“The report from Guidepost Solutions is heartbreaking, and parts are horrifying,” Greear said. “It should not have been this way. Southern Baptists rightfully expected more, and deserved more, from their leaders.
“Our failures put survivors in a position where they were forced to fight for themselves when we should have been fighting for them. The church should be a place where people know they are safe and where leaders are who they say they are. Jesus’ Gospel declares that God is a refuge for all who run to Him, and the posture of our leaders toward abuse victims should reflect that.
“Protecting the vulnerable is not a distraction from the mission, it is our mission. We have no choice but to learn from our past and change the future.”
Full statements below:
Roger ‘Sing’ Oldham
“From time to time we considered whether hosting a web page with published news stories about ministers or church volunteers arrested for a variety of matters, including sexual misconduct, would be a helpful resource to assist churches in their hiring processes.
The determination was made that the Department of Justice Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Registry continues to be the most comprehensive list of sexual abusers, much more extensive than anything we could create, and was already posted on our website. Aggregating news stories we became aware of through a Google search would be incomplete and therefore undependable for the very churches we were trying to serve. So, it would be better to point them to the Dru Sjodin national registry.
At some point, I set up a Google search using the terms “Baptist” and “arrested” to see if there were any responses. As they appeared in my email inbox, I forwarded them to Mr. Boto in Convention policy for his awareness and continued conversation about if and how these published news reports, already in the public domain, could be used to assist churches.
Over time, I continued to forward each alert to Mr. Boto. At some point, I became aware that a staff member was maintaining a collection of my forwards. My understanding was that they were being held for possible future use should the EC decide it would be helpful to churches to host a webpage with such news reports. These Google Alerts would provide EC staff a base of news reports to begin with if that determination was made.
Many of the Google Alerts contained names of individuals who had been arrested or indicted for criminal sexual assault, so their names had already been given to law enforcement. In many instances, the individual was arrested in a setting unrelated to church work, but had served as a volunteer at a church or was a previous staff member. In many others, the news report indicated that the individual had been fired or had resigned from the church. The one point in common is that these had all been reported to law enforcement and had resulted in an arrest.
As to your other questions:
- Beyond the Google Alert reports I forwarded, I have no knowledge of whether or how names would have been added to a list.
- I did not have access to this collected list and am not aware such a list would be considered a database.
- I am not aware of any discussions to share what you call “the list” with others. If any such discussions were held, I was not part of them.
- I did not have any conversations with anyone at BGCT regarding the list they kept, so had no conversations about best practices in maintaining such a list.”
Jim Guenther and Jaime Jordan
“We appreciate the monumental task faced by Guidepost Solutions and its effort in a very short time to distill over 20 years of events into a single report. However, we believe the report contains misstatements of fact and quotations from us which are misleading because they are reported out of context.
We disagree sharply with many of the characterizations in the report and its assignment of ill will and bad motives to men and women of the Executive Committee who struggled year after year with complex issues. In our experience, nearly all of these individuals were motivated by a deep desire to give their best service to the Southern Baptist Convention and to be good stewards of the trust placed in them.
We are greatly disappointed in the lack of understanding the report shows for the role and responsibility of legal counsel. The report repeatedly attacks our firm for advising the Executive Committee and the Southern Baptist Convention regarding the risks which could arise from various courses of action.
Understanding legal risks and how to mitigate those risks are primary reasons individuals and organizations hire legal counsel. As lawyers we are bound by professional rules of conduct to zealously protect our clients’ legitimate interests and to discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct. Our clients weigh that advice and choose their ultimate course of action.
Our goal is always to represent our clients with the highest degree of legal competence and integrity. That was certainly our attitude during the time we were privileged to advise the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.”