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Southern Baptist Pastor: Minister Accused of Abusing 13 Boys Never Investigated

By Yonat Shimron
SBC Executive Committee president Ronnie Floyd speaks during an open meeting on June 14, 2021. (RNS photo: Adelle M. Banks)

A Georgia pastor has identified up to 13 boys he says were sexually abused by a Southern Baptist minister whom top leaders of the denomination in effect cleared two years ago when they declined to inquire about the church where the minister was working.

Troy Bush, the pastor of Rehoboth Baptist in Tucker, Georgia, said he undertook his own inquiry of the minister, a former staffer at Rehoboth Baptist, after learning that a former member of his church had been sexually assaulted by the minister in the 1980s.

The minister has never been criminally charged. But Bush said the minister confessed to him and others that he abused several boys during his tenure at half a dozen Baptist churches in Georgia.

At about the same time, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee working group declined to inquire further about Trinity Baptist Church in Ashburn where the minister was serving.

“I think the way this was handled was poor and potentially disastrous as it protected and allowed this person to remain in a pastoral ministry role in one of our churches,” said Bush, referring to the work group’s decision not to initiate an inquiry.

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Bush penned a June 14 article in “SBC Voices,” an independent Southern Baptist blog, detailing his findings. 

The specter of sex abuse is again on the agenda of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting Tuesday and Wednesday (June 15 and 16) in Nashville, Tennessee, in the wake of explosive allegations that top echelons of the denomination mishandled several sex abuse claims, bullied sex abuse survivors and rushed to end inquiries into churches where sex abusers were alleged to work.

Several pastors and sex abuse victims are now calling for a broader investigation into the 14 million-member denomination’s handling of sexual abuse allegations.

Pastor Troy Bush

“It’s just like the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts: Kick the can down the road,” said Dave Pittman, 53, who alleges he was sexually abused by the minister from 1982 to 1985 when he was a boy at Rehoboth Baptist Church. “It’s still the truth.”

Pittman’s story was detailed in the Houston Chronicle’s 2019 “Abuse of Faith” investigation, which found some 700 people had been sexually abused in Southern Baptist churches. Pittman never pressed charges against his abuser because the statute of limitations in Georgia had expired.

That series of stories led Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear to identify 10 churches where, he believed, the denomination needed to determine if they have employed sex abusers or allowed them to volunteer with children. A week later, an Executive Committee work group declined to consider seven of those churches, including Trinity Baptist. 

With the help of Pittman, who was once a member of his church, Bush identified 10 boys, now men, who acknowledged being abused by the minister who has since left Trinity. Bush said he received credible, but as yet unconfirmed, reports of two additional men the minister is alleged to have abused at Georgia Baptist churches and a 13th who was not a church member. 

Members of the Executive Committee work group, including Mike Stone, who was defeated Tuesday in his bid for the SBC presidency, have said they did not have the power to conduct investigations into the churches that were dropped from Greear’s list. 

Bush said they acted too soon.

“Those engaging this inquiry should have done, at a minimum, a sufficient level of information gathering,” he added. “In the case with Trinity, that did not happen.”

Yonat ShimronYonat Shimron is a national reporter and senior editor for Religion News Service.



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8 Responses

  1. That “offender database” that Christa Brown was pushing for 20 years ago keeps coming to mind. . . . I would love to think the SBC as a group is redeemable, but there is so much rot so deep that I wonder.

    1. As long as the male leaders and male messengers keep making the decisions it will be irredeemable.

  2. So the SBC believes it has the power to disenfranchise churches who call female clergy but doesn’t have the power to even investigate churches with multiple credible allegations of child sexual abuse?

    Riiiiiiight, SBC. Sure. Whatever. And you wonder why your numbers are declining?

    Hint: It’s not the women’s fault.

    1. It’s not “disenfranchising” though, as the Bible itself, GOD’S own Spirit Inspired word is clear that women are not to be Clergy in ANY form. Why a Christian woman even questions that escapes me. As far as the allegations, I agree 100%. The churches very well should have been investigated AND action taken against the guilty, rather than sweep it under the rugs as they did.

      1. “Disenfranchising” means to remove their ability to vote, i.e., to remove them from SBC membership.

        Whatever you think about women clergy, it points out the the SBC organization DOES have the ability to take action against its member churches. They have just decided that child sexual abuse isn’t important enough for them to do so.

  3. I think one reason this happens, besides corruption and bad press, is Christians too often think they should forgive their brethren even for the most egregious sins. This is a deceitful, misconstrued biblical worldview when it comes to sexual predators,

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