SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Hundreds of Southern Baptist church leaders and workers have been accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years, including dozens who returned to church duties, according to a joint investigation by two newspapers.
The San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle reported Sunday that their six-month investigation found about 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and workers who were accused of sexual misconduct since 1998, leaving more than 700 victims. Some were as young as 3 years old while others were adults when they were abused, the newspapers reported.
According to the newspapers’ database, four of the people on the list have ties to Louisiana. One associate pastor was convicted of sex crimes in St. Tammany Parish. A youth minister was convicted of a dozen felonies, including sex crimes, in Orleans Parish.
About 220 offenders — among them pastors, ministers, Sunday school teachers, deacons and church volunteers — have been convicted or have taken plea deals, with dozens of cases still pending. Nearly 100 are still in prison, according to state and federal records. Dozens of others made plea deals and served no time. More than 100 are registered sex offenders, and some have returned to the pulpit. At least 35 church pastors, employees and volunteers who exhibited predatory behavior were still able to find jobs at churches.
Several past presidents and prominent Southern Baptist Convention leaders have been accused by victims of concealing or mishandling abuse complaints within their churches or seminaries, the newspapers reported.
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