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Τετάρτη, 17 Ιουλίου, 2024

Texas Megachurch pastor who sat on Trump faith board resigns after admitting molesting girl, 12, in the 1980s

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Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Morris has resigned after admitting having “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady” in the 1980s, after a woman accused him of molesting her when she was 12 years old.

Gateway Church’s board of elders said in a statement, released on Tuesday, that they’d accepted the resignation from Morris, a senior pastor and a former member of Donald Trump’s faith advisory board.

The board said it had hired a law firm to to conduct an independent review to make sure they “have a complete understanding of the events” from 1982 to 1987.

The pastor’s accuser Cindy Cemishire, previously told WFAA that Morris began abusing her on Christmas Day in 1982 when she was 12 years old. The pair had met when he was a traveling preacher and began preaching at her family’s church in Oklahoma.

She said Morris and his wife and young son became close to her family and that he was staying at her house in 1982 when he asked her to come to his room. He told her to lay on his bed and then began touching her inappropriately, said Clemishire, now 52.

Gateway Church’s board of elders said in a statement, released onTuesday, that they’d accepted senior pastor Robert Morris’ resignation ( 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Clemishire said the abuse continued until 1987, when she told her parents.

In a previous statement, Morris admitted the “innapropriate sexual behaviour” but insisted that he had not had intercourse with the young girl.

“When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying. It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong,” he said.

The board said that before Friday, they “did not have all of the facts of the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the length of the abuse.”

They said that their understanding of the “extramarital relationship” that Morris had discussed many times throughout his ministry was not that it was “abuse of a 12-year-old child.”

In his previous statement, Morris said the family forgave him when the “situation” was “brought to light,” at which point he began receiving counseling.

“In March of 1987, this situation was brought to light, and it was confessed and repented of. I submitted myself to the Elders of Shady Grove Church and the young lady’s father.

“They asked me to step out of ministry and receive counseling and freedom ministry, which I did. Since that time, I have walked in purity and accountability in this area,” Morris said in his statement, adding he and his wife met with the survivor and her family in 1989.

“I asked their forgiveness, and they graciously forgave me,” he said.

Morris (left) was also a former member of former president Donald Trump’s faith advisory board (AFP via )

Clemishire told WFAA that though her family forgave him, they never supported Morris returning to the ministry.

“I think leaders can get caught up and think it’s our responsibility to protect God and it’s not. Our responsibility is to protect the people,” she added. “God is bigger than all of that.”

The church, based in the Dallas suburb of Southlake, was founded by Morris in 2000 and has multiple locations in the area and says over 100,000 people attend each weekend.

Morris, the founding pastor, has been politically active. He was among those on former President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board. The Gateway Church hosted Trump on its Dallas campus in 2020 for a discussion on race relations and the economy.

Morris’ son, James Morris, is set to take over his senior pastor duties in 2025, according to the church’s website. The elder Morris will remain a primary speaker on weekends.

Morris’ confession comes after Dallas pastor Dr Tony Evans, 74, announced he was leaving the Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, which he founded in 1976.

Evans, who was the first Black person to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, announced his resignation after he lost the mother of his four children to bile duct cancer in December 2019 and remarried a year later.

He said he had chosen to leave because he had fallen short of the “absolute supreme standard of truth” he aimed to live “due to sin.”

He did not specify what the “sin” entailed, but added: “While I have committed no crime, I did not use righteous judgement in my actions.”



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