Top Southern Baptist leaders have released a once-secret list of hundreds of pastors and church workers who have been accused of sexual abuse.
The list contains hundreds of entries from alleged cases spanning from 2000 to 2019 on the list.
The decision to release the 205-page list on Thursday came after independent firm Guidepost Solutions unveiled an explosive report on its findings into a probe into past abuses within the church.
The probe found that the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee had mishandled abuse claims and stonewalled survivors. The investigation was requested by the executive committee after it faced growing pressure for an external investigation into abuse allegations.
According to a statement released by the Southern Baptist Church's website, officials said the list was being released for the first time as an important step towards addressing the scourge of sexual abuse. The statement said that each entry reminds us of the devastation and destruction caused by sexual abuse.
Our prayer is for the survivors of these heinous acts to find hope and healing, and that churches will use this list proactively to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us, it added.
The Guidepost report claimed that D. August Boto, the former vice president and general counsel of the committee, and former SBC spokesman Roger Oldham, both retired in 2019, had kept a private list of allegations. The investigation found that the list was not believed to be widely known within the committee and church staff.
Guidepost said that for years survivors had been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff. They made phone calls, mailed letters, emailed emails, appeared at SBC and EC meetings, held rallies and contacted the press only to be met again with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the EC, it said.
Despite keeping a list of allegations, Guidepost said there was no indication that Dr. Oldham, Mr. Boto, or anyone else, took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches. Oldham and Boto could not be reached for comment early Friday.
A hotline maintained by Guidepost has been opened for survivors or their loved ones to report abuse allegations at 202 -- 864 -- 5578 or SBChotline guidepostsolutions.com.
The firm said that callers will be provided with support options and connected with advocates.
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, it said.