First Baptist says corrective steps are being taken after members accused of abuse

First Baptist says corrective steps are being taken after members accused of abuse

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A new report outlines hundreds of cases of abuse in the Southern Baptist Church, two of them in the New Orleans area.

The incidents have church leaders urging that more be done as individual churches grapple with change.

Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention are promising to crack down on abuses, after a Houston Chronicle-San Antonio Express investigation, alleging that nearly 400 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers have faced sexual misconduct allegations in the past 20 years.

The report outlines four cases in Louisiana.

Jonathan Bailey was a youth minister at First Baptist Church in Lakeview back in 2014 when he was named in a 13-count indictment alleging improper sexual conduct and kidnapping of a juvenile from church, in this case a 14-year-old girl. He’s now serving a 10-year prison term.

“It hurt, and as a result it made us desire to be a much more educated congregation, and be more diligent in protecting our children,” said First Baptist youth minister Faye Scott.

The victim in that case is said to be doing okay. She is one of nearly 700 victims nationwide mentioned in the investigation.

The other local case involves a volunteer associate pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church of Slidell back in 2007. At the time, 67-year-old James Griffin was booked on two counts of aggravated sex crimes and 47 counts of possession of child pornography. The church is no longer in existence.

The other Louisiana cases involve a former pastor name Holland McMorris who was arrested and convicted in Rapides Parish back in 2010. He is currently serving a 25-year sentence for sex crimes. The fourth state case was a volunteer youth minister, also from Rapides Parish, named Angelo Golatt. He was convicted of forcible rape and is serving a 40-year sentence.

Scott is currently working on a dissertation on church security issues. She said her church has taken numerous steps to try and prevent child sex abuse, including online. They also require in-house training, a criminal background check and a certification that must be renewed every three years.

“We added cameras and closed off areas that were left open during worship service,” said Scott.

She said often times, just showing predators that they’re being watched can help thwart sexual attacks.

And then there was a statement from J.D. Greear, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, that said: “The abuses described in the Houston Chronicle are pure evil. ...There can simply be no ambiguity about the church’s responsibility to protect the abused, and be a safe place for the vulnerable.”

The Southern Baptist Convention is the second-largest faith group in the U.S. with 47,000 churches and 15 million members.

Though church leaders are offering resources and urging that steps be taken to prevent child sex abuse, it’s up to individual churches to take action.

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