May 19, 2012

Florida Baptist Convention Liable for Pastor Abuse

Florida Baptist ConventionBig news out of Florida this week. According to the Orlando Sentinel, a jury in Lake County ruled yesterday that the Florida Baptist Convention was liable for a former pastor who sexually abused a 13 year-old boy. This is big news for those of us opposed to child rape.

In this case, the jury determined that the Baptist leadership failed in their duty to adequately investigate the background of the perpetrator, 63 year-old Douglas W. Myers.

Myers, already in prison after pleading guilty to molesting the boy, had received funds and training from the convention before starting two churches. The jury rejected the convention's argument that it is merely a support organization and has no real authority over its pastors.
During the trial, the victim testified the abuse occurred while he was in eighth grade after Myers earned the trust of his grandmother, a devout Baptist.

"He told me it was a normal part of growing up," the young man testified. "He told me he had done it with plenty of other kids at other churches."
Prior to supporting Myers, the convention did run a background check but did not bother to check references or contact the prior churches with which he had been affiliated. Had the done so, they may have learned of his propensities before he had the opportunity to prey on yet another victim.

Hopefully, cases like this will receive the publicity they deserve and lead religious organizations to review their practices.

H/T to Stop Baptist Predators

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