Are J.D. Greear and The Summit Church protecting someone who participated in a cover-up of sex crimes? And is their investigation of Bryan Loritts legitimate? Or, is it a sham investigation intended to obscure the facts?
In this episode of The Roys Report, Julie continues her interview with two eyewitnesses who say they observed Bryan Loritts cover up the sex crimes of his brother-in-law, Rick Trotter. These same eyewitnesses say they tried to tell Greear and The Summit Church about what Loritts had done, but the church would not listen to them. They add that even after their conversation with Summit leaders, the church continued to communicate to others that everyone at Loritts’ former church absolved him of responsibility for the church’s mishandling of the case.
We pick up our interview where Trotter is fired from Loritts’ former church, Fellowship Memphis, but then is passed on to another church where he preys on more women, and potentially children.
“There’s a dark evil presence to be able to blind you to that, ” Greg Selby, one of the eyewitnesses says. “If it was just Bryan and he said, ‘Well it’s my family,’ and he never passed (Trotter) on, I would get it. But that you had an entire group of people, and now, the Southern Baptist Convention covering up this stuff, when they know they’ve got a guy who . . . covered up his brother-in-law, passed him on to another church, has clearly lied about it . . . I couldn’t hire that guy to work in a secular business, much less would I put him on the pulpit.”
Note: This transcript has been edited slightly for continuity.
JULIE ROYS: Are J.D. Greear and The Summit church protecting someone who participated in a massive cover up of sex crimes? And is their investigation of Bryan Loritts legitimate? Or is it a sham investigation intended to obscure the facts? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And today’s podcast is a follow up to a podcast I released last Thursday. That podcast featured two eyewitnesses who had a front row seat to an alleged cover up of sex crimes involving Bryan Loritts. Loritts is an author and speaker and a new executive pastor at J.D. Greear’s Summit church. And according to my guests, Loritts in 2010 covered up sex crimes by his brother in law, Rick Trotter. Those crimes involve secretly recording multiple women and likely children in a bathroom at Fellowship Memphis. Fellowship Memphis is the church where Loritts was lead pastor and Trotter was the worship pastor. My guests today say Loritts helped to destroy evidence, silence victims and whistleblowers, and even tried to secretly funnel money to Trotter and his wife, Heather Loritts. If you missed that first podcast, I urge you to go back and listen to it. You can find it at JulieRoys.com It is truly stunning what happened at Bryan Loritts’ former church, and it is stunning that despite having Trotter’s camera, with numerous secretly recorded videos on it, Trotter’s crimes were never reported by anyone at Fellowship Memphis in 2010. And today, we’ll pick up the story there. And you’ll hear how Loritts and Fellowship Memphis allowed Trotter, an admitted sexual predator, to get hired by another church in Memphis. In fact, Loritts himself hired Trotter to lead worship at a conference Loritts organized in 2015. It’s absolutely mind-numbing. But perhaps the most surprising thing is that despite everything Loritts has done Summit Church, the church pastored by J.D. Greear, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., has just hired Bryan Loritts as an executive pastor. And according to my guest today, they met with leaders at Greear’s church on a conference call about two weeks ago. They tried to warn them about what Loritts had done, but Summit reportedly was not receptive to what my guests had to say. So, are Greear and The Summit Church covering up the cover up? I’ll explore that today with Jennifer and Greg and you’ll hear all about that conference call with Summit’s leaders. But first let me thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington. If you’re looking for a car, you can’t find a more honest dealership than my friends at Marquardt of Barrington and you can shop their entire selection of cars by going to BuyACar123.com. Also, I want to remind you that Judson’s next World Leaders Forum is October 20 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. The speaker for that event will be General David Petraeus, a four-star general and former director of the C.I.A. I know that’s a few months away, but I want to encourage you to mark your calendars now. For more information, just go to JudsonU.edu. Well returning to our topic today, again, joining me is Greg Selby and Jennifer Baker, and we pick up our discussion where I note that Trotter, after being fired from Fellowship Memphis for sex crimes, then goes to Downtown Church where he again repeats those same crimes.
JULIE ROYS: One of the most mind-numbing parts of this whole horrible situation with Greg Trotter is that he leaves Fellowship Memphis in 2010. He gets hired at a new church plant in 2011. And then we know it came out in 2016, so five years later, that he did the same thing at this new church, that he had done at Fellowship Memphis and victimized more women. The mother church that was planting the new church is Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis that is pastored by Sandy Willson.
GREG SELBY: It was at the time. Sandy has since retired.
JULIE ROYS: Okay. The new church was called Downtown Presbyterian, later changed to Downtown Church, Greg, you’re watching this happen. So, you saw Rick Trotter leave Fellowship Memphis and now go to this church plant and begin leading worship there. You did something about it. You called Sandy Willson. What happened when you called?
GREG SELBY: He deferred. And said that was not his department, to go ahead and talk to Richard Reeves who was at Downtown Pres., later Downtown Church.
JULIE ROYS: Richard Reeves is the pastor of the church plant, which was Downtown Pres., which then became Downtown Church. So yeah, go ahead. You talked to Richard Reeves.
GREG SELBY: It was such a casual dismissal. It was astonishing to me because, again, it was one thing that I’d seen this happen at Fellowship and I believed, “Well, maybe it’s because everybody was literally familiarly related.” Maybe that’s why a lot of the cover up had happened and that complicated issues. But to see somebody outside the church be a part of it. I mean, I can’t imagine leading a church if I had a church plant, somebody said, “Hey, by the way, you have a sexual predator leading worship at your church plant.” Then I wouldn’t say, “I’m gonna get right on this. We’re gonna get to the bottom of it.”
JULIE ROYS: And when you say there’s a familial connection, you’re speaking of Rick Trotter who’s a brother in-law of Bryan Loritts. But there are some other pretty tight connections between some of the players inside and outside of Fellowship Memphis. And those include Crawford Loritts, who’s the father of Bryan Loritts . But there’s others too. So let me point some of those out. Fellowship Memphis is an Acts 29 Church. John Bryson was on Acts 29 board. Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition are two organizations that are part of the reformed movement. They partnered to provide resources for churches. Many of the same leaders are on Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition. Well, The Gospel Coalition, a board member is Crawford Loritts. He’s a council member. Sandy Willson, who you just talked about, is actually on the council emeritus of The Gospel Coalition. Crawford Loritts’ connection, not only is in the board of The Gospel Coalition, which has a connection to this church that Rick Trotter ends up at, but also another place that Trotter has worked and my understanding—you can fill me in more on this, Greg—where he had actually recorded women as well, is Chick-fil-A. Well, who’s on the board of Chick-fil-A? Crawford Loritts.
GREG SELBY: Right.
JULIE ROYS: So, do you see this as just, I mean, is it possible that Bryan is unaware of what’s going on and now Rick is going from church to church to church?
GREG SELBY: Not at all. And if you look, Sandy Willson’s also listed as being part of the staff of Downline Ministries.
JULIE ROYS: So, it’s all part of the same thing.
GREG SELBY: It’s all part of the same thing. He’s at various points tried to deny he ever knew that . . .
JULIE ROYS: When you say, “he,” you mean Bryan?
GREG SELBY: Bryan, that Bryan knew his wicked brother in law was going on to go do this. At other points. He said, “I told Downtown everything that I knew. And in fact, I’ve always wanted him prosecuted and I told them that,” which is also implausible because the teaching pastor at Downtown Pres., named Downtown Church, was Chris Davis, who was Bryan’s protege. So what he’s asking you to believe is, “My protege who I helped go get a job at this new church plant, when I called and told him, ‘Don’t hire this sexual predator,’ said, ‘I don’t care that you’re my mentor, Bryan, I’m hiring anyway.'” That’s, that’s completely unbelievable.
JENNIFER BAKER: Well, Chris Davis was at Fellowship when originally when Rick Trotter was discovered the first time. So Chris Davis knew intimately of the details about what happened to Rick Trotter because he was there.
JULIE ROYS: So Chris Davis, you’re talking about the intern or resident or something?
JENNIFER BAKER: He was a resident at Fellowship Memphis on staff before he went to Downtown Presbyterian.
JULIE ROYS: Before he went to Downtown Presbyterian, where Rick Trotter, again, in 2011 got hired, stayed there and then went on full time staff. They’ve made actually, it’s interesting, The Summit statement initially said that he was hired several years later by Downtown Church. Now it’s saying that Rick Trotter was a contractor initially, but then he was hired full time. Greg, you said that these distinctions are kind of irrelevant. Am I right?
GREG SELBY: It’s parsing. That’s what they said about Pete Newman too. “Well, he was just a contractor.” Well, at what point do you hire pedophiles as contractors? At what point do you hire sexual predators as contractors and put them out. Now hiring Rick Trotter as a “contractor” who’s your worship leader, all that really means is he didn’t get health benefits. Because on the website at the time–and this is viewable in snapshots, you can go back in the Wayback Machine–he was listed on their website as their worship pastor.
JULIE ROYS: Yeah.
GREG SELBY: He also had an official email address at the church.
JULIE ROYS: At one point, you had also contacted Crawford Loritts, and Bryan Loritts, you had sent them a letter—this was back in 2010—what was in that letter? And what did you urge them to do?
GREG SELBY: The letter was mostly counseling in terms of the financial elements of what was going on. I wanted to see Rick restored. Now “restored” is different from “being in ministry” and even necessarily, “being in public.” I thought he deserved to go to prison. And my hope would be that God will get a hold of him and he might have the greatest prison ministry of all time, that God could use that. But I started seeing that they were throwing away evidence and doing this sort of thing that that was not going to happen. So, where do we go from there? Part of in my letter I mentioned to them that I would suggest that they not throw the evidence in the Mississippi River, that it would be best in a safe deposit box. I tried to approach it from a back end from their perspective. By the way, you have a lot of liabilities here too, that you ought to be able to protect the church from the liabilities that might arise, by having the evidence—to be able to accommodate victims or people that wanted to know. I mentioned in there that by the way, it was immoral to go ahead and try and pay your sister to avoid looking like you’re paying Rick, and that sort of thing. So, the letter went into a lot of details that were really about me wanting to see, okay, if they’re throwing away the evidence, if this is gonna end up in the papers, if this is going to happen, how do we come up with what’s best. Crawford called me back after he received it and went on to tell me how his daughter had always been a failure, the one that was married to Rick, which I found odd to tell a stranger and two, would actually be sort of disqualifying from the Ministry for him. So, at that point, without getting into details of all the family members, three out of the four had issues that should have disqualified Crawford from being in ministry. And I would have encouraged him to step down from the pulpit for a while and take care of his family. Apparently, he didn’t mind his wayward son in law getting on with Chick-fil-A again, which he was on the board of, or getting on with Second Pres. and their church plant and had no problem with that. So, I did have a problem with that. I sent a letter to the elders at Fellowship, admonishing them for passing this guy along. At that point, the Joe Paterno scandal at Penn State University—he was the football coach that had turned a blind eye to a pedophile on his . . .
JULIE ROYS: Right.
GREG SELBY: . . . staff—I said, “If you guys turn a blind eye you guys are Joe Paterno. Don’t turn a blind eye to this. God will hold you accountable.” I sent that and Bryan did receive that because I’d send it to three different emails. I sent it to every email address he had, or every one that I was aware of at least three of them at that point. And their response was to send the elder fixer out to talk to me about it and said, “This must stop.” By, “this must stop,” he didn’t mean, “This must stop—we must stop passing predators along.” He meant, “this must stop—you must shut up.”
JULIE ROYS: “You must shut up and we’re gonna continue to employ Rick Trotter.” And then again, he did it again. And when you mentioned Crawford and Bryan Loritts—somewhat ironic—this week, Moody Publishers just published a book called The Dad Difference written by Bryan Loritts, with a foreword by Crawford Loritts.
GREG SELBY: Right.
JULIE ROYS: Again, these are two men with a national platform.
JENNIFER BAKER: Amazing. I can’t wait to get my hands on that.
GREG SELBY: And when I mentioned that he said that about his daughter, I hope that she’s grown quite a bit, too. I think she was part and parcel to some of this and turning a blind eye intentionally.
JULIE ROYS: I want to point out that in 2015, that was the last year that Bryan Loritts was at Fellowship Memphis. He left there, went to a church in New York City, stayed there for about a year then went to a church in California. And he now has been hired by Summit Church, where J.D. Greear is the pastor. But in 2015, the last year he’s at Fellowship Memphis, Bryan has an organization called KAINOS. And he did a conference—2015—and he posted on—he had a Tumblr account at that point—and he posted just some meditations on KAINOS 2015, this conference, and he said, “Some thoughts on the conference.” “The worship was Christ exalting and prepared our hearts to receive what the Lord had for us.” “Shout out to Rick Trotter, Darnell Harris and the worship teams for their labor.” Rick Trotter, the man who he knew—Bryan knew—had made multiple videos of women secretly in the bathroom at Fellowship’s offices, at Rick Trotter’s home—Rick Trotter had confessed this—so Bryan, knowing all of this, has Rick Trotter be the worship leader at KAINOS. And I’ve heard he may have been at other of conferences too, maybe in 2014. We know he was in 2015 because this Tumblr post was up. Interestingly, as I started investigating this—Bryan also had it when he transitioned his Tumblr account on to a new blog—he put this post up. It had been posted up until just about a week ago, and then it vanished off of there as I started digging and looking into that. However, he forgot to delete his Tumblr account. So, I was able to go get this and look at it. What does that say to you, Greg?
GREG SELBY: It says to me that he was intentionally hiring him along the way. He could have stopped him at any point. So this whole, this whole, “I wanted him prosecuted and I would have never hired him,” is hogwash, because he, in fact, did hire him. Because, again, it benefited his family financially. It helps his sister out. This whole thing has been, as I told him at the time, when he and I met again at his office at that occasion I described, he said, you know, “I’ve always hated Rick Trotter.” I said, “Well, then why did you hire him?” The church cannot be the employment agency for wayward Loritts children. And he did it again. And kept doing it again at these conferences. It tells me he has not learned a thing in there. And at a minimum, his judgment is bad. Even if he said, well, he believed that Rick was restored and deserve that, then again, he needs to crush tinfoil on his spiritual antenna because Rick did in fact do that again and may have been doing it at those conferences. You know, Hamp Holcomb, the elder who, who was also part of passing him along to the new church in town, said at the time, “Rick—I have talked to all the experts in this field—Rick has a better chance of kicking a crack cocaine habit than he does of this paraphilia.” So why is so why are you going to pass him on? So at the time, he said, “We’re gonna send him to sex rehab for looks. It’s the right image that we need to we need to portray. Here’s what we’re doing.” But he didn’t believe for a second he was going to be healed. And Loritts knew better than that, too. And I told Loritts that I had those discussions with Loritts. And he knew better and passed him along anyway.
JULIE ROYS: And I did ask you at one point, you know, we have the connection with Bryan Loritts, so obviously, there’s a vested interest maybe in taking care of a family member. But beyond that, Rick Trotter was the voice of the Grizzlies—Memphis Grizzlies—kind of a local celebrity. And you were saying he kind of gave creds as far as the church being multiethnic because when he led worship, it wasn’t your typical “white” worship. It was much more of an African American expression of worship. It was very attractive to Memphis correct?
GREG SELBY: Rick’s a very talented musician. He’s very talented at what he does. In fact, more than Bryan Loritts, I would credit the growth of Fellowship to Rick, because at the time Rick came on it was it was probably, while they were claiming to be a multiethnic church, it was probably about 90% Caucasian. Rick came on and broadened the appeal to a much wider audience. And so I want to say kudos to him and I don’t. I mean, I think he’s talented in that regard. In fact, I think he’s more responsible for the growth Fellowship than Bryan Loritts is. That’s attractive. Why would Downtown Pres. hire him? In addition to Crawford Loritts knowing all the players involved and whatnot, he puts butts in the seats. As a performer, he’s good. As a human being, less so. You know, why would they continue to do this? Because all these guys are in cahoots. So when I when I would talk to other churches, literally, they’d say, “Greg, you need to fight this. You go.” I said, “Great. you’ll stand by me, right?” And they’d say, “Well, no, I’ve got to be on the lecture circuit with these guys. I can’t do that.” Because it damages their capability to earn a living. I mean, there’s a lot of double dipping and triple dipping that’s going on with all these churches. I mean, for Bryson, Bryson’s taken, you know, he’s getting paid from Fellowship. I presume he’s getting paid from Downline as well. Probably gets paid from Sage Hill. Gets paid from his Authentic Manhood. None of the rest of us in normal business world get to triple dip. If I have an electrician company, my electricians don’t get to go work for somebody else for a while and get paid. They don’t say, “Hey, by the way, I’m gonna take this week, you’re gonna pay me, it doesn’t count as vacation, and I’m gonna go work at some other place and get paid from them too.”
JULIE ROYS: Yes.
GREG SELBY: It’s a huge, huge cabal of people involved in a profiteering one hand washes the other.
JULIE ROYS: Yes.
JENNIFER BAKER: We’ve seen that at every juncture, when we reached out to different staff members about standing up and speaking up against this. Greg and I both had staff members that have said, “We can’t get involved. This is how we earn a living. We can’t speak up against this.” And didn’t you speak to the youth pastor at Fellowship currently at Fellowship Church?
GREG SELBY: Sure.
JENNIFER BAKER: Brian Crenshaw.
GREG SELBY: He and I had this discussion. He said, “Greg,” he said, “You need to go. You need to pursue this.” He said, “I’m afraid of what God’s gonna do to this place because of this.” I said, “Great. You’re gonna stand up with me right?” “Well, no, we’re building a new house.”
JULIE ROYS: And that, you know, I hate to say it, but that’s just been pervasive—that’s the evangelical industrial complex. I write about it all the time, but it is pervasive. And the double dipping—you have pastors that get full time salaries for preaching sermons, and then somebody edits them, recycles them and puts them on radio, and then they take, you know, a couple hundred thousand dollars salary from the radio ministry. It’s just unbelievable,
GREG SELBY: Right. And that’s how you get to be a paid member of the board at Chick-fil-A and all this sort of thing too, is because you give them both ethnic and Christian cred, by being a popular African American pastor that does this. It’s a crazy deal. You know, we’ve always, Evangelicals have always been quick to jump on the Catholics and for the corruption and the sexual corruption within the Catholic Church. But Evangelicals have been much better about monetizing than the Catholics are. The Catholics monetize it, but all goes back to the Vatican. Ultimately, there aren’t a lot of rich priests standing around. The Evangelicals have figured out how to get rich doing this. And they built bookstores and monuments up for sale speaking engagements. In fact, some people had some concerns about this at the seminary and I mentioned to him I said, you know, “The funny thing is, they always will tell you from the pulpit church is a battleship, not a cruise ship. But we’re supposed to be fighting for the gospel.” I said, “Meanwhile, when the real battles come up, the first thing these guys do is go get on a cruise ship and lead a cruise conference.” And I swear to Pete, the day after I said that, my wife came home she said, “Oh, do you hear Bryan Loritts is going to be leading the,” whatever it was, the K-LOVE cruise.
JULIE ROYS: Oh my gosh, I don’t even. It is unbelievable.
GREG SELBY: I mean, it was entirely literal. And the day after I told them that they really are leading cruise ships. And this is nonsense, and they lead very lucrative lifestyles. Loritts was living in a million-dollar home. You know, John Bryson, here, lives—despite the fact Fellowship is not nearly the biggest church in town by any stretch of the imagination—John Bryson lives in the house that was owned formerly by the family of the founder of Holiday Inn. Many, many thousands of square feet. 1000, 2000 square foot guest house, for their pool house and all this sort of thing. And it’s just, it’s ridiculous. And it is not above reproach. And the simplest thing to me on any of this for Summit with the Loritts is, “Is he above reproach?” I’m telling you he’s not. I’m telling you he hired a pedophile and tried to cover it up. I’m telling you that he tried to cover up for his brother in law. He passed him on to another church. He tried to pay off his sister so it wouldn’t look like that—and speaking of which Rick and Heather got six months severance. Do you know anybody else that sexually preys on the church, on their business, and get six months severance for it?
JULIE ROYS: Well, I’ll say this. It’s not that unheard of to provide for the wife who’s seen often as an innocent victim. So there is some precedent for that. I think the fact that they were trying to do it secretly, that certainly is concerning
GREG SELBY: And that they were staying together and they were going to be paying his bills. I mean, that would have been different if they’d been open and said, “You know, we ought to have? We need to take care of Heather’s needs. This was not her fault. Her husband did a wicked, wicked thing, and now they’ve lost their income.” I would say one of a couple things. One, either Crawford or Bryan was well financially capable, being able to take care of their sister. And I would have, if my sister were in a situation, I’d take care of her. I wouldn’t expect the church to have to cough up for it. But secondly, it’d be easy. You just have a heave-ho. Oh, great. We’re gonna put an ice chest in the back here. Everybody throw a little extra money in there. We’re gonna take care of Heather and the kids for well, while she sources out. People would have been happy to do that, but they didn’t want to be open and honest about it.
JULIE ROYS: Well, I know you have spent years trying to expose this and even contacted a number of churches where Trotter was going to be and tried to warn them, even colleges. And it’s been unbelievably frustrating because nobody has seemed to care. And really had J.D. Greear not hired Bryan Loritts, we probably wouldn’t be talking about this. Had Bryan not made a video and put it up on Instagram recently which caught my attention when he basically blamed the Christian media and bloggers for Darren Patrick’s death. A former Acts 29 pastor, former vice president of Acts 29. Seemed to me very self-serving as I started to get into this because there’s a reason why Bryan Loritts would not want bloggers speaking. Because then I realized everything that was in his past, all the skeletons in his closet and of course, he doesn’t want people blogging because the bloggers were the only ones that were talking about this. Everybody else was silent. And the Christian media, by and large, was silent. And so now it is coming to light. I want to talk to you, we can’t go into everything that’s happened over those years, although it’s absolutely fascinating because there is a lot more and there are a lot more people involved. And sadly, I know both of you are like, “We can’t even go to church anymore. We don’t feel like we can trust any of the church leaders.” And that breaks my heart. Although hearing your story, totally get it. But you recently participated—what I understand, there was a conference call with Dave Thompson, who is an elder at Summit Church. And Todd Unzicker, who is an associate pastor there at Summit. Todd, by the way, I’ve been asking, I had sent him a list of questions, very detailed list of questions concerning Bryan Loritts and his involvement, wanting answers to those questions. That was more than a week ago. He has not gotten back to me on those questions. What I do have is an email that someone forwarded me from Dave Thompson saying some of these things about how they’re reconciling conflicting information. However, you had this conference call. My understanding, Rachel Denhollander put this together. Rachel again, one of Larry Nasser’s victims, a lawyer, an advocate for sex abuse survivors. She put together this call with you and Jennifer and one other person who doesn’t want to go on the record, so we won’t name him. But then Dave Thompson, an elder at Summit, Todd Unzicker, a pastor and I know you suspect there may have been other people in the room, but those were the ones that were named. You had this conversation. Again, at this point, Bryan Loritts had already been hired. So they didn’t come to you and interview you before they announced that they had hired Bryan Loritts, but you had this call. I would like to hear—Greg, maybe you could go first—what your impression of that call was with the Summit leaders who ostensibly say they’re trying to research this fully and get to the bottom of it.
GREG SELBY: It was not actually a research mission on their part. It was a mission to find out what Jennifer and I were willing to say. So how could they defend whatever we said, and they needed to do some sort of jujitsu. So a conversation involves questions back and forth between parties, right? They wouldn’t answer any questions whatsoever. And they’re always pauses before they’d say anything, which leads me to believe—in fact, Rachel, again, who’s a lawyer herself fully believes there was a lawyer in the room with them trying to tell them not to go further, not to answer the questions we’d asked and this sort of thing. They’d made a number of claims that everyone they talked to, in fact, even in the email you received, in there, as I understand it, everything they say is that boy, everybody’s got the same story and everybody says Loritts is a great guy. Well, they talked to Jennifer I last week. And Jennifer and I don’t say, “He’s a great guy.” But that’s never mentioned in there. And given that they didn’t interview very many people, I would say, Jennifer and I at least make up a pretty high percentage of the people they talked to, much less than people who shared very specific details about what went down. Their defense is, “We called these people and they said, ‘Great, thanks, we talked to the elders and the elders said Bryan wasn’t at fault.’” Well sure, because the elders also wanted to say they weren’t at fault. Because if Bryan was at fault, so were they and everybody should have done jail time. So if you asked a criminal, “Did you and your cohorts do anything criminal?” They always say, “No.” Ask the other people who are involved. They did with us. It didn’t go well. They didn’t answer any questions, at all, and it was strictly to see if we what we were willing to say so that they could figure out how to have their PR flacks and legal counsel do it. I said, “Great.” I said, “Todd, so do you want me to give them your email when the newspapers start to call?” He said, “Uh, Uhhh,” he said, “Uh, uh, no, no. You just send them to send them to the to the uh PR, you know, we’ve got a department that handles those things.” I said, “But you’re the one who’s here in this conversation. Why shouldn’t they talk to you?” And there’s no answer for these sorts of things.
JULIE ROYS: Jennifer, what was your impression of that meeting?
JENNIFER BAKER: Well, it was interesting that Rachel had told us that the staff at Summit had some concerns about bringing Bryan Loritts on and so they had gone through all of the reports that they could find, all of the blogs, all of the comments, and that they couldn’t reconcile that with what Bryan was saying. And so that they had an interest in talking to someone who was there at the time that could provide clarification, could provide facts and could give some firsthand testimony. And so, this Zoom call was set up. And at the last minute, we were told that it wouldn’t be on Zoom, that it would be a conference line. And it was a little unsettling because then we had no way of knowing who was on the call. We were told that it was going to be just the two staff from Summit and then Rachel and us. And so it was a little disconcerting. And then once we got on the call, it became immediately evident that they weren’t interested in discerning or bridging the gap between Bryan’s statement and what they had been reading.
JULIE ROYS: How did that become evident? What was it that made you feel that way?
JENNIFER BAKER: They have asked me what if any proof I had, and—I think they wanted access to that proof and evidence—and I pushed back a little bit and said, “What kind of proof and evidence did you ask for from Bryan? Who did you talk to? And what victims have you talked to? Because I now know a list of 50 names of people that are involved. And I’ve started reaching out to them and none of them have been contacted.” And they said that they were not here to speak, or to ask questions. They just wanted information on what we knew. And when I asked them, “What specific information do you need from us? What questions can we answer that can fill in some of the discrepancies between what has been reported and what Bryan Loritts has said?” And they said, “Nothing. We’re just here to listen to whatever you want to say.”
JULIE ROYS: They wanted to listen to what you had to say. They wanted to know what proof you might have. But they didn’t ask you any questions? They didn’t seem inquisitive or curious about your first-hand account of what happened?”
JENNIFER BAKER: No, not at all. Not at all. It was astonishing to me. So I stopped and restated my question and said, “You’re telling me that there’s absolutely no information that would be useful for your proceeding with an investigation. There’s no information that Greg or I could give you have first-hand knowledge, conversations that would be helpful in discerning what’s true between what’s being reported by Loritts and what’s being reported in the media. And they said, “Absolutely not.”
GREG SELBY: Almost as concerning as not trying to get to the bottom of the truth is that there was no desire on their part to do any ministry. When we started this phone conversation, we started with a prayer. There was no prayer. There was no, “Hey,” –by the way, because of all this, I can point to the specific date, I haven’t been in a church in nine years and I don’t envision I will ever go back. There was not a, “Oh my gosh, I’m sorry. I hate to see a guy who’s been in leadership derailed by this and how can we help?” No concern whatsoever.
JENNIFER BAKER: That was such a striking point to me that there was no time to pray and even starting from the very beginning, the people that in ministry, in leadership at Fellowship Memphis, all the way till the time when I left the church, not once did any single one of them ask me spiritually, how I was doing, if I was okay, mentally, emotionally, why I was leaving the church. And it continued this conversation with Summit. You mentioned that they have Care Well or Caring Well. And I thought that is unbelievable that the leaders of what is supposed to be a ministry, caring for others, not once asked how we were spiritually and if there was anything that they could do if we were back in Church how we had wrestled with that. And that’s their whole business. That’s their whole purpose is to minister and care for the souls of others. And not once was that a part of the conversation. Not once was that brought up as a concern. In fact, the only person that ever asked me how I was doing spiritually and how I was doing emotionally and mentally with this was Greg Selby. And I remember that was so striking the first time I talked to him about what all it happened. He said, “Gosh, I’m sorry. I had no idea that that it was you.” And, “Are you okay?” And it was just striking because I thought that was the first time anybody had said, “This is terribly wrong.” And “Your relationship with God and your Savior is the most important.”
JULIE ROYS: In that conversation, though, I remember you did mention to me that at one point, I think it was near the end and I think the conversation had gone kind of sideways at that point. They did say to you, that they were sorry about what Rick Trotter had done to you.
JENNIFER BAKER: I was beyond . . . okay. In that conversation, it wasn’t a discussion about what Rick Trotter did or the incidents that happened. We didn’t get into that. We didn’t discuss the ramifications of that, or the details of that. What we did spend our time talking about was Bryan Loritts’ personal involvement in the cover up. And so at the end of the call, one of the staff members said, “We’d like to apologize for what Rick Trotter did to you.” And that was just unfathomable. And I told them like how offensive that is. That wasn’t even what we were here to talk about. We hardly even covered any information about that. What we spent the majority of time talking about was how Bryan Loritts was actively covering up abuse and using his power to silence victims. And they wanted to apologize for what Rick Trotter did. When I called that to their attention, they just said the call was over. And that was the end of the conversation.
JULIE ROYS: You’ve told me Jen that compared to what Rick Trotter did to you and the trauma that you felt, which was sizable, but compared to the cover up and the way the church has treated you and has responded to it, what Rick did pales in comparison. Correct?
JENNIFER BAKER: Every victim that I’ve talked to has agreed that that was a terrible, terrible, terrible thing that shouldn’t have been allowed to continue. But the real damage has been done by the manipulation, the intimidation and the effort to silence and keep separate and discredit all of the victims, has been the most traumatic and ongoing harm. Far greater than the incident that happened in 2010. And it’s had so many longer lasting effects than just that incident in 2010.
GREG SELBY: Rick, oddly, is a much better guide than the other people in here despite the monstrous things that he did. His brain is clearly broken. And he has a sickness and an illness and shouldn’t be on the pulpit but again, but he’s somehow more sympathetic than these other guys. These other guys have been systematic in their evil and are unapologetic about it. Rick would probably at least have the self-awareness to apologize for what he’d done. These other guys don’t. And that’s the real sickness. I’d be back in church, and no, I didn’t abandon church because I can’t believe somebody did something as wicked as Rick did. It was hard for me to get my head around because it’s so sick and gross. But I understand the sinful nature. What I couldn’t understand was that everybody was complicit. That was the part that got me. It was that Bryan Loritts and these other guys were part of a systematic cover up and it went beyond their church, went to other churches. Again, you know, the Downtown Pres. that you mentioned, he got caught again, ironically, taking videos of that pastor’s daughter, which is that pastor is too ignorant to even see the irony in there that God is basically beating him over the head with it going, “By the way, you screwed up.” And now we’re putting this guy back in leadership again. At a very minimum, even if he didn’t think what he was doing was evil and maybe he tried to disassociate himself, you’d have to say he’s got less common sense that God gave a grape-nut. My 13-year-old can tell you that this is immoral, and you don’t do it. And you don’t pass along somebody that’s been taking videos of women and children in the bathrooms. And these guys can’t discern that. That’s weird. That’s the part that I can’t reconcile is that there is a dark, evil presence to be able to blind you to that. And to have it happen over and over again. It’s not just, if it was just Bryan, he said, “Well, it’s my family” and he never passed him on, I would get it. But that you had an entire group of people and now the Southern Baptist Convention, covering up this stuff, when they know they’ve got a guy who hired a pedophile, covered up his brother in law, passed him on to another church has clearly lied about it, and you’re going to get into another element that totally calls his character into question. I couldn’t hire that guy to work in a secular business, much less would I put him on the pulpit.
JULIE ROYS: And let me just say, because you mentioned this, Jennifer, the other victims. And that you know, of 50 victims now. I have not gone through that entire list. I have contacted some of them. And because I mean, right now I feel like it’s important to get this information out as quickly as possible. I have contacted
Rosanne, the woman who first discovered this video. She hasn’t called me back. I’ve tried. It is hard to get victims to speak. But I’ll say this: even right now, if you’re a victim and you’re part of this and you know some of the truth about it, contact me through my website, JulieRoys.com. There’s a contact form right there, you can reach me. I would love to hear your story. We need to get the truth out about what actually happened. But let me just read—again, I didn’t get, even though I’ve asked repeatedly for a statement or for answers my questions, I have not received those from Summit. However, I have received an email that was forwarded to me from somebody who asked several questions to Dave Thompson an elder at Summit. And the response that he received, he forwarded to me. And it’s, it’s kind of long. I’m not going to read everything. Dave Thompson writes, “Pastor Bryan freely admitted that he has learned a lot over the past 10 years. Looking back, he now sees that he could have done things better. Among the changes Bryan would have made in hindsight is a more careful process of documentation that ensured greater accountability. Moreover, he wishes he had done more to prevent future ministry assignment for his brother in law. Indeed, some crimes particularly those that involve abuse remove a man or woman who commits them from any potential future church office.” It says, “Despite these reflective assessments of Bryan’s leadership in this matter, it became abundantly clear to Summit elders that Bryan had not attempted in any way to cover up the incidents of abuse that occurred at Fellowship Memphis in 2010, protect the abuser or discourage victims from seeking justice for their abusers. In fact, our thorough background check interviews and examination revealed quite the opposite.” Let me just say this letter was written after your conversation with Dave Thompson and Todd Unzicker there at Summit so they don’t mention any of that. But he does say, “Bryan reported to us that he spoke tonally to victims at the time of the incident before being removed from the case by the elders. He was removed by the elders due to his familial relationship with both the perpetrator and the victim. We spoke directly to the other victim and who was not a family member,” one of the victims was a sister of Bryan, “that person confirmed that Bryan did indeed encourage them to prosecute going so far as to say that Bryan told them that he would pursue a prosecution if he was in this person’s shoes. The victim also confirmed that Bryan was removed from the matter early in the process.” Let me just stop there. What do you think of the statement so far? And this talking to victims, apparently, they talked to two victims. One is a family member of Bryan’s, but the other one said, “Bryan encouraged us to prosecute.”
GREG SELBY: The one he would have talked to was the one that handed in the video in the first place. That would be Rosanne, who was on the video and was ultimately went to go live and presumably rent free and eat free and all that at Hamp Holcomb’s place.
JENNIFER BAKER: And they didn’t even talk to her. They did not even reach out to her. So Summit didn’t even bother to reach out to the most vocal or well-known victims. They failed reached out to me. They failed to reach out to Rosanne. They failed to reach out to Greg. And it wasn’t until Rachel had set up that meeting that we spoke and none of our statements are included in in their statement at all.
JULIE ROYS: And we don’t know who this other victim as you’re saying you think it was Rosanne.
GREG SELBY: Well, he had to have talked to her to some degree. She handed him the video.
JENNIFER BAKER: Yes.
JULIE ROYS: So yeah, that the statement doesn’t make sense if they’re referring to the only two victims that he talked to before being removed from the case. Right? It would have to be Rosanne and his sister, right?
GREG SELBY: Right.
JULIE ROYS: And yet they’re saying they spoke directly to the other victim who was not a family member. That has to be Rosanne. And yet, you’re telling me, Jennifer, that you’ve talked to Rosanne—she hasn’t talked to me, so I don’t have this directly from her but you’re saying you’ve talked directly to Rosanne—and she didn’t even know about this. Correct?
JENNIFER BAKER: Summit has never reached out to Rosanne. That’s unbelievable. If he’s saying that she was one of the people that he talked to, he hasn’t followed back up with her and Summit has not followed back up with her. It’s inexcusable.
GREG SELBY: They put some Flex Seal on this leaky raft of a story that they’ve got. Because it’s sinking. And the fact that they talked to they talked to his sister and his sister backed him up, that doesn’t hold a whole lot of water with me to say, “Oh, yeah, the sister said Bryan did exactly the right thing.” Well, yeah. It’s all bogus.
JULIE ROYS: Well, I would like to know who this victim is because I don’t know how it could be anyone other than Rosanne.
GREG SELBY: Right.
JULIE ROYS: But they’re saying somebody backed up Bryan’s story. So, would like to know who that person is.
GREG SELBY: Maybe Bryan had his wife pretend to be somebody. I mean, I’ve got no idea. This investigation is such a sham. Given that again, they never contacted Jennifer and they never contacted me because they can’t claim they didn’t know or didn’t know how to get ahold of me because somehow in two prior incidents, the private investigators seemed to be able to get ahold of me just fine. When Fellowship’s trying to cover this up, they know exactly how to get ahold of me. He’s not gonna call me because he knows I know the truth, and I will blister his behind.
JENNIFER BAKER: Well, Bryan Loritts and I were on a texting basis before this happened in 2010. So I know he knows how to reach out to me, but if he was so adamant about prosecuting Rick Trotter, then why didn’t he do that when he was in possession of the recordings. There was nothing stopping him. If he felt like justice needed to be done, there was nothing stopping him from moving forward with a police report and prosecuting him. Why did he put the responsibility on his sister, and on other victims to take the lead and to take care of this when he was in possession of the recordings, when he had knowledge of the incident? And when he was likely on videos that were recorded, he was using the same restroom I was using. So why did, why didn’t he then press charges and report this to the police and pursue prosecution if that’s what he so adamantly wanted?
GREG SELBY: Moreover, if you say, “I didn’t know,” then who told you that they went to the police? Because you need to throw them under the bus? The reason you won’t is because they’re gonna throw you back under the bus and they’re gonna say, “You knew it all along. Who are you trying to kid?”
JULIE ROYS: Well, it is interesting. Nobody is taking responsibility for what happened to that phone.
GREG SELBY: Right.
JULIE ROYS: So, Bryan either knows, or one of the elders know. Nobody’s taking responsibility. And if this story is going to be believable, whoever destroyed this phone needs to come forward and own it.
GREG SELBY: Summit supposedly asked Bryan and he would not tell them. I said, “Who told you that?” If I told you, “Who told you that?” He wouldn’t answer. And that was apparently good enough for them. “Okay, well, he didn’t want to answer. Fair enough. Welcome to Summit.”
JENNIFER BAKER: “We care well.”
JULIE ROYS: Here’s what they’re saying now. “Bryan told us that he turned over the phone to the elders the day after it was given to him, that he never saw it again. And because he was subsequently removed from the matter, he has no knowledge as to what the elders did with the phone. We connected with Fellowship Memphis, both current and former pastors, to attempt to confirm matters as Bryan’s involvement in the 2010 matter. We wanted to see if there were any significant discrepancies in the story. While they could not verify all the detail due to passage of time, personnel changes and poor documentation, they did not dispute in any part of Bryan’s statement.” And let me just say to your point a little bit earlier, Greg, this seems a little bit like investigating Nixon by asking Liddy and Haldeman, “What happened?”
GREG SELBY: Right.
JULIE ROYS: I mean, seriously, this is laughable.
Let me get back to this letter. Some other things they said: “Out of concern that minors may have been involved, Bryan instructed his staff to call Child Protective Services, CPS and advise that he received oral reports from a staff member that CPS was contacted. We also spoke with an additional staff member who served at Fellowship Memphis at the time and confirmed that CPS was contacted. We contacted CPS to find out what reports they had received. They told us they would not release the information except to a victim and their attorney and that, if any such records exist, they likely have been destroyed due to their policy of keeping information on file for only a fixed amount of time.” I don’t know even what to say about that. Apparently, there’s a staff person an unnamed staff person,
GREG SELBY: Right, so not even an elder. So basically, it’d be like if this happened at my company, and I said, “Hey, I told the Secretary to report it. And then I didn’t follow up on it to see if she really did or not. And I didn’t fire him.” If he didn’t, that’s crazy.
JULIE ROYS: And I don’t remember CPS being mentioned in the statement that Downtown Church and Fellowship Church made in 2016. Nothing about that. In fact, there was talk that there were no minors involved. And then I published recently, a tweet that Bryan Loritts had had sent out back in 2016, saying, “What are you talking about?” “I contact,” or “we,” he used, “we,” “we contacted DCS and the police.” Then I said, “why was it that he contacted DCS if there were no minors involved?” Now there’s a statement about DCS, and now they’re talking about it. Whereas this is somewhat new outside of that, that tweet but again, not confirmed.
GREG SELBY: The story is malleable on their part to, “Whatever we have to change the details of the story to cover ourselves we’re willing to do,” is what they’re saying. It’s wicked. I mean, to me, again, if there’s this much doubt, there’s any of 10,000 pastors you could have to come take that position that they have opened at Summit right now. Why are they so determined to protect Bryan Loritts on this when they get no reasonable person would?
JULIE ROYS: Let me go back to this statement. They also talk about Bryan reaching out to authorities, “A Fellowship Memphis staff member,” unnamed again, “from 2010 confirmed to us that they did contact appropriate authorities based on Bryan’s instructions to do so. Our legal counsel contacted the Memphis Police Department and their central records office to inquire if a police report or any documentation on this matter existed. They advised that no such report or documentation existed regarding this matter, in part because they no longer retain such records due to the passage of time.” That in and of itself, to me, I just take a little bit of umbrage on that, because in 2016, as you mentioned earlier, the records did exist. And the police said, “We were never contacted.” Jennifer, you contacted police, they said, “We were never contacted.”
JENNIFER BAKER: That’s correct.
JULIE ROYS: Now, they’re claiming that there’s a staff person that says, “Police were contacted.” There’s no corroboration for that. So, there’s a number of assertions in here that one, either can’t be corroborated or two, involve the exact people who were involved in this cover up to begin with,
GREG SELBY: who have a vested interest.
JULIE ROYS: Yeah. And to be able to say, with conclusive, like they do here, and then they close, “There is an unresolved question about the records.” And they’re a little bit frustrated that they can’t get these records. “However, even with that unresolved questions, it was clear to us for his part, Bryan did not attempt to protect the abuser or discourage the victims from pursuing justice. It was clear that he not only communicated openness to prosecuting the offender, he desired and encouraged it. Furthermore, he is expressed not only his regret for not doing more to ensure that the church he was a part of was ready to deal with such an event, but also an eagerness to learn more about what best practices are for prevention, reporting and care and to help promote them in churches so that churches are safe from abusers, and places of safety for the abused.”
GREG SELBY: Right, which part of it was clear that he tried to do this involves church discipline—anybody that opens their mouth.
JENNIFER BAKER: When was the statement made?
JULIE ROYS: Monday June 1,
GREG SELBY: After they talked to us last week.
JULIE ROYS: last week, in May.
JENNIFER BAKER: Okay. Shame on Summit for taking full hour to meet with Greg and I to gain more insight and information, and then put out this blatantly false statement in complete contradiction to what we testified to and what we spelled out for them.
GREG SELBY: Well, you might say, whose testimony holds more weight Bryan’s or mine? Here’s what I would say to that. One of us has ever, ever in his life stood up to protect the church from a sexual predator. And it’s not Bryan. And that’s the one that want to hire. That’s weird.
JULIE ROYS: Well, he is hired right now. He is the executive pastor at Summit right now. Moody Publishers just published his new book, The Dad Difference, and from what I hear through the grapevine, Bryan is being groomed for a large leadership position in the Southern Baptist Convention. Friends, I hope if you’re listening right now, that you will take these matters to heart, that you will speak to people. If you’re related at all to this church or to the Southern Baptist Convention, to Moody Publishers, that you will say something, and you will let your voice be heard, just like Greg and Jennifer did today. Jennifer and Greg, I am so appreciative. I know you guys have taken so many lumps for what you have done and for speaking out. But thank you from the bottom of my heart for the sake of the church, for the sake of victims, and most of all, for the sake of the reputation of Jesus Christ. Thank you.
GREG SELBY: Thank you.
JENNIFER BAKER: Thank you for having us. And thank you for your perseverance on this.
JULIE ROYS: Well, I am glad to do it and glad to be a part of it. And thanks so much for everybody who’s listening right now to The Roys Report, a podcast that’s dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. If you’d like to find me online, just go to JulieRoys.com. Also, if you’d like to help me continue my investigative work, please consider making a donation and support this ministry. Also pray for this ministry. I desperately need your prayers and I rely on your support. Thanks again for listening and engaging. And again, please work on your own part. Fight for the purity of the church. You’re a part of this too. God bless.