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After 18-month Investigation, the DOJ Files No Charges Against the Southern Baptist Convention

After 18-month Investigation, the DOJ Files No Charges Against the Southern Baptist Convention

The U.S. Department of Justice has concluded a year-and-a-half-long investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention’s lead administration to determine whether officials were criminally responsible for mishandling an abuse crisis.

The DOJ has determined that no SBC leaders will be charged with criminal offenses. The decision has been met with surprise by many and disappointment from abuse survivors and their allies who were hopeful that the DOJ would be able to hold leaders from the nation’s largest Christian denomination accountable.

“Not everything that is evil sees earthly justice in the courts,” wrote Rachael Denhollander, a vocal advocate for survivors of sexual abuse in churches and Christian organizations, on X. “That’s one of the reasons Scripture commands is repeatedly to speak. To tell the truth. To bring darkness into light. We are responsible for that. No matter what.”

The DOJ first began its investigation following a report from Guidepost Solutions, a third-party firm, in May 2022 about SBC leaders’ inadequate response to the abuse crisis. According to Guideposts’s report, the SBC had a pattern of silencing and disparaging survivors of sexual abuse who begged leadership for action. SBC leadership ignored, dismissed and sometimes even attacked survivors, and refused to consider suggested policies that might protect future victims because of the financial risks.

“On February 29, 2024, counsel for the SBC Executive Committee was informed that the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York concluded its investigation into the EC (executive committee) with no further action to be taken,” said SBC Executive Committee interim president/CEO Jonathan Howe. “While we are grateful for closure on this particular matter, we recognize that sexual abuse reform efforts must continue to be implemented across the Convention. We remain steadfast in our commitment to assist churches in preventing and responding well to sexual abuse in the SBC.”

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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