While the Catholic church has suffered much of the attention for hiding child molesters and abusers, the Southern Baptist Convention was outed this week for hundreds of complaints.
An extensive joint report from the Houston Chronicle and The San Antonio Express-News outlined the accusations dating back to 1998. The project took the papers more than six months to gather the details and search for accusers.
The first of three parts was printed Sunday revealing 380 leaders and staff who were accused of some form of sexual abuse. Of those, approximately 220 have been convicted or took a plea deal and 100 remain behind bars.
These accused abusers left an estimated 700 victims in their wake. Some survivors were as young as 3-years-old.
“So many people's faith is murdered,” said one accuser, whose alleged abuser is still a minister. “I mean, their faith is slaughtered by these predators.”
At least 35 church pastors, staff and volunteers participated in predatory behavior, yet they were able to find other jobs at different churches after the accusations. Like the Catholic church, there were many cases where the church never alerted law enforcement. Sadly, many also didn't warn the congregations where the accused moved.
Some of those convicted became registered sex offenders and were still allowed to return to the pulpit — others who were accused never left.
According to the Chronicle and Express-News, the Southern Baptist Convention is being criticized by many victims for the corrupt handling of an obvious coverup of complaints of abuse.
One case detailed a Houston, Texas preacher who sexually assaulted a teenager, but now serves as the principal of a nonprofit that works with student groups. The name of the organization is named Touching the Future Today Inc.
The feature image inside the Chronicle's story is a collage of the hundreds of mugshots that once looked out from pews. They were leaders whose victims sought guidance or advice but what they got was the furthest thing from God.