NASHVILLE (BP) – A previously undisclosed list of alleged and convicted sexual abusers, compiled over several years unbeknownst to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee board, is now publicly accessible online.
EC Chairman Rolland Slade and interim EC CEO/President Willie McLaurin announced intentions May 24 to release the list, just days after its discovery. It had been compiled by an unnamed EC staff member under the direction of former EC Vice President Augie Boto, Guidepost Solutions revealed May 22 in a detailed report of the EC’s handling of sexual abuse complaints from 2000-2021.
McLaurin said the release of the list is a vital step toward transparency and transformation.
“The release of the list is a step toward taking sexual abuse seriously in the SBC,” he said in a statement to Baptist Press. “Truth and transparency are the guardrails that lead toward transformation.
“Southern Baptists made it clear that they want transparency in the area of sexual abuse. I am committed to serving our convention by making simple, common-sense steps that position us to reach the nations and the neighborhoods with the Gospel.”
Slade expressed hope that the release of the list speeds transparency, healing and a brighter future.
“My hope is that it will show transparency and a commitment to learn from our past,” Slade told Baptist Press. “My hope is the survivors will know that they are seen and believed. Their stories have come out into the light.
“I know I have asked continually for patience, and how challenging that is for many who have waited decades to be believed or have their stories come fully to light,” Slade said. “I ask that because we are stepping into unchartered waters. And while the waters may be choppy and stormy, we will be with the One Who stills the storm.”
The list, which had grown to 585 names as of August 2018, has been reviewed by legal counsel and the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Task Force. Redacted are names of survivors, confidential witnesses and alleged abusers against whom allegations could not be substantiated.
Slade described the release of the list as an act of faith.
“To me, we have been asked to step out of the boat and walk with our Lord on the water. We must keep our eyes focused on Him or we will sink,” Slade said. “The time is now for action, not words. We must move forward with focus, intentionality and determination. If we do not, we will not see healing.”
The Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF), which hired Guidepost Solutions to conduct the independent investigation, described the parameters of the list.
“A credibly accused pastor, denominational worker, or ministry employee or volunteer includes one who has confessed in a non-privileged setting, who has been convicted in a court of law, or who has had a civil judgment rendered against them,” the SATF said in a statement to the media. “Additionally, an independent third party who has been hired by any church or other Baptist body, may determine, by preponderance of the evidence following an inquiry, that a pastor, denominational worker, or ministry employee or volunteer is credibly accused.”
EC interim counsel Gene Besen previously announced the EC’s intent to redact names as appropriate before the release of the list.
“That list was unknown to most of the EC staff and to the trustees,” Besen said during the May 24 EC meeting. “We will release Mr. Boto’s list as soon as we are confident that we have redacted all survivor names, confidential witness names and any unsubstantiated allegations. It’s our commitment and intent to review the unsubstantiated allegations and if more can be substantiated, we will release those as well. We’ll do that in connection with our conversations with the Task Force and we’ll do so with the best guidance and advice we can get from experts in this field.”
Roger “Sing” Oldham, who formerly served on the SBC executive committee as vice president for convention relations and communications, released an open letter on May 27 to SBC leadership, members of SBC sexual abuse task force, the SBC executive committee and various Baptist media outlets. The letter questioned Guidepost’s characterization of Boto’s list. Oldham’s letter was published by the Tennessee Baptist and Reflector on May 27 here.