Minister accused of molesting a dozen boys by no means investigated
(RNS) – A Georgia pastor has identified up to 13 boys whom he says were sexually abused by a Southern Baptist pastor whom denomination leaders acquitted two years ago when they refused to come after inquire of the church where the pastor worked.
Troy Bush, the pastor of Rehoboth Baptist in Tucker, Georgia, said he opened his own investigation into the pastor, a former Rehoboth Baptist employee, after learning about a former member of his church from the pastor in the 1980s has been sexually abused.
The minister was never charged. But Bush said the minister confessed to himself and others that he molested several boys in half a dozen Georgia Baptist churches during his tenure.
At about the same time, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee working group declined to inquire further about the Trinity Baptist Church in Ashburn, where the pastor served.
“I think the way this was handled was bad and potentially catastrophic as it protected this person and made it possible to remain in a pastoral role in one of our churches,” Bush said, referring to the decision of the Working group not to initiate an investigation.
Bush penned a June 14 article in SBC Voices, an independent Southern Baptist blog, detailing his findings.
The specter of sexual abuse is back on the agenda for the Southern Baptist Convention meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday June 15-16 in Nashville, Tennessee, amid explosive allegations that tops of the denomination mistreated multiple sexual abuse allegations and sex bullied have abuse survivors and hastily ended investigations into churches where sex abusers are supposed to work.
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Several pastors and victims of sexual abuse are now calling for a fuller investigation into how the 14 million member denomination deals with allegations of sexual abuse.
“It’s like the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts: kick the can down,” said Dave Pittman, 53, who claims he was sexually abused by the pastor from 1982 to 1985 as a boy at Rehoboth Baptist Church. “It’s still the truth.”
Pittman’s story was detailed in the Houston Chronicle’s 2019 “Abuse of Faith” investigation which found that approximately 700 people were sexually abused in churches in southern Baptist churches. Pittman never charged his perpetrator because the Georgia statute of limitations had expired.
This series of stories led Southern Baptist Convention President JD Greear to identify 10 churches where he believed the denomination needed to determine whether they employed sex abusers or allowed them to volunteer with children. A week later, an executive committee working group declined to consider seven of these churches, including Trinity Baptist.
With the help of Pittman, who was once a member of his church, Bush identified 10 boys, now men, who have admitted to being molested by the pastor who has since left Trinity. Bush said he had received credible but as yet unconfirmed reports of two other men the pastor allegedly molested in Georgia Baptist churches and a 13th who was not a church member.
Members of the executive committee’s working group, including Mike Stone, who was beaten Tuesday while running for the presidency of the SBC, said they did not have the authority to investigate the churches that were removed from Greear’s list.
Bush said they acted too soon.
“Those doing this research should have done at least a sufficient level of information gathering,” he added. “In the case of Trinity, that didn’t happen.”
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