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40 Years in the Making: A Timeline of the Southern Baptists’ Sexual Abuse Crisis


In January, the same EC staffer provides Boto with information based on internet searches of 66 accused individuals thought to be Southern Baptists. Boto appeared to take no action.

In the spring, survivor Debbie Vasquez emails SBC President Frank Page and Boto alleging sexual abuse and rape by her pastor when she was a minor that led to her becoming pregnant with the abuser’s child. Brown, now a SNAP coordinator for Baptist churches, criticizes Southern Baptists’ failure to keep records about sex abusers. Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page says: “We’re looking at all options” as leaders mull a decision about an offenders list.

At the June annual meeting, Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson seeks a feasibility study for a proposed database of sex offenders. Messengers pass a nonbinding resolution expressing “moral outrage and concern at any instance of child victimization.”


At the June annual meeting, the Executive Committee rejects a proposed abuser database, instead suggesting churches rely on national registries of sex offenders and report allegations to police immediately. The committee says it would be “impossible” to ensure that all convicted sexual predators could be discovered, and a “Baptist only” list might leave out predators who had identified previously with other faith groups.

In September, identifying himself as general trial counsel for the Executive Committee, Boto testified on behalf of a Tennessee gymnastics coach who had been convicted of abuse during the coach’s appeal of his conviction.


Boto tells the Executive Committee staffer who had assembled lists of ministers accused of sexual abuse to send the lists to Guenther “as they may need to be produced in litigation,” the report states.


Former SBC Vice President Paul Pressler is sued by a former assistant who alleges the onetime Texas appeals court judge sexually abused him over the course of several decades, starting when the plaintiff was in his mid-teens.


In March, Frank Page, now president and CEO of the Executive Committee, announces his retirement. Later the same day, the committee chairman says he learned from Page that the retirement “was precipitated by a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.”

In May, former SBC President Paige Patterson is fired from his leadership role at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary after new evidence surfaces of an alleged rape cover-up.

In June, messengers adopt resolutions showing compassion for the abused and expecting “moral and sexual purity” of their leaders.

Paige Patterson closes his eyes during a special meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees on May 22, 2018. Photo by Adam Covington/SWBTS via Baptist Press