Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn. Leaders of the SBC stonewalled and denigrated survivors of clergy sex abuse for years, according to a 288-page scathing report.
Southern Baptist pastors in Florida are among about 700 of the denomination’s clergy who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse, the church’s governing body said with the release of a secretly maintained list late Thursday.
The document dump comes after a bombshell report Sunday from an independent investigator that said the top leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention stonewalled and denigrated sexual abuse victims for two decades to protect their own reputations and remained “singularly focused on avoiding liability” for the church.
According to the report, the Florida pastors on the Southern Baptist Convention’s list of “credibly accused” clergy are:
- Robert Harvey Alexander, 41, a former deacon at First Baptist Church in Tampa, FL committed cybersex with teens in 1999. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison.
- Dan Earl Allmond, a former youth pastor at Tampa Baptist Church in Tampa, FL was charged with having sex with a minor. As of 2007, he was listed as a sex offender in Florida.
- Kenneth Baxley, 36, pastored at Central Baptist Community Ministries in Lakeland, FL. He was convicted in 2000 in reference to his involvement with 17 and 12-year-old girls, the list states. Baxley also failed to register as a sex offender for a 1983 offense. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
- Dana Brashear was a youth group leaderat Crossroads Baptist Church in Fort Myers, FL. He was sentenced to 15 years and two months in prison but suspended to 10 years and 22 months of it for abusing a 12-year-old boy in 2005. She was ordered to serve 10 years and register as a sex offender after release.
- Brain Siegfried Brijabag, 34, was a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Brookville, FL who reportedly had consensual sex with a 17-year-old female. In May 2012, he pleaded no contest on one count of child abuse and received three years of probation. He was NOT required to register on the sex offenders registry. He received deferred adjudication in 2012 on a charge of child abuse. A motion to terminate probation was granted in 2014.
- Robert Browning taught at a Christian school run by Cedar Creek Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL and was a former youth pastor at Old Plank Road Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He was arrested in 2018 on charges of sexual battery, molestation and transmitting pornographic images to a girl under the age of 16. On Nov. 28, 2018, Browning pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven–and–a–half years in prison, followed by seven-and-a-half years probation. He will be forced to register as a sex offender.
- Jim Kilburn Bruce was arrested for sexually abusing two women he met at College Park Baptist Church in Palatka, FL. According to the list, he may have been a deacon at the church. On March 31, 2009, he was convicted and is a registered sex offender in Florida.
- Jeffery Lamar Carter was a recreation minister at Madison Street Baptist Church in Starke, FL who faced charges of lewd and lascivious conduct on a person under 16. He ultimately plead no contest to aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony and received five years probation, according to State of Florida v. Jeffrey Lamar Carter in the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Bradford County.
- Anthony Phillips Denton, 57, was a former counselor at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. The abuse occurred while employed as a music minister at Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC. Denton was charged with 16 counts of taking indecent liberties with children between 1977-81 in NC.
- Jerome Dieuseul was a pastor at South Florida Baptist Church in Miami, FL. He was accused of sexually assaulting a girl in 2010.
- Stephen Lee Edmonds, 44, was a deacon and youth minister at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He was arrested after a 16-year-old boy came forward saying Edmonds improperly touched him twice in 2000 and sent him pornographic material over the internet. Other victims came forward, according to the list. In 2003, Edmonds was convicted on three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child for molesting three boys. He was sentenced to one year in prison and five years probation. He is listed on the Florida sex offenders registry.
- Bobby Harold Epps, was a Baptist pastor (Church Name Unstated) in Starke, FL. He pleaded guilty to performing a lewd and lascivious act in the presence of a child under the age of 16 in 1986. He was convicted of fondling a girl in a church office and masturbating in her presence when giving her a ride home following a church activity, the report said.
- Harley Francis was a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Powers Drive Baptist Church in Orlando, FL. He was convicted of abusing 6 girls ages 6-13. He was sentenced in June 1986.
- Jermey Patrick Gable, 31, was a former youth minister at First Baptist Church in Port St. Lucie, FL. He pleaded no contest on a charge of child abuse and was sentenced to five years probation in 2007.
- Keith Geren was a youth minister at Wayside Baptist Church in Miami, FL. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for molesting 12 boys in 1994. Wayside Baptist Church received a $6.7 million judgment for negligence in hiring.
- Tommy Gilmore was a former youth and education minister at First Baptist Church in Farmers Branch, TX who was accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl. The case was settled in 2006. Gilmore also was former minister, FBC, Tyler, TX, former employee, FBC, Atlanta, GA, former Children’s Minister, FBC, Oviedo, FL, Children’s ministry, Cornerstone Community Church, Center, FL Florida.
- Darrell Gilyard, 45, was a pastor at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL who was investigated on allegations of inappropriate text messages. According to reports, there are numerous past reports of inappropriate sexual misconduct with women in past churches. He is currently a registered sex offender in Florida for two 2009 convictions of lewd and lascivious molestation of two teenage girls, one between 12 and 15 years old and another under 16. He went back to work at another church in 2012 after serving a three-year prison term. Worked at a large church in Dallas County in the 1990s, but he left the state for Florida after being publicly accused of molesting young congregants, according to articles published by the Dallas Morning News.
- Nathan John Gorzelanczyk was a youth counselor and church volunteer involved with the Guardian ad Litem program. He was convicted of lewd or lascivious molestation (four counts) with a child or children under 16 and possession of a photo showing sexual performance of a child. He is a registered sex offender and incarcerated in Florida.
- Robert “Bob” Gray, 80, was a former pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL who was charged with two counts of capital sexual battery for abusing two 9-year-old girls in the 1980s and a 9-year-old girl in 1947. Gray was also assistant pastor at Hampton Baptist Church. Gray’s death ended the criminal case but not the civil lawsuit.
- Thomas Warren Halsey was a deacon at First Baptist Church in Leesburg. He was found guilty in 2016 for abuse than happened in 2014. He was convicted of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12. He was sentenced to life in July 2016, according to court and prison records. He is incarcerated in Florida.
- James Richard Harris was a pastor at Second Baptist Church in Belle Glade, FL. He was charged with sexual assault of a child in 2009. According to the list, “He was found guilty of performing two sex acts on a 15-year-old boy he had lured with promises of introductions to football scouts and trainers to further the teen’s chances of NFL stardom.”
- William Murray Hendricks Jr., 50, was a pastor at Clay Hill Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 7-year-old girl in 1998. He is registered on the FL Sex Offenders Registry.
- Lyndon Howell was an associate pastor at Community Missionary Baptist Church in Delray Beach, FL. He was arrested for abusing a child, the list reports.
- Jerry Hutcheson was a pastor at Red Oak Baptist Church in Baker, FL. He sexually abused an 86-year-old woman and was convicted to four years in prison. He was also convicted of first-degree sexual abuse in Alabama in 2007 and served four years in prison. He has since been released. He is a registered sex offender in Alabama. He was previously registered in Tennessee based on a 2004 sexual abuse offense.
- Fritzner Jean, 35, was a pastor at First Haitian Baptist Church of Jesus Christ in Green Cove Springs, FL. He was charged with one count of lewd battery and two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor in 2008. He is a registered sex offender in Florida for unlawful sexual activity with a 16- or 17-year-old.
- Robert Thomas Jenkins-Hayes, 42, was arrested in 2005 after a 15-yr-old boy came forward with allegations. The pastor reported he was aware of instances when he had kissed boys on the lips and embraced them for too long. The police had never been officially reported. Hayes was a church youth volunteer and volunteer with the AWANA program for youth at Rocky Bayou Baptist Church in Niceville, FL.
- Kenneth Johnson, 39, was a pastor at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Pierce, FL. He was convicted in 2002 of performing a sex act with a minor in 2000. The church voted on Dec. 15, 2003 to retain Johnson even though he was convicted in December 2002.
- Dale Alan Julio was a former associate pastor at Rocky Bayou Baptist Church in Niceville, FL from 1998-2009. He was arrested for the sexual battery of a 6-year-old. On June 11, 2018, he was convicted of sexual battery by adult/victim under 12 and lewd or lascivious molestation victim under 12 years by an offender 18 or older. He is in prison.
- Alexie Kelley was a former pastor at Little Rock Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He pleaded no contest to having sex with a teenage girl in 2005 and was sentenced to six months in jail, three years of probation and must register as a sex offender.
- Russell Dion Lewis was a worship leader and assistant youth pastor at Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, FL. He was convicted of three counts of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation of a child 12-15 years old. He was sentenced to 28 years in 2011. He is incarcerated in Florida.
- Randy Lee Morrow, 41, former youth minister of Countryside Baptist Church in Clearwater, FL, was sentenced to 135 yrs. in prison for abusing three teenage boys. He was convicted in Pinellas County on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior and sexual battery of a minor. He is serving a 30-year prison sentence in Florida.
- Douglas Myers, 57, former pastor, of Triangle Community Church, Tavares, FL, and former pastor of Harbor Baptist Fellowship in Eustis, FL and Concord Baptist Church in Russellville, AL, pleaded guilty for abusing a 13-yr- old boy, a church member’s grandson in 2006. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in Florida.
- Brian Neiswender, a former youth and music pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in Lakeland,FL and former youth pastor at Christ Community Church in Kingston, FL pleaded no contest to charges of indecent assault and corruption of minors in 2003. He was sentenced to 8 to 16 months in jail.
- Matthew Christopher Porter, a former youth minister at Bethel Baptist Church in Manatee County, FL is said to have planted hidden cameras in his house to film girls ages 12 to 16. He pleaded out to 9 counts of voyeurism. He served four months and one year probation.
- William Henry Randall pastored at St. Simon Baptist Church in Orange Park, FL. He was arrested for “sexual battery on a child” in 2015.
- Leon Rankins, III, 35, was a pastor at Restoration Full Gospel Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. He was accused of sexually abusing an 11-yr-old boy. In 1994, he pleaded no contest to two counts of sexual battery and was sentenced to two years of house arrest and two years of probation. In 2007, he was also charged with having sex with a 13-year-old boy.
- David Joe Rich, 55, former pastor at Springs Community Baptist Church in Apopka, FL was arrested for abusing 2nd – 3rd graders in 1998 and 1995-96. He was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison and 10 years probation.
- William Allen Richardson II was a volunteer associate youth pastor and choir director at First Baptist Church in Mango, FL. He is a registered sex offender in Florida for a conviction of using the internet to lure a child for sex. He was sentenced in 2014 to 18 months in state prison, records show.
- Marshal A. Seymour, 40, was a volunteer youth minister at First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, FL and former youth minister atParkway Assembly of God in Mobile, AL. He faced charges of unlawful sexual activity and three counts of using a child in sexual performance in 2007. He is a registered sex offender in Florida. As part of a plea agreement, he was convicted of three counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and one charge of directing sexual performance of a child. He was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years on each count. He was released in 2016.
- Murrvin Sheppard was a pastor at Mount Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Miscanopy, FL. He was arrested for sexual battery of a female victim under age 12 in 2016. The incident is alleged to have happened in his office. He is serving a court-ordered term of community monitoring under the authority of the Department of Corrections and/or the Florida Parole Commission and is registered as a sexual predator.
- Samuel A. Sutter was a youth pastor at Openwater Church in Odessa, FL. He pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious battery, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and use of a computer to solicit illegal acts. He was sentenced to 10 years in 2017. He is incarcerated in Florida and ordered to register as a sex offender, records show.
- Richard Sweat, former youth pastor at Lake Shore Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL, was found guilty of possessing child pornography on his computer. He was convicted of possession of child pornography and of sexual exploitation of minors, according to federal court records. He received a 60-month sentence. He is a registered sex offender in Florida.
- John Maxwell Ware, 53, was a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Pine Castle, FL. He was charged with molesting children under 12-years-old on church grounds in 2018. He took a plea deal to avoid trial. He was convicted of lewd or lascivious molestation of a child less than 12 years old. He is serving a 15-year prison sentence, according to the report.
- Aaron D. West, 50, a former minister at Faith Baptist Church in Lawtey, FL was convicted of sexually abusing multiple children between 2002-2006.
- Scott Dewayne Wright was a youth pastor at Crossing Church in Tampa, FL. He was convicted of two counts of sex with a 16- or 17-year old. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
Patch has reached out to a number of the Florida churches named above for comment, but they did not immediately respond. We’ll update this story if we hear back.
The release of the names is a public repudiation of the way leaders at the nation’s largest Protestant denomination have responded to allegations of sexual abuse in the past. In doing so, the SBC’s top leaders said they’re committed to listening more attentively to survivors of clergy sexual abuse. » Read the full list of accused clergy.
“This list is being made public for the first time as an initial, but important, step towards addressing the scourge of sexual abuse and implementing reform in the Convention,” the SBC Executive Committee said in a statement on its website. “Each entry in this list reminds us of the devastation and destruction brought about by sexual abuse. Our prayer is that the survivors of these heinous acts find hope and healing, and that churches will utilize this list proactively to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us.”
The denomination also released the full report of the investigation conducted by Guidepost Solutions on its handling of sexual abuse allegations. It’s available on the website, too.
The denomination’s executive committee said Wednesday in a joint statement with Guidepost Solutions, which conducted the investigation, that it is creating a hotline for sexual abuse survivors that will be “an important stopgap measure” until more meaningful reform can be addressed at the SBC annual meeting in Anaheim, California, next month.
Gene Besen, the interim executive committee counsel, said in a statement after the meeting that the prompt release of the names is in the Southern
Baptist Convention’s best interests.
“It’s important, it is of immediate concern to the public and to the survivor committee, and we need to do it right away,” he said.
In an interview with The New York Times, Besen said that moving quickly means that some accused pastors’ names may be redacted because the claims couldn’t be substantiated by news reports and other sources, but researchers may put them back on the list as more facts are known.
“We have become too familiar with using techniques to slow processes down,” Ed Litton, president of the SBC’s Executive Committee said, according to an account in Christianity Today of the decision to release the names of “credibly accused” pastors. “We need to be very mindful that the world is watching, and they don’t need to see business as usual… we have to do this right.”
Under the “business as usual” practice, victims of sexual abuse and congregants who supported them repeatedly shared allegations of sexual abuse with top church leaders, “only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling and even outright hostility” by some Executive Committee members, according to the nearly 300-page report.
“Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse … and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC,” the report said, continuing:
“In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its policy regarding church autonomy — even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.”
Survivors of abuse, both congregants and seminary students, have long pressed the denomination to release the list of clergy “credibly accused” of sexual abuse. The list was maintained for about a decade by an Executive Committee staff member who turned it over to the Executive Committee’s former vice president and general counsel.
The investigator found no indication that anyone “took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches.”