CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In response to an explosive investigation, top Southern Baptists have released a previously secret list of hundreds of pastors and other church-affiliated personnel accused of sexual abuse.
The 205-page database was made public late Thursday. It includes more than 700 entries from cases that largely span from 2000 to 2019 within the largest Protestant denomination in the country.
Its existence became widely known Sunday when the independent firm, Guidepost Solutions, included it in its bombshell report detailing how the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee mishandled allegations of sex abuse, stonewalled numerous survivors and prioritized protecting the SBC from liability.
Executive Committee leaders Rolland Slade and Willie McLaurin, in a joint statement, called publishing the list “an initial, but important, step towards addressing the scourge of sexual abuse and implementing reform in the Convention."
“Each entry in this list reminds us of the devastation and destruction brought about by sexual abuse,” they said. “Our prayer is that the survivors of these heinous acts find hope and healing, and that churches will utilize this list proactively to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us.”
The Guidepost report, released after a seven-month investigation, contained several explosive revelations. Among them: D. August Boto, the committee's former vice president and general counsel, and former SBC spokesman Roger Oldham kept their own private list of abusive ministers. Both retired in 2019. The existence of the list was not widely known within the committee and its staff.
“Despite collecting these reports for more than 10 years, there is no indication that (Oldham and Boto) or anyone else, took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches,” the report said.
The Executive Committee did not make additions to the published list, but their attorneys did redact several entries as well as the names and identifying information of survivors and others unrelated to the accused, Thursday's joint statement said.
The Sexual Abuse Task Force, appointed at the demand of SBC delegates during last year's meeting in Nashville, expects to make its formal motions based on the Guidepost report public next week. Those recommendations will then be presented to the delegates for a vote during this year's national meeting scheduled for June 14-15 in Anaheim, California, according to Pastor Bruce Frank who led the task force.
Frank, lead pastor of Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, North Carolina, said the crux of the task force’s recommendations based on Guidepost’s report would be to prevent sexual abuse, to better care for survivors when such abuse does occur and to make sure abusers are not allowed to continue in ministry.
In reviewing the list, WCNC Charlotte compiled the following list of religious organizations, pastors and other church-affiliated personnel accused of sexual abuse who had connections to the Carolinas when the reported crimes were committed, according to the now-public list. Not all people listed below are directly under the SBC; some are Baptist, Free Will Baptist or similar groups.
- Abbeville Baptist Association in Greenwood, SC - Lujon Augustin “Fernando” Garcia - Garcia, 42, Hispanic Ministry, Abbeville Baptist Association, Greenwood, SC, was arrested for abusing a 13-yr-old boy in 1999. Charged with dozens of felonies in a scandal that shocked Hispanic congregants in Greenwood in 2000. Pleaded guilty to 47 charges in 2001 and admitted to abusing 23 children aged 5 to 13; other charges dropped in a plea deal. Sentenced to at least 50 years in prison. The Associated Press reported that police found a list of names and videotapes showing victims from Atlanta and Carson City, Nev. Incarcerated in South Carolina.
- Anchor Baptist Church’s Missions International in the Pisgah Forest, NC - Duain A. Whittemore - In 2007, Whittemore, 66, Hendersonville, NC, director, Anchor Baptist Church’s Missions International, Transylvania County, in the Pisgah Forest, NC, was originally charged for 2 counts of 2nd-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Abuse allegedly occurred between 1976-84. Whittmore was accused of abusing a 13 yr. old girl and 1 girl under the age of 16. The abuse allegedly occurred when Whittemore was director of Tabernacle Baptist Church’s Children’s Home, SC. In 2009, the Transylvania Times reported charges against Whittemore were dismissed, with a solicitor saying at the time there wasn't a certain level of proof necessary to proceed.
- Autryville Baptist Church in Roseboro, NC - Thomas Lee Elliott - Elliott, youth minister, Autryville Baptist Church, Roseboro, NC, was arrested for soliciting a minor over the internet for a sexual act and attempted indecent liberties with a minor. Registered sex offender in North Carolina with convictions of solicitation of a child by computer to commit a sex act and attempted indecent liberties with a minor. Received a suspended sentence and probation in 2011. Victim aged 14.
- Baptist State Convention of North Carolina - Coy Privette - Privette, past president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, trustee/chair of the SBC's Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and a trustee of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Retired Baptist minister and former state legislator. Pleaded guilty in 2007 to aiding and abetting prostitution and was given probation. Died in 2015.
- Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC - Anthony Phillips Denton - Denton, 57, former counselor, Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL. The abuse occurred while employed as music minister, Berean Baptist Church, Fayetteville, NC. Denton was charged with 16 counts of taking indecent liberties with children between 1977-81 in NC.
- Bethel Baptist Church, Asheville, NC - Roy Mace Honeycutt, II - In 2007, Honeycutt, II, 63, pastor, affiliated with at least 2 churches, Bethel Baptist Church, Asheville, NC, and Trinity Baptist Church, Mars Hill, NC, was charged with 6 counts of indecent liberties with a child and 2 counts of 1st-degree sex offense with a boy under age 13. The crimes dated back to the 1960s: 1 boy under age of 13, 2 boys under age of 16. The offenses occurred in 1968, 1974, and 1986. : Registered sex offender in North Carolina with four convictions, including first-degree sexual offense with a child under 13 and indecent liberties with a minor. His offenses occurred in 1986, and he was convicted June 25, 2008. Released in 2011
- Branchville Baptist Church in Branchville, SC - Marion Leon Kosier Jr. - In 1984, he was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. He was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of probation. He was a Registered Sex Offender. In 1995, when Kosier was former pastor, Branchville Baptist Church, Branchville, SC, he was arrested for exposing himself and committing a lewd action on a minor. He pleaded guilty and a year later received a six-month suspended sentence, along with two years of probation. In 2009, he was pastor of Harleyville Christian Church, Summerville, SC, and was accused of exposing himself to a 5-year-old girl.
- Brushy Creek Baptist Church in Easley, SC - Donald Chrisler Batson - Batson, youth minister, Brushy Creek Baptist Church, Easley, SC, pleaded guilty to 17 felony counts of criminal conduct and was incarcerated involving two minor girls in 1991.
- Camp Creek Baptist Church in Lancaster, SC - Dennis Fred Rutledge - In 2015, Rutledge, minister of music, Camp Creek Baptist Church in Lancaster, SC, pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a child under age11 and was sentenced to 25 years to run concurrently with a 13-year sentence he received for pleading guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor for charges involving an older girl. He was arrested for these assaults on December 31, 2013.
- Central Baptist Church in Darlington, SC - Kamron Eugene Reames - In 2015, Kamron Eugene Reames, associate pastor, Central Baptist Church, Darlington, SC, was arrested on charges he “touched a young boy.”
- Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church in SC - Phillip Jerard Buckson - Buckson, pastor, Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church, SC, gave a full confession and charged with four counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor. The Associated Press reported that Buckson had preached across Georgia, Chicago, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.
- Cornerstone Community Church in SC - Patrick Clinton Hattler - Hattler, church employee, Cornerstone Community Church, SC, was convicted of assault and battery first degree following a guilty plea involving an adult female congregant. In 2001, Hattler, had was sentenced to seven years after pleading guilty to a 2001 assault with intent to kill charge. Registered as a sex offender for an assault and battery conviction following a guilty plea involving an adult female congregant.
- Cove Creek Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC - Dallas Sherman Surrett - Surrett, former youth pastor, Cove Creek Baptist Church, Waynesville, NC (Southern Baptist), was arrested for a lewd and lascivious act on a young girl which allegedly took place in 2005. Convicted of sexual offenses in 2014. Sentenced to seven years; incarcerated from Aug. 4, 2014, to March 25, 2018. Registered sex offender.
- Ebenezer Baptist Church in West Union, SC - James Garner Smith - In 2014, Smith, 39, youth pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, West Union, SC, was charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor, a 13-year-old girl. Plead guilty to second-degree assault and battery. Offenses occurred over a period from January until June 2011 and March until May 2012. Reported by church pastor. Acts occurred at the church and in cars.
- Emerywood Baptist Church in High Point, NC - Guy Ellis Carr Jr. - In 2008, Carr Jr., deacon, Emerywood Baptist Church, High Point, NC, was a registered sex offender in North Carolina convicted in 2009 on eight counts of indecent liberties with a minor that occurred between 1976 and 1979. Imprisoned from Dec. 18, 2009, to April 10, 2013.
- First Baptist Church in Charleston, SC - Charles “DJ” Rhodes - In 2009, Rhodes, a teacher and coach at First Baptist Church of Charleston, SC, admitted to asking a 12-yr-old girl for sex through text messages. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful conduct to avoid a trial. Served 30 days. Pleaded guilty to lesser charge of unlawful neglect of a child or helpless person on May 11, 2011, South Carolina court records show. Received two years probation
- First Baptist Church in Columbia, SC - John Gleason Hubner - Hubner, 59, worked with youth at FBC, Columbia, SC. He served sentence in Maine. As of 6/02, he was awaiting trial in SC. Currently incarcerated for abusing 2 teenage girls in SC. Unknown number of girls in Maine. Listed on Sex Offender Registry
- First Baptist Church of Conestee, SC - Joshua Finney - Finney, youth pastor, FBC, Conestee, SC, sentenced to three years for second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. He is to register as a sex offender for life
- First Baptist Church in Dillon, SC - Gregory Martin Hill - Hill was a church youth group worker at FBC, Dillon, SC, and he and 14 and 15-year-old girls exchanged videos of sexual nature of themselves electronically. : Convicted (following a guilty plea) in 2012 of disseminating harmful materials to minors and received 10 years suspended sentence and five years probation. Registered sex offender in South Carolina
- Heavenly View Baptist Church in Iron Station, NC - Dewey “Eddie” White - In 2002, White, pastor, Heavenly View Baptist Church, Iron Station, NC, was found guilty of propositioning a 15 yr. old girl.
- Jonas Ridge Baptist Church in Jonas Ridge, NC - Jude Dayton Hughes - In 2016, Hughes, 50, pastor of Jonas Ridge Baptist Church and Avery County High School custodian sent pornographic photos of himself to a 17-year-old girl. Registered sex offender in North Carolina for 2016 conviction of taking indecent liberties with a student, aged 17. Sentenced to 12-months probation.
- King James Baptist Church in Bessemer City, NC - Harley Michael Keough - In 2009, Keough, pastor, King James Baptist Church, Bessemer City, NC, accused of groping multiple women. Keough will not go to prison. Convicted of two counts of sexual battery and ordered to register as a sex offender. He was given 18 months probation and would not go to prison. Died in 2013
- Lake Bowen Baptist Church in Inman, SC - Audrey Grabarkiewicz - Grabarkiewicz, former preschool teacher, Lake Bowen Baptist Church, Inman, SC, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to probation for 3 years and was to serve 120 hours of community served. Grabarkiewicz and another teacher hosted summertime sex gatherings for middle school and high school students.
- Living in Favor Global Network Churches in Goldsboro, NC - Robert Lee Adams Reaves - Reaves, former bishop of Living in Favor Global Network Churches, Goldsboro, NC, was convicted to life in prison for killing a 21-year old NC college student. Preacher of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Bennettsville, SC in the mid-1980s until 1987 when he left after being accused of criminal sexual conduct involving a boy under the age of 17. Convicted of third-degree sex charges. In 1982, he was charged of simple assault and battery.
- Mount Tabor Baptist Church in Anderson, SC - James William Bell - Bell, 26, youth minister, Mount Tabor Baptist Church, Anderson, SC, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing 4 boys in 2002. Registered sex offender in North Carolina for three 2002 convictions for criminal sexual conduct with minor, lewd acts on a child, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
- Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Cherryville, NC - Brandon James Carter - Carter was convicted in 2012 for abusing, in 2004, a 13 yr old girl. Carter was youth and music minister, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Cherryville, NC. He accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to less than two years in prison. Once released, Carter will be on probation for nearly three years and be added to the Sex Offender Registry for 30 years. Registered sex offender in North Carolina who was convicted of kidnapping against a minor and sentenced to three years.
- North Carolina Baptist Assembly in Fort Caswell, NC - Clyde Wesley Way - In 2015, Way pleaded guilty to charges regarding youth he had taken to camp at North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell while serving as volunteer student ministries team leader for the Stanly Baptist Association. North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell is a conference center for Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. In 1990, he attended FBC, Glen Burnie, MD, which is affiliated with the SBC. He also planned to chaperone another group from Richfield Baptist Church, which is associated with the CBF.
- New Hope Baptist Church in Clinton, SC - Robert David Johnston Jr. - Johnston Jr., baptist minister, New Hope Baptist Church, Clinton, SC, was charged with four counts of lewd act on a child under the age of 16.
- New Hope Baptist Church in Gastonia, NC - Paul Kevin Shives - Shives, deacon, New Hope Baptist Church, Gastonia, NC, was sentenced to prison in 2008 after being convicted of 11 charges, including indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape. He appealed, but the North Carolina Court of Appeals found no error on April 21, 2009. Incarcerated.
- New Life Baptist Church in Union, SC - Stephen Douglas Berry - Berry, associate pastor, youth pastor, convicted of criminal sexual contact with a minor. Sentenced to 15 years beginning in 2013. The victim met Berry at New Life Baptist Church where he served as youth pastor. He later challenged expert testimony in the case, but his sentence was upheld. Incarcerated in South Carolina
- New Hope Christian Academy in Fayetteville, NC - Laurie Christine Rehrer - Rehrer, 33, former teacher at New Hope Christian Academy, which is associated with New Hope Baptist Church, took a plea agreement for having sex with two teenage boys (ages 14 and 15). She was sentenced to six months in prison. She pleaded guilty to lesser counts and received five years’ probation, was ordered to stay away from boys younger than 18, and register as a sex offender. Rehrer’s father was pastor and administrator for the school. He fired her.
- Northgate Colonial Baptist Church in Camden, SC - Kevin Ogle - In 2006, Kevin Ogle, 42, former pastor, Northgate Colonial Baptist Church, Camden, SC, was arrested for cybersex with officer who he thought was 14 yr. old girl – initiated in GA. Ogle pleaded guilty to 15 charges of sexual exploitation of children. Sentenced to 20 yrs. probation and 5 yrs. behind bars. Registered as a sex offender in South Carolina for a sexual exploitation of children conviction from Georgia.
- Oliver’s Grove Baptist Church in Four Oaks, NC - Stephen Morris - Morris, pastor of Oliver’s Grove Baptist Church, Four Oaks, NC, was arrested, July 5, 2019, and charged with five counts of statutory rape and five counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. Alleged abuse of the 13-year-old victim occurred between June 2013 and June 2014.
- Piedmont Baptist Church in Kannapolis, NC - Benjamin Ross Hollifield - In 2015, Benjamin Ross Hollifield, outreach pastor, Piedmont Baptist Church, Kannapolis, NC, was arrested for sex offenses with a 13-year old member of his church
- Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Bennettsville, SC - Robert Lee Adams Reaves - Reaves, former bishop of Living in Favor Global Network Churches, Goldsboro, NC, was convicted to life in prison for killing a 21-year old NC college student. Preacher of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Bennettsville, SC in the mid-1980s until 1987 when he left after being accused of criminal sexual conduct involving a boy under the age of 17. Convicted of third-degree sex charges. In 1982, he was charged of simple assault and battery.
- Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC - Brian “Doug” Goodrich, Jr. - In 2007. Goodrich, Jr., 26, volunteer youth worker and SEBTS student, Providence Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC, was sentenced to 13 yrs. in prison in exchange for guilty pleas on 2 counts of statutory sex offense, 4 counts of 1st degree sexual exploitation of minor, 2 counts of taking indecent liberties with a child (8 boys ages 13-15 who were part of Bible study). The abuse occurred in 2005 while intern at Providence Baptist Church. Serving a 13-year minimum prison sentence for six felonies, including two counts of statutory rape and four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Incarcerated in North Carolina. Scheduled release date listed as Aug.13, 2020.
- Redacted church - redacted person's name - In 2008, an unnamed person, who was accused of sexual abuse of two girls under the age of 13 and secret peeping.
- Redacted church - redacted person's name - In 2009, an unnamed person, who was an active member and former deacon in South Carolina, was convicted of two counts of kidnapping and attempted robbery of a bank.
- Redacted church - redacted person's name - In 2010, an unnamed person, who was a bus driver and assistant pastor in North Carolina, was arrested for child abuse.
- Redacted church - redacted pastor name - In 2010, the unnamed pastor was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor for molesting two boys over the last five years.
- Redacted church - redacted person's name - In 2015, the unnamed person was arrested on charges of sharing obscene material and facilitating sexual acts involving multiple minors. He was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. Also, order to Register as a sex offender. As of 2004, had not withdrawn from SBC but was considering it
- Redacted church - redacted youth group volunteer name - On April 29, 2016, a 20-year-old youth group volunteer was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor
- Redacted church - redacted person's name - In 2017, an unnamed person, who was a pastor was charged with 13 counts of felony sexual offense with a child.
- Redacted church - redacted person's name - In 2017, an unnamed person, who was a former minister of education in South Carolina, was charged with nine counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
- Redacted church - redacted pastor name - On July 19, 2018, an unnamed youth minister was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of second-degree assault and battery.
- Redacted church - redacted person's name - In 2019, an unnamed person, who was a pastor in South Carolina, was arrested for domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. He was arrested for strangling pregnant woman outside his church. He had reportedly been arrested several times for failing to pay child support, driving on a suspended license and providing false information to police.
- Reeder Memorial Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC - Lawrence Webber - In 2008, Webber, member, member of men’s choir, lay preacher, Reeder Memorial Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC, was charged with three counts of rape of a child under 13 and five counts of indecent liberties with a child. In 1997, Webber was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child from charges stemming from a 1991 incident in Gaston County. He received a suspended sentence and probation for the crime. He was on the North Carolina Sex Offenders Registry. The pastor knew of Webber’s previous conviction. Articles stated that he was the associate pastor but the pastor stated that Webber was not employed by the church and was not involved with children in the church. He stated that as a layman Webber has preached a few sermons.
- Rocky Hock Baptist Church in Edenton, NC - Jonathan Winfield Rose - Rose, music and youth minister, Rocky Hock Baptist Church, Edenton, NC. He was arrested when his church group arrived at Ridgecrest Boys Camp in Black Mountain. He was charged with solicitation of a child by computer to commit illegal sex acts.
- Sand Hill Baptist Church in Varnville, SC - Jerry Dean Blaxton - Blaxton, youth and music minister of Sand Hill Baptist Church, Varnville, SC, and teacher at High Point Academy was arrested in June 2017. Pleaded guilty in January 2019 to one count of third-degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in Spartanburg County. Investigators found him on a file-sharing network and he had been making files available containing child pornography, 180 additional child pornographic images on computer. Serving a five-year sentence in South Carolina state prison. Court records indicate he was also ordered to complete five years probation and to register as a sex offender.
- SBC's Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. - Coy Privette - Privette, past president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, trustee/chair of the SBC's Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and a trustee of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Retired Baptist minister and former state legislator. Pleaded guilty in 2007 to aiding and abetting prostitution and was given probation. Died in 2015.
- South Carolina Baptist Convention - Mark Aderholt - In 2018, Mark Aderholt, 46, was arrested in South Carolina on charges of sexual assault which occurred in 1996-97 when Aderholt (25) was a SWBTS student. The victim was 16. In 2019, Aderholt pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily injury crimes against the victim. Plea deal. Sentence wiped clean. Will not be on Sex Offender Registry. Aderholt was employed by the IMB from 2000-2008. In 2007, IMB was informed of the abuse and an internal
investigation lead to Aderholt’s resignation. IMB did not report it to the police. He went on to be employed at Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, Central Baptist Church, North Little Rock, Arkansas, and the South Carolina Baptist Convention. In 2018, IMB’s president David Platt issued a public statement of apology to the victim. Additional investigations lead to policy changes at IMB.
- Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC - Justin Eugene Taylor - In 2007, Taylor, 27, SEBTS student was arrested on 1 count of indecent liberties with a 10-yr-old child. Taylor was suspended from SEBTS. Registered sex offender in North Carolina with three 2008 convictions of indecent liberties with a minor. Victim was 10 years old.
- St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church in Parkton or Lumberton, NC - Simpson, 42, former pastor, St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church, Parkton or Lumberton, NC, was sentenced to between 15 to 18 years for abusing a 14-yr-old and a a12-yr-old girl in 2003.
- Sunset Boulevard Baptist Church in Aiken, SC - Timothy Lynn Brumit - Brumit, former high school teacher and former pastor of Sunset Boulevard Baptist Church in Aiken, SC, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempting to entice a person he believed to be a 13-yr-old boy to engage in illicit sexual conduct and for transporting child porn through the internet
- Sunset Lane Baptist Church in Bessemer City, NC - In 2002, 34-year-old youth minister Marty Eugene Meadows was charged with indecent liberties with a minor. He was convicted of 33 charges that same year and served prison time from Sept. 30, 2002 through Oct. 30, 2010. He is registered as a sex offender in North Carolina.
- Tabernacle Baptist Church in High Point, NC - Todd Turner Brock - In 2007, Brock, 42, former pastor, Tabernacle Baptist Church, High Point, NC, pleaded guilty to charges of solicitation to commit 1st-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, participating in the prostitution of a 17-yr-old boy and dissemination obscenity – sentenced to 10-12 months in prison. He resigned from church on March 30, 2007.
- Trinity Baptist Church in Mars Hill, NC - Roy Mace Honeycutt, II - In 2007, Honeycutt, II, 63, pastor, affiliated with at least 2 churches, Bethel Baptist Church, Ashville, NC, and Trinity Baptist Church, Mars Hill, NC, was charged with 6 counts of indecent liberties with a child and 2 counts of 1st-degree sex offense with a boy under age 13. The crimes dated back to the 1960s: 1 boy under age of 13, 2 boys under age of 16. The offenses occurred in 1968, 1974, and 1986. : Registered sex offender in North Carolina with four convictions, including first-degree sexual offense with a child under 13 and indecent liberties with a minor. His offenses occurred in 1986, and he was convicted June 25, 2008. Released in 2011
- Unknown church in Boone, NC - Larry Edward Elliott - Elliott, 50, Baptist Pastor for 20 yrs., pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 15-yr-old student and was sentenced to 2 yrs. in prison. Listed on NC sex offenders registry
- Unknown church in SC - Norman Henley Keesee - Registered sex offender in South Carolina who was convicted of first-degree assault and battery in 2012. Received a 10-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty
- Unknown church in NC - Paul Burke Johnson - In 2011, Johnson, pastor, was arrested on charge of sexual battery. The abuse happened at a nursing home.
- Unknown church in NC - Robert Gibson Warrick - In 2012, Warrick, who was a deacon at an unnamed church in North Carolina was convicted of four counts of indecent liberties with a minor in 2012. Sentence and convictions upheld on appeal. Released from prison in 2015. Registered sex offender in North Carolina.
- Victory Baptist Church in Ruffin, NC - Kevin Scott Heffner - In 2018, Heffner, pastor, Victory Baptist Church and private school principal, Ruffin, NC, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison without the chance of parole after pleading guilty to performing inappropriate sex acts and sending a dozen nude picture to one of his minor female students who was also a member of his congregation.
The firm said callers will be provided with support options and connected with advocates.
It said the hotline was created as a "stopgap measure for survivors" until an SBC annual meeting in Anaheim, California, in June can "pass even more meaningful reforms."
"A time to lament"
As WCNC Charlotte awaited the release of the list, we started reaching out to Baptist churches in the Charlotte area affiliated with the SBC to see if they would respond to the release of the list. Scott Vail, executive pastor and acting lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte, provided this announcement, which will be read to the congregation on Sunday, May 27:
The findings of an investigation into sexual abuse allegations and the actions and responses of our SBC leadership that has been underway since last fall was issued this past week. This report states that survivors of abuse and advocates for change were met with “resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility” from some members of the Executive Committee of the SBC when they shared their stories of abuse or when they spoke out in favor of cultural and structural changes.
This is a time to lament as we are deeply saddened and grieved as the reports of sexual abuse, the cover-ups, the dishonesty, the lack of integrity were revealed in the findings of the report.
We are calling our church to pray, to seek God together, humbling ourselves before Him, asking that He heal and minister to those who are victims and survivors, and show us and our leaders the way to a better future.
We ask that you pick up a prayer guide that gives us specific ways to pray
As WCNC Charlotte reached out to listed churches, at least one church - Jonas Ridge Baptist Church - did not have an active phone number. WCNC Charlotte learned King James Baptist Church closed in 2013 shortly after former pastor Harley Michael Keough died, and the property lay abandoned for three years. Today, a different church is in that building, and church leaders told WCNC Charlotte there is no further connection to Keough.
Gastonia church responds
One of the churches in the list above was New Hope Baptist Church in Gastonia. In a phone conversation with WCNC Charlotte, pastor Brandon McKoy confirmed Paul Shives was a former member, and after Shives' conviction, many things at the church changed. McKoy, who joined the congregation in 2013, said the membership of the church has changed significantly since then, and New Hope has distanced itself in recent years from the SBC.
McKoy provided the following statement to WCNC Charlotte:
A member of New Hope Baptist Church, Paul Shives, was convicted of crimes of sexual abuse in 2008, and he is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence. He violated the trust and sanctity of a family that were not members of New Hope. The abuse did not occur at New Hope nor was New Hope aware of what was occurring in his private life until an arrest was made.
New Hope is committed to being a place of refuge and healing for victims of abuse, and we will not harbor nor attempt to cover up any abusive behavior. All employees and volunteers, who work with minors, are required to have background checks, and they are properly screened and trained.
We are committed to the safety and well-being of our children, and we do not tolerate abuse in any form.
Kannapolis church: "We have zero tolerance for child abuse"
On Wednesday, June 8, Piedmont Baptist Church replied to a request for comment from WCNC Charlotte. They provided a statement saying the church complies with all requests from law enforcement:
It is always heart-breaking when any former employee or church member is accused of misconduct. The church’s policy is to fully cooperate with law enforcement when they are involved, and this local church is completely committed to child safety and protection.
Piedmont Baptist Church does not cover up abuse, and we have zero tolerance for child abuse in our ministry. This church reports all reasonable suspicions of child abuse to the authorities. We carefully interview and screen our employees and volunteers, and our leadership team works to maintain child protection policies based on best practices nationally and according to North Carolina State laws. We believe that transparency, child safety, and accountability are essential for successful ministry, and we are fully committed to ministering in a safe and responsible manner.
WCNC Charlotte will continue adding church responses as congregation leaders respond to requests for comment.
NBC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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