Child sex abuse cover-up allegations rock Southern Baptist Convention

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, has been rocked by allegations of widespread sexual abuse by pastors, church employees and officials.

A 2019 independent investigation resulted in a 300-page report that uncovered sex abuse cases dating back more than two decades. The report revealed that denomination leaders ignored and covered up sex abuse allegations while vilifying sex abuse survivors. At least 200 abusers within the SBC have been convicted or pleaded guilty to sex offenses, according to independent news reports.

We can help.

About the SBC Sex Abuse Report

The report uncovered details about specific abuse cases and exposed how denomination leaders actively resisted calls for abuse prevention and reform for decades. The investigation also revealed that for nearly two decades, survivors of abuse and concerned Southern Baptists had been contacting the SBC’s administrative arm to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff members. It’s unclear how many more may be charged as a result of the investigations. Many of the cases referred to in the SBC-commissioned report were considered outside the statute of limitations and were not investigated.

The internal probe is the first of its kind into a large Protestant denomination. It was conducted by an organization named Guidepost Solutions at the request of the Southern Baptist Convention, a coalition of independent churches with approximately 14 million members as of 2018.

Sex Abuse Cases First Brought to Light by Journalists 

The investigation followed a 2019 report by journalists from two Texas newspapers that exposed hundreds of alleged cases of sex abuse within the church.

Journalists at the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News teamed up to create a database of cases that grew to include nearly 300 church leaders and more than 700 victims. The journalists’ efforts culminated in a series published in 2019 called “Abuse of Faith,” which revealed that at least 218 people in the church had been convicted or pleaded guilty to sex crimes over a period of two decades. Some of these people remained in their positions at the church or returned after serving prison time.

In December 2023, the SBC reached a confidential settlement resolving a lawsuit accusing Paul Pressler, a longtime Southern Baptist figure and former Texas judge, of rape beginning a 14-year-old member of Pressler’s church youth group in Houston. As a result of the lawsuit, at least seven other men came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Pressler spanning four decades.

In January 2024, the SBC announced that the DOJ had concluded the executive committee investigation without filing charges. The DOJ declined to comment whether investigations into individual incidents remain open.

How We Help Sex Abuse Victims 

Our Hawaii sexual abuse lawyers work one-on-one with survivors, offering a direct, personal level of care and discretion. We use our decades of experience battling big organizations to fight on behalf of survivors, aggressively taking on those responsible for the pain and suffering they’ve caused. Our results obtaining justice for victims speak for themselves. If you are a survivor of childhood or adult sexual abuse, we can help.

Category: Child Sex Abuse


View All

We Can Help

We provide free initial consultations. If you believe you or a loved one has a claim or a potential lawsuit, we are willing to meet with you to evaluate your claim with no obligation on your part. To learn more about your legal rights and options, please contact us to receive a free initial consultation.

Free Case Evaluation

Full Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.