Mississippi gay man says Baptist teacher raped him for three years so he’d hate men
A Gulfport, Mississippi man says that he was repeatedly molested by a teacher at the conservative Christian school he attended in the 1990s, beginning when he was 14 years old and ending when he was 17.
The Washington Blade reported that Jeff White said his teacher at Bethel Baptist School in Wills, Mississippi justified the abuse by calling it “ex-gay therapy,” designed to make White “hate men.”
White told the Blade that he was enrolled at Bethel from 1996 to 1999 and that his appointments with the accused teacher took place every Wednesday.
“He would rape me because I was gay and because it would make me hate men and make me change,” White said in a July interview.
White’s parents sent him to the school when he came out to them at the age of 14. The teacher is now an associate pastor at Bethel Baptist Church, which operates the Christian school. The church is known for its hardline approach to Christian doctrine.
“[Bethel’s pastors] looked at Southern Baptists like they were liberal faggots, like they would say from the pulpit,” White told the Blade.
“In general it was a cult,” he said. “Aside from all of that other stuff going on, there was a thousand other things that they were doing.”
The Associated Press said that White was forced to have oral and anal sex with the pastor every week.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights aided White in filing a suit against the teacher with the DeSoto County, Mississippi Sheriff’s Department. The law firm Hawkins and Gibson is nationally known for its work helping survivors in clerical sex abuse cases.
Samantha Ames — an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights — told the Blade that her organization is proud to be working with White.
“I just can’t overemphasize how proud we are to represent someone this courageous,” she told the Blade. “He’s honestly one of the bravest, one of the most determined people I have ever met and he has a unique, first-hand understanding that these attempts to change sexual orientation and gender identity are linked to a culture of hostility to LGBT people and when you combine that kind of hatred and self-loathing with a position of power, whether it’s in a religious leader or a licensed therapist, people get hurt, sometimes irreparably.”
So-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy for minors has been outlawed as a form of child abuse in California and New Jersey, with other states set to follow suit. Exodus, International — the once-thriving Christian organization dedicated to “conversions” of LGBT people — closed its doors last year. Exodus director Alan Chambers issued a formal apology to all of the LGBT people who were harmed by his ministry and efforts to change their orientation.
The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department has launched an investigation into the matter. Bethel Baptist did not release an official statement, but told the AP that it intends to cooperate with the department.
[image of man in black suit wearing handcuffs via Shutterstock.com]