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Bart Barber Guidepost Solutions

Discovery Allowed In David Sill Lawsuit Against SBC

David Sills was the most prominent figure portrayed as a sex abuser, despite the allegations against him categorically not being sexual abuse. As a result, David Sills filed a lawsuit in Alabama seeking recourse for defamation. The Mississippi resident’s case in Alabama has been contested with minimum contact grounds in Alabama, which has resulted in the lawsuit being filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

The lawsuit itself is not substantively different than what was filed in Alabama. The lawsuit is filed against Southern Baptist Convention, SBC Executive Committee, Jennifer Lyell, Ed Litton, Bart Barber, Al Mohler, Willie McLaurin, Rolland Slade, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, LifeWay Christian Resources, Eric Geiger, Guidepost Solutions and their parent company Defendant SolutionPoint International, Inc.

The complaint is as follows:

  1. Plaintiffs file this complaint against Defendants alleging defamation, conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence concerning untrue claims of sexual abuse declared by Defendant Jennifer Lyell, and, thereafter repeated and published by remaining Defendants, as well as untrue claims that Mrs. Sills aided, abetted, facilitated, or otherwise enabled the said sexual abuse.
  2. Plaintiff Sills did not, at any time, sexually abuse Defendant Lyell.
  3. Plaintiff Sills did not ever force himself upon Defendant Lyell.
  4. Plaintiff Sills never used violence against Defendant Lyell and never threatened to use violence against Defendant Lyell, or anyone else.
  1. Importantly, Plaintiff Sills did not engage in sexual intercourse with Defendant Lyell, at any time, whatsoever.
  1. At all relevant times, Defendant Lyell was well above the age of consent (i.e., 26 years of age) when she met Plaintiff Sills. Defendant Lyell initiated and aggressively cultivated and maintained a personal and emotionally intimate relationship with Plaintiff Sills.
  2. While as an acquisitions editor for Moody Publishers in Illinois and later as a senior publishing executive for Defendant Lifeway in Tennessee, Defendant Lyell would drive several hundred miles and many hours just to see Plaintiff Sills and his family.
  3. Plaintiff Sills ended the relationship with Defendant Lyell who nevertheless persisted in her pursuit of Plaintiff Sills and undertook efforts to reach him through his family.
  4. Notably, Plaintiff Sills never denied that an inappropriate relationship took place, and, consequently, he rightly resigned from positions within the Southern Baptist Convention (“SBC”).
  5. When it was revealed that the relationship was consensual, however, Defendant Lyell did not accept the reproach from SBC members despite its truth. Instead, Defendant Lyell, relying on her expertise as an accomplished writer and executive in the fields of advertising and publishing within the SBC, a lucrative and powerful position, constructed a false narrative against Plaintiffs at the height of the nationwide awareness of the SBC scandals.
  6. Defendant Lyell worked frantically to restore her reputation and preserve her powerful position of doling out lucrative book deals, while affirmatively and skillfully dismantling the reputations, careers, and family life of Plaintiffs.
  7. The SBC Defendants were at the same time confronted with and trying to manage a decades old scandal within the SBC concerning actual predators harming innocent victims, many of whom were children. Rather than seek the truth, however, Defendants repeated and circulated the false statements made by Defendant Lyell about Plaintiff Sills, causing him to be cast out as a toxic pariah. After various mischaracterizations, misstatements, and contrived investigations by Defendants, Plaintiffs have been wrongfully and untruthfully labelled as criminals and shunned by the SBC and every other religious organization with which Plaintiff Sills has tried to associate.
  8. As a result of the Defendants’ acts and omissions, Plaintiffs have suffered significant reputational harm, emotional distress, physical pain, and financial loss.

This week, the judge in the federal lawsuit issued a win for David Sills allowing the discovery process to commence even with outstanding motions to dismiss left to adjudicate.

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The motion to stay discovery was denied. According to SBCLitigation:

To be clear, the various motions to dismiss are still pending. In theory, this order doesn’t address the merits of defendants motions. It just says that discovery can be collected. But, it means the case is not as lopsided as the SBC defendants claimed.

It appears this case isn’t going away any time soon, as SBC et al hoped.

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