Report: Hundreds abused by Southern Baptist leaders, workers

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Two Texas newspapers found hundreds of Southern Baptist church leaders who have been accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years. That includes several leaders from North Texas.

The San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle came up with a list of about 380 church leaders and workers who have either been convicted of a sex crime or credibly accused since 1998. They leave more than 700 victims, many who were shunned by their churches, according to the six-month joint investigation.

Two men who are on the list used to work at the Arapaho Road Baptist Church in Garland. Joshua Earls worked for the church as a youth minister for four years from 2008 to 2012. His younger brother, Jordan Earls, was a youth ministry volunteer.

Joshua Earls was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the receipt of explicit child pornography after police in Garland said he urged a 14-year-old girl in the church to send him inappropriate pictures and videos. Jordan Earls was also sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Police said he groomed teenagers and convinced them to send explicit pictures and videos.

The two newspapers found at least eight Southern Baptist church workers with ties to North Texas who were accused of sexual misconduct.

According to the report, at least 35 church pastors, employees and volunteers who exhibited predatory behavior were still able to find jobs at churches. Some registered sex offenders returned to the pulpit. Several past presidents and prominent Southern Baptist Convention were among those that victims criticized for concealing or mishandling abuse complaints within their churches or seminaries.

The whole thing came about after 10 years ago, the newspapers reported that several of the victims of sexual abuse came forward asking the church to create a database of child predators in the church. When the church decided not to create the database, the newspapers decided to do it for them.

The Rev. J.D. Greear, who was elected the SBC's president last June, says the abuses described in the newspapers' story "are pure evil."

“Anything that can bring to light predators that can make our churches as safe as possible, would be a step in the right direction," said Carolyn Alvey, a spokeswoman for Arapaho Road Baptist Church.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.