According to a report by Guidepost Solutions, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention suppressed sexual abuse reports for decades and consistently opposed proposed reforms. Survivors pressed repeatedly for the organization to assemble and distribute a list of known offenders, “only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the EC,” according to the Guidepost Solutions report. The leadership maintained that the organization’s decentralized structure prevented it from taking action.
The Guidepost disclosures – many revealed in 2019 in an expose by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News – were not all new news. According to Ed Litton, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, speaking on ABC News Live, “The rumors were always out there that these things were happening. There were several attempts made at our convention meetings to bring this to light. But they were very successfully pushed down.”
The Guidepost report reveals that Roger Oldham, an employee of the church’s Executive Committee kept a secret list of 703 church workers, including ministers, who were credibly accused of sexual abuse. According to the Guidepost Solutions report, no one took any action to remove abusers. At the time of the report, they identified nine who remained in active ministry.
Oldham worked for D. August “Augie” Boto, the Executive Committee’s long-time vice president and general counsel. Boto is referenced repeatedly in the Guidepost report as the leader of the efforts to silence survivors and head off litigation. Boto referred to survivor efforts as, among other things, a “satanic scheme” and “the devil being temporarily successful.” Both Boto and Oldham retired in 2019.
After a Zoom meeting of the 68-member board on May 24, 2022, the leadership announced that it would reveal the names on the list. The Convention’s interim president and chief executive, Willie McLaurin, issued an apology to survivors and indicated that the abuser’s names would be released
In the report, Guidepost Solutions recommended the creation of an “Offender Information System.” Gene Besen, counsel to the Executive Committee, indicated that Guidepost Solutions will continue to work with victims. The Sexual Abuse Task Force, appointed during last year’s annual meeting in Nashville, will make formal motions based on the Guidepost report. Other actions based on the report will be considered at the annual convention, to be held in Anaheim, CA in June.
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