J.D. Greear Bryan Loritts

J.D. Greear’s Church Announces Investigation Into Allegations Bryan Loritts Covered Up Sex Crimes

By Julie Roys

The church of Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear today announced it is hiring a third party to investigate Executive Pastor Bryan Loritts’ handling of sex abuse at a previous church.

As The Roys Report first reported in June, eyewitnesses at Fellowship Memphis, where Loritts served as a senior pastor, alleged that Loritts covered up sex crimes at the church 10 years ago.

Aware of these allegations, Greear’s Summit Church hired Loritts as an executive pastor on June 1.

At the time, Summit claimed that it had conducted its own investigation into the allegations and concluded that though Loritts had made mistakes, he had not participated in a cover-up.

The eyewitnesses, however, told The Roys Report that Summit had conducted a sham investigation and had failed to take their allegations seriously.

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Today, the elders at Summit acknowledged in a public statement that their investigation was flawed.

“(W)e realized that without an open and confidential channel for victims to report and an independent investigative firm to evaluate that evidence, an important part of our process was incomplete,” the elders said.

As a result, the church said it has hired a firm called Guidepost Solutions to conduct a new investigation. Summit also published its contract with Guidepost Solutions.

The church said the new investigation will allow potential victims to report confidentially. It also will be conducted “independent of any input or control of Summit or anyone affiliated with the Summit.”

The allegations against Loritts stem from 2010 when an employee at Loritts’ church, Fellowship Memphis, found a hidden cell phone recording her in a church bathroom. The phone belonged to Loritts’ brother-in-law, Rick Trotter, who was a worship pastor at the church.

By Loritts’ own account, the employee gave the phone, which had dozens of other secret recordings on it, to Loritts. Loritts admits he did not report the crime to police, but instead took the phone home with him.

Loritts says that the next day, he gave Trotter’s phone to a pastor at the church and instructed staff to report the crime to police.

According to Memphis Police, no one from the church ever reported the crime and the phone somehow disappeared.

A former leader at Fellowship Memphis and one of Trotter’s victims say Loritts and other church leaders pressured them not to report Trotter’s crime to police.

Trotter was fired by Fellowship Memphis in 2010. He then went to another Memphis Church where he repeated his crimes. In 2016, Trotter was convicted of multiple counts of voyeurism.

Following news about Loritts published by The Roys Report, a member of the SBC Executive Committee urged committee members to investigate the allegations concerning Loritts. The matter was forwarded to the SBC Credentials Committee where it appears to have died.

However, in late October and November, some concerned members of The Summit Church contacted The Roys Report, requesting information about our investigation into Loritts, which we supplied.

In their statement today, the elders at Summit said they “regret” where they “fell short of the mark and for any confusion and hurt caused” by their process of hiring Loritts.

The elders added that they hope to “continue to learn” and to “implement best practices for responding to abuse allegations” that other churches can emulate.

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35 thoughts on “J.D. Greear’s Church Announces Investigation Into Allegations Bryan Loritts Covered Up Sex Crimes”

  1. That statement by the elders….are you kidding me? Does not sound like a Biblical apology or statement of wrongdoing to me. It is all so “managed.”

    1. James Lutzweiler

      My experience with JD is that he is simply not intellectually equipped to do spiritual battle. In my book he got where he is because he is a likable stand-up comic but a lightweight shadow boxer, when it comes to wrestling with principalities and powers. Sadly he has trained a congregation to be just as intellectually unqualified as he he.

      Sincerely and not the least bit maliciously but only descriptively,

      James Lutzweiler
      Archivist (1999-2013)
      Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

      1. I agree, I have seen this multiple times. People love a good speaker that is entertaining, but a pastor that properly teaches scripture, not so much.

      2. James,
        I always appreciate your comments. Well said. Most congregations love comedic pastors. They will comment on how funny they are. Maybe it is a ruse to cover-up for their lack of intellectual engagement with the Scriptures. After all, what is better than a funny story. An observation, I do not know JD and am not picking on him. Obviously, pressure was put on the Board as they did not engage with Julie’s reporting. The Independent 3rd party could start with her investigative reporting first.

        I wonder what the catalyst that changed his mind?

    2. Meg, it would be interesting to apply Wade Mullens’ list of tactics used to manage messages to all the communication associated with this situation to date and then to future communication after the investigation is reported. Most churches in such crisis situations fall right into the pitfalls Mullens lays out.

  2. I would imagine that Bryan is probably losing his mind over this new investigation, especially after ten years. Our Sins really do have a way of coming back to hold us accountable. Moses was correct when he said: “Be sure your Sins will find you out!”

      1. Sammy as a black person who attends the Summit you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about or where JD stands on CRT. He most definitely did not bring Loritts in for that.

  3. I expect the elders are surprised that the congregation didn’t accept the leadership’s original, “Nothing to see here; everyone just move along,” decision.

  4. Another aspect of all this that sickens me is how JD was a keynote speaker in the 2019 ERLC Conference on Sex Abuse in the Church. He told all SBC CHURCHES that we all need to do the “Caring Well” curriculum.

  5. Sorry for the cynicism, but I fear that for “social justice” reasons not much may happen. No one wants to be called a racist if you catch my meaning.

    1. James Lutzweiler

      Yes, Paul, the phony doctorate tells us all we’ll ever need to know about this Bryan fellow. Shades of Ravi Zacharias but who at least to his growing discredit got nice bouquets from schools that were half way well known. If Summit has any collective brains, Bryan will be toast. His credentials are the most hilarious I have ever seen to say nothing of his pose in doctoral robes. A side splitter. Thank God the strong shoulders of Jesus can carry this kind of idiocy without him collapsing. “Dr.” Bryan?!!! Ha! To the fiftieth power.

      James Lutzweiler

  6. And the white[washed septic tanks who run a corporation calling itself Jesus Church have been pushed to the wall through embarrassment. This head snake and his brood of vipers could care less about any victims. They just want to do the min. required to make the bad press go away. Wise up Christians, for your celebrities and their henchmen are not for you or Jesus. They are just for themselves. This is why Jesus is bringing pressure against what calls itself His Church in order to make a good chunk of it go bankrupt. Their is no Jesus in Celebrity Christianity for He has been shown the door right along with the Holy Spirit! The egos are too big and something has to go and it is obviously not selfishness that is getting ejected.

    1. Another wolf who felt free to loose a fellow wolf on the sheep in his congregation and then on some sheep elsewhere. What would predators in the church so without their Little Helpers?

      It occurs to me: if a sheepdog did something like this, the dog would lose its job…

  7. At least Summit did not refer to Loritts as “Dr.” in their communication. And the church website doesn’t list him with the phony doctorate. Maybe they finally realized the phony doctorate is unethical. Loritts still uses the title on his twitter and personal websites for self promotion. This remains a huge red flag and one that haunted Ravi to the very end of his life. Summit should press this issue with him.

    In terms of this announcement and new investigation, it took a long time to come to this point. One can only wonder what they’ve been doing over the last 7-8 months since Julie’s earlier reporting. At least they hired an outside group and it appears they are attempting to keep it independent. Let’s hope this is really the case.

    This is such an important issue because leaders who coverup abuse are culpable and complicit for the damage done to victims. If Loritts indeed engaged in a coverup, he should be terminated from Summit, disqualified from ministry, and never be allowed on a church staff again. There were future victims after the initial cases and Loritts could’ve stopped that by taking appropriate steps. Were there mandatory reporting laws for church leaders in Tennessee at the time? If so, he may have broken these laws. This situation also points to a lack of true accountability when family members and friends serve together on church staff or in leadership systems. He likely covered for his brother in law out of family loyalty. It’s why nepotism rules apply in most organizations. Churches should follow suit.

    Finally, this is a critical situation for the SBC since JD Grear is the current convention President and they have been embroiled in sex abuse issues for some time now without much movement for making changes. They need to avoid following the slow and meager response of the Catholic church and make swift and meaningful changes. That, added to ongoing race issues, stands to cause major damage to the SBC.

    1. As comi-tragic as “DR.” Bryan Loritts in his ridiculous fake-doctorate robe most certainly is, his quasi-famous preacher father, Pastor Crawford Loritts, posting picture of himself and his wife at Bryan’s “graduation” (posted on Crawford’s social on 1/18/2020) is perhaps even more pathetic and loathesome–the caption with his parents beaming smiles at the fraud? “What a joy it is to celebrate with our oldest son, Bryan…He was given the honor of a Doctor of Divinity today…So proud of him…” Gotta promote the family business on social media, I guess.

      For the price of the fake diploma, one hopes that they all got free breakfast at the local La Quinta lobby where one presumes such ceremonies are held? I wonder if they flew down for the raucous celebration when Bryan was also once accepted into the similarly-prestigious Columbia Record Club?

      The Loritts family “Christian” occupational scam should be exposed and run out of business! smh The cover-ups, pervert-family-member protection racket, and knowing phony diploma celebrations might indicate these family miscreants are no more “Christian” than chalk is cheese!

      Shame on these people for having no shame, and shame on J.D. Greear, the Summit leadership, and the SBC for willfully encouraging this immoral nonsense!

  8. The statement from Summit Church states that its investigation was “incomplete”. Truth is the investigation was WRONG. As someone familiar with SC I can tell you that they spent more time vetting a land deal than they did vetting Mr. Loritts. It’s shocking to me that the congregation had ZERO involvement in Loritts’s hiring. There was no vote, no discussion, no meet and greet. The next thing you know an announcement is made that he is a new hire (surprise). It’s clear to me that Loritts was a diversity hire gone bad. The congregation has gotten wind of the mess and SC is doing it’s best clean it up. Pastor J.D had little to say about George Floyd and I suspect we won’t hear much from him about this. Keep watching the SC website, the Loritts name which is here today, will be gone tomorrow.

    1. It’s oddly coincidental that Cedarville University’s “diversity hire gone bad” also involved a voyeurism scandal which the new employer considered irrelevant. Cedarville’s leadership came out of it intact; maybe Greear and his team will, as well.

  9. The Summit Church Elders stated that their former investigation of Bryon Lorritts was “incomplete”. The truth is the investigation was WRONG. I am familiar with Summit Church due to the fact that I am a current voting member. We recently Spent more time vetting a Land deal and a new directional Elder than we did hiring Mr Lorritts as a full time executive pastor. I’m not saying the church violated hiring protocols but in hindsight there was absolutely no congregational involvement, no 30 day waiting period, no question and answer, No meet and greet. One day you look up and there’s Mr. Lorrits new executive pastor(surprise). This situation might not exist had the Body been involved in the process. That is probably my biggest beef.

    Here’s my prediction, keep your eyes on the Summit Church website because today you may see Bryon Lorrits listed, tomorrow you won’t.

    P.S. I feel bad for the Lorrits family, because this embarrassing mess could have been avoided had the church been upfront with all parties involved.

      1. “Yeah, but we all know why he was hired: because it was important that JD be seen hiring a black man.” Bravo to you sister Megan for calling this obvious but not-PC fact out. Character be damned–woke “Christians” on the right side of history have to fulfill the color quota, right?

    1. RE: Feeling bad for the Loritts family…It would be easier to feel bad for them if they weren’t all in on it! The only ones I feel bad for are Bryan’s kids. They have to see that their dad covered for a sexual predator and sent him to another church to prey without warning to the congregation and then hired him again for Bryan’s own conference. He lied and tried to bully people on the matter and has left more than one church under very suspicious circumstances. Oh yeah…he also hired The Most Prolific Child Molester in Missouri History (according to the prosecutors)–Pete Newman–to work for his church organizations in Memphis, while Newman was out on bail awaiting trial (the congregants at Fellowship were not warned, nor protected–Newman left after being re-arrested for even more pedophile crimes in various states, which netted him 2 life sentences).

      The kids’ mom knew this was going on and still sat silently while pervert Uncle Rick went to take his perverted videos at another church in their town. Plus, she is pictured dressed-up and smiling with pride at Dad’s (Bryan’s) fake diploma ceremony.

      Grandpa Crawford was pictured (and posted on social media) himself and Grandma smiling at what they knew was a fake diploma “graduation” photo op…so they were in on it. Plus, Grandpa turned a blind eye as predator son-in-law, Rick, took another ministry job without warning to the congregants. Not coincidentally, the church plant that employed Rick was overseen by Sandy Willson, who sat on The Gospel Coalition council with Crawford. Of course, predator Uncle Rick also got work at Chick-fil-a (where he video-violated customers again), a company with whom Grandpa Crawford is serving on the national Board of Directors.

      Aunt Heather had no problem with her known predator husband going to another church to wickedly take advantage of the congregation. She finally left Rick when it hit the Memphis newspapers and TV stations. She could tolerate a voyeur predator husband in the ministry, but bad press? That’s just too much to bear!

      The kids have to wonder if they were unknowing victims of Uncle Rick and why their other aunts and uncles in the ministry did not put a stop to this.

      It is easy at first glance to think how difficult and confusing this must have been for Bryan (and in his video, he makes clear that it was far more difficult for him than the victims), unless one considers that his father and brother are pastors leading churches, and they know darn well the legal requirements to report the crime to authorities; it is not like he was making these decisions in isolation. Plus, do you really think that Bryan and Crawford have no idea at all what happened to the compromising voyeuristic and predatory videos that included members of their family?!? C’mon man!

      While the whole situation is tragic, the Loritts family (sans Bryan’s kids) is wholly culpable and are wholly disqualified from ministry by any biblical or ethical standard.

      The leadership at Summit was explicitly made aware of Bryan’s lack of ministry fitness, and very intentionally and wickedly chose to ignore facts that were presented to them. All should be removed. The Summit Church body deserves better.

  10. I don’t know how it could be proven that Loritts took the phone home with him (unless he admitted to it), but if there were videos of women in the bathroom, where is the phone now? How do we know Loritts didn’t keep it for some strange self-gratification? Of course this is speculation but how can we trust Loritts got rid of the phone and the videos on it?

  11. Several issues need pointed out here:

    1. Our own complicity in constantly feeding the Evangelical Celebrity Machine by buying books and recordings, attending seminars, buying lesson series in our churches, etc. If we want the ECM to diminish, we must stop supporting it.

    2. The problems reported here follow the familiar and typical pattern:
    a. Celebrity leader
    b. Megachurch/mega ministry
    c. Ministry run as a “family business” with family in leadership roles and often also on the governing board
    d. Inadequate oversight of the organization and its management practices
    e. Spin doctoring and damage control when anything goes wrong, so flow of money does not stop
    f. The above creates the perfect storm for disaster, as we have often seen on this blog

    Honestly, we are better off supporting strong local churches and ministries, and only support larger, national organizations that we either have direct experience with, or know enough about the work to trust the organization.

  12. “By Loritts’ own account, the employee gave the phone, which had dozens of other secret recordings on it, to Loritts. Loritts admits he did not report the crime to police, but instead took the phone home with him.” Yeah I think we all know what happened… Loritts downloaded the voyeuristic spy videos onto his computer! Slime like Loritts have careers because this world is full of weak, pathetic sheep who don’t have enough faith to worship the true God so they worship extremely fallen men instead. Thank you Julie.

  13. Just as Washington D.C. has its swamp which protects its own so the world of Christian ministers seems to have its own version of the swamp. I have your back and you need to have mine. The correct answer to this issue is that Trotter and Greear need to find jobs in a field other than the ministry. Anyone who who continues to support a church that associates with either man is getting what they deserve.

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