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DOJ opens sex abuse investigation into Southern Baptists, subpoenas leaders

The Justice Department has started a study into sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, and the executive committee of america largest Protestant denomination has received a federal subpoena regarding the the probe, the group said Friday.

A spokesman told The Washington Times the committees general counsel acknowledged the [executive committee] has received a subpoena. No people have been subpoenaed at this time. This is a continuing investigation and we have been not commenting on our discussions with the [Justice Department].

The Baptist group said in a statement Friday it recently became aware that the Department of Justice had begun a study in to the 13.7-million-member church along with multiple SBC entities.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately react to a obtain touch upon the investigation.

An unbiased investigation of sexual abuse charges in the Southern Baptist Convention resulted in the May release of a 400-page report documenting a decades-long coverup of the abuse and related misconduct.

Individually and collectively each SBC entity is resolved to totally and completely cooperate with the investigation, Fridays statement said. While we continue steadily to grieve and lament past mistakes linked to sexual abuse, current leaders over the SBC have demonstrated a company conviction to handle those issues of days gone by and so are implementing measures to make sure they’re never repeated later on.

The Rev. Bart Barber, elected in June as SBC president, signed the statement plus a group that included the presidents of seven affiliated seminaries, the UNITED STATES and International missions boards, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the groups executive committee.

Our commitment to cooperate with the Department of Justice exists from our demonstrated commitment to transparently address the scourge of sexual abuse, the statement said.

The statement says the SBCs efforts to improve just how sexual abuse charges are handled in the group aren’t finished, adding that the denominations recently announced Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force begins its work so when each entity has strengthened its efforts to safeguard against abuse.

The federal investigation comes 15 months after Christa Brown, a female who said she was sexually abused a large number of times by way of a Southern Baptist pastor, needed a probe.

The sources of the government should be taken to bear to comprehensively investigate sexual abuse, indifferent responses and institutional enablement in the Southern Baptist Convention, Ms. Brown wrote at Religion News Service.

After news of the Justice Department investigation broke, Ms. Brown wrote on Twitter, Fingers crossed, adding, I am hoping this can be the beginning of something.

At its June business meeting in Anaheim, California, SBC delegates voted to generate an abuse reform task force and the appropriation of $3 million to produce a database of credibly accused and/or criminally convicted sexual abusers within the denomination open to churches looking into prospective employees or volunteers. An additional $1 million would set up a victim care fund to supply counseling services to abuse victims.

After his election at the Anaheim convention, Mr. Barber vowed to help make the Baptist church a hunting ground where predators are available and exposed.

Predators have realized the vulnerabilities of our bodies; it really is time for Southern Baptists to understand how nimble and resilient our Baptist polity is usually to put sexual predators on observe that Southern Baptist churches certainly are a dangerous place for them, Mr. Barber said.

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