Sexual abuse being tied to religious institutions is nothing new and the controversy involving the Southern Baptist Church has demonstrated that little has changed. Past controversies involving the Catholic Church and their coverup of the sexual abuse that is rife amongst their clergy are echoed in the latest news of the Southern Baptist Church’s similar reckoning.
Currently, the Southern Baptist Church has been shaken to its core by the exposure of not only large amounts of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the church but also the actions that were taken by the leadership of the institution to cover up these crimes.
A report was released on May 22nd, 2022 by Guidepost Solutions, an independent investigation firm, with nearly 300 pages of findings painting an upsetting picture of how deep and widespread the coverups and abuse are. In addition to this, a list of abusers kept by Southern Baptist leadership has since been made public and revealed the extent of sexual crimes committed by the Southern Baptist clergy.
Consider Filing a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit to Hold the Southern Baptist Chuch Accountable
Those that have suffered abuse at the hands of the Southern Baptist church and have had their voices suppressed deserve justice for the harmful misconduct of the Southern Baptist Convention. Filing a sexual abuse lawsuit in civil court not only can provide a reprieve from the damages suffered because of the trauma one has experienced, but it can also provide healing and closure to a source of intense pain for many.
Civil lawsuits over sexual abuse do not simply exist to seek compensation for plaintiffs. They also serve to hold those responsible for sexual abuse and further related harm accountable for their misconduct which for many is worth more than any settlement.
About Dolman Law Group
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers is a respected and experienced law firm that exclusively represent victims of personal injury and tragedy. One of the most important legal areas that we handle is representing survivors of church sexual abuse. We understand that it takes immense courage to stand up to your church and speak out. We know it’s hard. And it should always be your choice to come forward. But if you are ready, we are ready too. Contact us today to learn your rights to compensation and see if we can help you seek justice against your abuser.
Dolman Law Group has a long track record of success. We have recovered tens of millions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts for our clients, including those who have been harmed, abused, and betrayed by their church. Our past successes cannot guarantee the outcome of future cases, but they do prove that we are a law firm with the experience, resources, and know-how to tackle the most personally and legally difficult matters.
We do our jobs with empathy, compassion, and determination, and never shy away from standing up to the most powerful institutions. Contact us today and schedule a free, private consultation.
The Southern Baptist Church Sexual Abuse Controversy
The report by Guidepost Solutions that has provided extensive evidence and details regarding the Southern Baptist Convention’s wrongdoing came about thanks to a great deal of previous investigative and whistleblowing efforts on the part of many journalists, advocates, and sexual abuse survivors.
The Southern Baptist Church has long experienced complaints of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of their clergy and many among the congregation were more than aware of the problem. Advocates within and outside of the church have pushed for action to be taken in the form of establishing a database that would keep track of sexual abuse complaints filed against the church. One such push for a database in 2007 was rejected by the church’s executive committee due to concerns revolving around legal liability and individual church autonomy. Later on, it would be revealed that the church administration actually had been lying and keeping a secret list of abusers.
The Abuse of Faith Series and the 2019 Call for Sexual Abuse Investigation
It would not be until 2019 that the problem of rampant abuse within the Southern Baptist Church would become unignorable when the Houston Chronicle put out a series of articles titled Abuse of Faith that covered the issue in depth. This article was made possible because, despite the Southern Baptist Church leadership’s attempts to sweep the issue under the rug, activists and journalists have over the past two decades, kept track of the many cases of sexual abuse involving southern baptist pastors and leaders.
This led to the creation of a database by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News that collected all the cases they knew of involving sexual abuse perpetrated by the Southern Baptist Clergy. Journalists found that 380 members of the Southern Baptist Church ranging from pastors to Sunday school teachers had been credibly accused of sexual abuse with at least 218 of them being convicted of or pled guilty to sex crimes over the past two decades.
These sex offenders would often go on to either return to the church after serving time or would simply be moved to other congregations which contributed to over 700 victims of sexual abuse recorded in the database. After the release of Abuse of Faith, outrage over the revelation led to the Southern Baptist Convention voting to have an independent party investigate the claims which has brought us to the report made by Guidepost Solutions.
Suppression of Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse Claims by Convention Leadership
Perhaps the most controversial part of the Abuse of Faith series and the independent report on Southern Baptist sexual abuse was not the abuse itself but the actions taken by the leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee and other administrative bodies. Survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Southern Baptist pastors and leaders would come forward with traumatic stories in order to seek help from church leaders they trusted only to be ignored, rebuffed, intimidated, or even vilified within their own churches.
Similar to the controversy the Catholic Church still is dealing with to this day, the Southern Baptist Church often would attempt to minimize or cover up the abuse perpetrated by the church. What is worse is that the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention were more than just aware of the situation. Despite calls for an official database of clergy and staff accused of abuse or sex crimes, Southern Baptist Convention leaders instead not only rejected the idea but hypocritically kept their own secret list of sex offenders within the church.
You Can Seek Compensation for Sexual Abuse Damages Through a Civil Lawsuit
Those that have suffered sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Church have finally experienced validation of the claims they have been making for decades. Having their pain acknowledged in the mainstream media has provided a certain degree of relief for many Southern Baptist sexual abuse survivors but there is still much that needs to be done.
The Southern Baptist Convention and the leaders of the Southern Baptist Church whose negligence contributed to the widespread sexual abuse need to be held accountable. Some of these sexual predators have or will be brought to justice through a criminal trial but this is not always an option.
Civil Lawsuits Over Sexual Abuse Vs. Criminal Trials
Even if this is the case, survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by Southern Baptist clergy may be able to file civil lawsuits. Sexual abuse lawsuits in civil court can sometimes hold parties that contribute to sexual abuse through negligence accountable because the burden of proof is lower in civil cases and a defendant does not have to be convicted in criminal court for you to file a lawsuit in civil court.
Southern Baptist Church Liability for Sexual Abuse Damages
The Southern Baptist Church is the largest protestant denomination in the United States with 47,530 member churches and 14,525,579 individuals claiming membership. Unlike the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention may not have direct control over every individual church that claims membership but they do hold immense influence and the power to revoke membership to disavow congregations that break from their values
The Southern Baptist Convention still had the power and the knowledge necessary to take necessary action requested time and time again by advocates and sexual abuse survivors yet failed to do so. Their negligence in failing to use their influence and knowledge to address the problem of sexual abuse amongst their clergy and instead knowingly letting sexual offenders and abusers they kept a list of work in these member churches makes them liable for damages Southern Baptist sexual abuse survivors suffered.
The Damages Inflicted By Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is a crime that inflicts scars both physical and psychological that many have to live with for the rest of their lives. Damages in a civil lawsuit are the losses that one suffers as a result of harm caused by a defendant. These damages are typically split between economic and non-economic types with punitive damages occasionally being added.
Economic damages consist of losses of a financial nature that are easily quantifiable in terms of a dollar amount. On the other hand, non-economic damages are intangible losses related to one’s emotional and psychological state.
Punitive damages are awarded in extreme cases where gross negligence is concerned. They serve to punish the defendant, as the name implies, and discourage similar negligence.
Common Damages Claimed in Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
- Medical Bills
- Cost of Future Medical Care
- Lost Wages
- Lost Earning Potential
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Relocation Expenses
- Loss of Consortium/Companionship
- Pain and Suffering
What Constitutes Southern Baptist Church Sexual Abuse?
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual threats and harassment
- Indecent exposure
- Child pornography
- Sexual assault
- Lewd conduct
- Statutory rape
These sexual crimes do not have to only be committed by a pastor. Church staff as well ranging from Sunday school teachers to youth ministers can perpetrate these crimes. Regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, or age, you can seek compensation through a sexual abuse lawsuit if you experienced any of these actions.
A Lawyer is Essential for Holding The Southern Baptist Convention Responsible for Sexual Abuse
Filing a sexual abuse lawsuit is anything but simple and requires not only specialized knowledge gained from years of rigorous schooling but also experience. Without a lawyer, you will be fighting on an uneven playing field with the opponent having the advantage. The saying “The man who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer” exists for a reason and not heeding its warning can end with you losing more money than if you had not filed a lawsuit in the first place.
Picking the right sexual abuse attorney to represent you in a sexual abuse lawsuit can mean the difference between success and failure. A sexual abuse lawyer provides a multitude of services beyond just representing you in the courtroom. Your sexual abuse lawyer can:
- Provide you a safe, confidential space to discuss your experience and the damages you’ve suffered
- Advise you on the most suitable legal path to take
- Ensure you file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations
- Determine which state laws apply to your case and how to use them to your advantage
- Inform you about the updated laws that make it easier to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions
- Gather enough evidence to build a strong case against the perpetrators
- Calculate all damages incurred and come up with the compensation amount you deserve
- File a clergy abuse lawsuit on your behalf
- Negotiate a settlement with the parties involved
- Represent you in court if necessary
Dolman Law Group Church Abuse Attorneys
Dolman Law has been representing survivors of sexual abuse for years and knows just how sensitive these cases can be. Our firm places an emphasis on working closely with clients and developing an empathic yet efficient strategy that works for them.
The Southern Baptist Church’s lack of action taken despite their knowledge of sexual abuse perpetrated among their clergy is negligence that demands consequences. Dolman Law Group can help you take legal action not only to secure compensation for damages but also to make sure that those who contributed to the widespread abuse in the Southern Baptist Church are held accountable.
Having Dolman Law represent you not only means you have award-winning and nationally recognized legal representation but an ally that is actually invested in the outcome of your case. Consider speaking to the lawyers of Dolman Law Group about the details of your case in a free consultation. Our lawyers can provide you with invaluable information about what legal options are available to you and what our firm brings to the table.