham offices at (205) 322-8880. We are on your side, and are ready to help you explore the legal options you have to take back your power.
All of your communications with our firm will remain private and confidential — your story won't be shared with anyone. For more information on what the SBC has admitted to covering up regarding the sexual abuse of minors, read on.
Yes, there has been a cover-up of sexual abuse by the Southern Baptist Convention. The facts are as follows:
The revealed internal record is a 205-page list (partially redacted) that can be accessed on the SBC’s website here.
The third-party report stated explicitly, “Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior [Executive Committee] leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the response to these reports of abuse [...] and were singularly focused on avoiding liability.” That is evidence of the cover-up that so many victims endured and bravely spoke out about.
The third-party report on SBC sexual abuse cases found that “survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action [...] — even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.”
Current allegations against individuals and authority figures in the Southern Baptist Church include:
Knowing how wide-spread these incidents have been, and how many allegations ultimately resulted in convictions and jail time for the perpetrators, it is unconscionable that so many survivors were stonewalled or dismissed. The prolonged and formalized nature of this sort of treatment from churches, schools, and other community clubs is a known phenomenon referred to as organizational or institutional abuse.
Institutional abuse is the mistreatment of individuals by a system of power, whether by neglect or active harm. Regardless of their denomination or faith, religious organizations have a high potential to conceal sexual abuse allegations in the interest of maintaining the “greater good” of the institution itself. These kinds of structural cover-ups lead to exponential and ongoing suffering, often across many generations.
If you or your child have been sexually assaulted or received unwanted sexual advances from someone at your church, here are important steps:
Seeking justice can help survivors find real closure and move on to a brighter future. Your decision to pursue legal action against an SBC church leader could result in a settlement that affords you access to any medical or psychological care you need to heal.
A lawsuit also helps expose wrongdoers in your church, cleaning up the institution that so many trust, and protecting innocent children from the unacceptable predatory abuses of adults.
We encourage you to seek survivor counseling outside of the church's network until you can safely return.
Reach out to Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann by calling (205) 322-8880 as soon as you are ready. Justice for you could help bring about life-saving changes for your church, your community, and the children they’re meant to protect.
There are ongoing lawsuits against the SBC, including a class action suit for anyone sexually abused by an individual affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. You also have the option to pursue an individual personal injury lawsuit. Our lawyers will help explain the differences and answer any questions you may have at no cost to you.
The choice about how to seek justice is yours to make, but time may be running out.
Each state has a different expiration date on when a person can pursue a case based on sexual abuse. In Alabama, where our law firm is headquartered, a civil sexual abuse lawsuit must be filed:
Some states like Colorado and California have opened up time restrictions, especially for children who cannot act on their own until adulthood. There are no such exceptions available in Alabama at this time, even in cases where repressed memories or DNA analysis reveal new information. However, despite the current situation, it is still worthwhile to be part of the process to prevent these violations from occuring again — we encourage you to reach out and share any information you have that may aid our investigations.
A statute of limitations may be in effect for your state, which is a law that sets a time limit on when you can begin legal proceedings. The clock starts ticking on the date of the alleged offense, and if time runs out, you may lose your chance for justice.
The Southern Baptist Convention is not the only church or youth-affiliated institution that has been found covering up sexual assaults by leadership. The Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the Church of Scientology have all been involved in similar legal cases, as are youth groups like the Boys & Girls Club and the Boy Scouts of America.
It is unacceptable that young children and people of faith have been abused in churches where they should have been safe. If you or your child were exploited by a church leader, if you were silenced by the mechanisms of the institution, you deserve better.
The attorneys at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann can be reached by calling (205) 322-8880, or by filling out our confidential online form. Your decision to pursue a legal action today could help cleanse your church of bad actors, and save the innocence of future children. We are here to help you do good in the world by seeking justice.
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