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Ex pastor juvenil bautista del sur abusó sexualmente de niños de 'manera violenta', afirma el fiscal

By Sheila Stogsdill
luke cunningham texas young pastor
Luke Cunningham, 41, former student minister at Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury, was arrested on charges related to inappropriate conduct with a minor. (Photo: Lubbock County Jail)

A Texas prosecutor says a former Southern Baptist youth pastor sexually abused children in a “violent way” and is a “danger to society.”

Luke Cunningham, 41, remains in the Lubbock County jail held on $500,000 bail on a complaint of sexually aggravated sexual assault and two counts of child sexual assault.

Como reported earlier by El Informe Roys (TRR) these accusations coincide with when Cunningham served as the student pastor at Turning Point Community Church in Lubbock from 2016 to 2020.

Cunningham has been at the center of a Lubbock Police Department investigation for sexual misconduct since 2021.

As first reported in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal an investigation indicates Cunningham’s destructive behavior goes back to at least 2013.

Su donación deducible de impuestos ayuda a nuestros periodistas a informar la verdad y responsabilizar a los líderes y organizaciones cristianos. Haga una donación de $30 o más a The Roys Report este mes y recibirá una copia de “¿Y si Jesús hablara en serio acerca de la Iglesia?” por Skye Jethani. Para donar, haga clic aquí.

Prosecutor Cassie Graham told the court during a hearing on Monday, “He is clearly a danger to society.” 

Police reports and statements from the teens detailing a pattern of violent sexual abuse were produced during the hearing, the paper reported.

Graham told the court that one girl accused Cunningham of slapping and choking her to unconsciousness while he raped her, the Avalanche-Journal reported.

cassie graham
Cassie Graham (Photo via social media)

Cunningham would allegedly “threaten any young man in the youth group” with romantic inclinations to the girls, the newspaper reported.

There were allegations of abuse from a potential third victim accusing Cunningham of throwing her against a vending machine and holding her down on the floor when she didn’t “give him the attention he wanted,” the paper reported.

A telephone message left for Graham was not returned.

Cunningham is accused of manipulating the girls saying he planned to leave his wife and be with them when they turned 18, according to testimony during Monday’s hearing.

One church worker submitted a statement saying Cunningham was told during a trip in New Mexico that it was inappropriate “to have 16-year-old girls sleeping in his lap.” 

Photographs from mission trips showed Cunningham posing with the girls like he is in a romantic relationship, according to the Avalanche-Journal.

Other evidence included screenshots of messages Cunningham sent the girls asking them to minimize the inappropriate conduct with Cunningham instructing the girls they “made out a couple of times,” and that he touched their breasts once.

Cunningham’s past began to unravel in court after Det. Justin Ryan Wood with the Lubbock Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Unit told the court that during his investigation Cunningham left Fort Worth church in 2015 after refusing to abide by a church policy prohibiting unsupervised contact with youth.

After leaving the church Cunningham moved to Lubbock where he worked at Turning Point Community Church and Church on the Rock, according to the newspaper.

Cunningham was confronted by one girls’ parents in 2019 and told him if he left the ministry they would not report him.

That agreement was short lived. Cunningham and his family moved to Granbury where he worked as a youth pastor at Lakeside Baptist Church.

luke cunningham youth pastor
Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury, Texas. (Photo via social media)

At the time of his arrest, Cunningham served as student minister at Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury.

A sexual abuse prevention training course at the Granbury church exposed Cunningham’s history of sexual misconduct. Church officials further investigated Cunningham and reached out to another teenager from Turning Point who also made an outcry that Cunningham sexually abused her in Lubbock.

He has since been fired from the church.

Cunningham’s attorney Michael King asked the court to reduce his bail to $100,000. Cunningham has been in police custody since his June 20 arrest.

A signed affidavit by Cunningham’s wife was submitted to the court stating they could only afford a $100,000 bail.

King also asked the court to allow Cunningham to have unsupervised contact with his own children and a Hood County CPS investigation found no evidence Cunningham abused his own children.

District Judge Douglas Freitag did not rule on Cunningham’s bond reduction request.

This article has been corrected.

Sheila Stogsdill is a freelance print journalist and digital reporter, primarily covering crime issues for KSN/KODE.

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5 Respuestas

  1. I cannot get over the sick, twisted, unbelievably gross sexual predators in churches who repeatedly get away with doing anything they want. When, when, when will people call the police on these out of control males? The continual pass they demand – and get – from overly trusting and gaslighted people comes from a place of ignorance. No person is above the law. (“You can do anything, grab ’em . . . “)
    Call the authorities on these people to truly save young people from decades of counseling, difficult healing and betrayal by people they once trusted. There is no excuse for the behavior of these churches. And, while you’re at it, find better things to do on Sunday. After being home for a few months that artificial guilt we were imprinted to will pass and you’ll realize what serenity and joy in life really is.

  2. And yet, the SBC drags its toes on a database that would expose these predators before they can change churches and start the pattern of abuse all over again. They’re far more concerned with women preaching than with women and children being abused by their leaders! Of course, I’m not surprised given that this denomination was born to protect slavery in the American South.

  3. Regarding that sexual abuse training, it’s common for people to realize they’ve been abused after learning about the behaviors of predators. It happened to me the first time I was trained, actually. Thankfully, I didn’t suffer anything nearly as bad as what Cunningham is accused of doing, and even more thankfully, my parents took me seriously, and things were quickly handled about as well as people did back then.

    Lots of things to note here. First, if churches were more open to speaking candidly about pastors and volunteers who won’t follow child safety guidance, this guy might have been out of the ministry nearly ten years ago. Second, the volume of evidence against him tells us how hard it is to prosecute this kind of case. It was a number of accusers who were required before it proceeded to an indictment, just like in a lot of other cases.

  4. I can’t understand the 2019 incident with the girl’s parent who offered not to report him! What kind of parent allows this monster to move along to abuse other children? What kind of parent does not take this person to the authorities over his/her own child?

    1. I’m with you on that Debbie! I cannot fathom the thinking of a parent letting someone like that off the hook to go on and abuse someone else’s child down the road. Heartbreaking!

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Hola. Vemos que este es el tercer artículo de este mes que ha encontrado que vale la pena leer. ¡Estupendo! ¿Consideraría hacer una donación deducible de impuestos para ayudar a nuestros periodistas a continuar informando la verdad y restaurar la iglesia?

Su donación deducible de impuestos ayuda a nuestros periodistas a informar la verdad y responsabilizar a los líderes y organizaciones cristianos. Haga una donación de $30 o más a The Roys Report este mes y recibirá una copia de “¿Y si Jesús hablara en serio acerca de la Iglesia?” por Skye Jethani.