**With this many Southern Baptist roadblocks, most clergy sex abusers will stay hidden. Roadblocks to making known a minister’s abuse of a kid are roadblocks to protecting other kids.
May 2004 First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch music minister James A. Moore is contacted to find out whether he will be helpful. Moore confirms to J.S. that, years ago, he knew about minister Tommy Gilmore’s sexual contact with Brown as a minor, but minister Moore asserts that the “relationship” was “consensual” and that there’s no reason to bring it up. For a minister to characterize the sexual abuse of a minor as “consensual” is ignorant and appalling, particularly since he was given a chance to think about it and contacted a second time. **This kind of ministerial harshness would deter some victims’ abuse reports at the very start.
July 2004 With the help of a woman who had previously addressed a Baptist committee on sex abuse, I submit a written report to leaders at First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch (FBCFB), the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), the Dallas Baptist Association, and First Baptist Church of Tyler. Following guidelines in the BGCT’s booklet, “Broken Trust,” I request an apology, counseling costs, the entry of Gilmore’s name in the BGCT’s list of clergy offenders, press statements in cities where Gilmore has worked, “crisis guidance” from the BGCT to educate the church on appropriate handling of an abuse report, and some sort of symbolic gesture of support for victims. I do not make any threat of a lawsuit; nor do I request any payment for damages. (The BGCT provides counseling for clergy perpetrators and their spouses...why not for the victims?) **Is the BGCT's booklet just a tool for deception to string victims along and make them think the BGCT will handle things, when in reality, the BGCT doesn't even attempt to properly assure the safety of others?
Through its attorney, the Southern Baptist Convention responds by letter stating that it has NO RECORD that Gilmore is in a ministerial position in any church. Even if the SBC had no record, couldn’t they have made the effort to find him? ** Was telling me there was no record an attempt to mislead me into thinking Gilmore wasn’t a minister anymore - when in reality he was?
Aug. 2004 First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch responds by letter from its attorney stating that they may seek “recourse” against me if I pursue the matter. I am shocked that the church I grew up in would threaten to sue me, particularly since the music minister has substantiated my story. Why does the church not want to warn others about a minister known to have sexually violated an underage girl? The church’s hostile response sends me into a bottomless black hole. Eventually, I begin to wonder how many other victims this attorney has intimidated back into silence. And how many child-molesting ministers have been allowed to continue because of this attorney’s threats against those who report them? This attorney, Stephen Wakefield of Burford & Ryburn, is the same attorney who, for many years, has represented the largest state-wide Baptist organization in the country, the BGCT. So it’s reasonable to assume that denominational leaders approve of such bullying tactics against clergy abuse victims. In fact, when the BGCT says it provides "crisis guidance" to churches, it appears to mean nothing more than that the BGCT provides a referral to Wakefield, who will then work to make the problem go away for the church by threatening suit against the victim. This makes the BGCT's notion of "crisis guidance" at best a pathetic joke and alternatively another tool for deception. I decide to enlist the assistance of an attorney-friend. **The church's threat seems a transparent attempt to silence me through intimidation. If those who report the predators are silenced, the predators stay hidden and other kids remain at risk.
Oct. 2004 FBCFB deletes from its website its long-standing motto, “Growing Together in Christ for Over 130 Years.” It appears the church is positioning itself for a judgment-proofing tactic of contending that the current church is not the same as the church in which the abuse occurred. (I wish they would focus as much on protecting kids as they do on protecting themselves.)
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