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Guidepost SBC

Southern Baptist Convention Denounces Guidepost Report: Court Docs Show

There are around ten lawsuits going on within and around the Southern Baptist Convention right now. The Rollins v Pressler case in Texas is one of the older high profile cases, and court documents show that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention does not believe that the Guidepost Report published last May was factual.

According to documents filed by the on behalf of Gareld Duane Rollins Jr. the Southern Baptist Convention has made attempts to argue that the Sex Abuse Task Force Report paid for by the Southern Baptist Convention is inadmissible because its “inauthoritative” and it “hearsay.”

Only a handful of publications were willing to call out the shoddy reporting done by Guidepost Solutions, especially prior to Megan Basham of the Daily Wire calling the report into question in last June.

According to court filings:

Southern Baptist leaders have expressly disclaimed that Plaintiff’s theory of liability reflects its internal policies. Plaintiff has been clear that he seeks to hold SBC and ECSBC directly and vicariously liable for, inter alia, their role in Pressler’s ongoing sexual abuse. His theory of liability is corroborated in no small part on the Southern Baptists’ admissions in the Guidepost Report. For decades ECSBC’s leadership has been running this same playbook to avoid any “ascending liability” based on the rampant sexual abuse that it knew was occurring in its member churches. And it did so on behalf of SBC. The Guidepost Report explained that:

  • “[F]or many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse . . . [and] were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations.” Guidepost Rep. at 3.
  • “In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy—even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.” Id. (emphasis added).
  • Worse still, ECSBC “maintain[ed] a list of [703] accused ministers in Baptist churches,” id. at 4, and actively hid that list for “fear of ascending liability, which drove their resistance to stepping in to help with sexual abuse issues.” Id. at 130.

Incredibly, in its Plea to the Jurisdiction, ECSBC and SBC claim that holding them liable for these actions will directly implicate the church’s “internal affairs” and policies. If they are attempting to make a judicial admission that the playbook laid out in the Guidepost Report was an officially sanctioned, religiously endorsed policy for handling sexual assault, Plaintiff will not object. But that certainly has not been ECSBC or SBC’s position to date. In fact, both SBC and ECSBC have run from the Guidepost Report, asking this Court to exclude it from evidence as inauthentic and hearsay (despite those entities being entirely responsible for its publication). Nor does that position mesh with the Southern Baptists’ public pronouncements from its leaders. The Guidepost Report itself was a part of a larger reform effort in which the church tried to disown its sordid history with sexual abuse. The Southern Baptist Convention messengers voted to investigate ECSBC’s prior leadership and waived privilege to allow its legal strategies to come to light. See Guidepost Rep. at 15-18 (describing background and scope of engagement). And SBC’s president, Bart Barber did an entire 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper in which he demeaned ECSBC’s strategy of ignoring sexual abuse within the church and intimidating witnesses. See Barber Dep. at 30 (discussing contents of his interview with 60 Minutes). ECSBC has even specifically issued press releases “publicly repent[ing]” for statements by Augie Boto, its former general counsel and the architect of ECSBC’s strategy to avoid “ascending liability” by ignoring sexual abuse. Id. at 57.2

Simply put, ECSBC and SBC cannot have it both ways. They cannot disown the evidence of their internal handling of sexual assault in public and in this case while simultaneously arguing that any liability for those same actions would violate official religious doctrine and internal policies.

The Guidepost Report is now subject to two defamation lawsuits in addition to being used as evidence against the Southern Baptist Convention in this lawsuit, among others. Despite the fact that the Sex Abuse Task Forces Report concocted by Guidepost Solutions found zero instances of sex abuse or sex abuse cover up that were previously unknown, the Southern Baptist leaders have willingly maligned their denomination as a hive of sex abuse and sex abuse cover ups.

H/T @SBCLitigation

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