SBC Executive Committee Delays Decision on Waiving Attorney-Client Privilege in Sex Abuse Investigation
The Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee has delayed a decision to waive attorney-client privilege in an investigation into alleged sexual abuse within the SBC.
According to The Christian Post, the committee decided in a virtual meeting on Tuesday that they would consider the decision for another week. At issue is whether Guidepost, the firm investigating the committee's handling of sexual abuse claims within SBC churches, should be allowed to review materials between the executive committee and its attorney.
The executive committee voted 51-15 to take another week on the decision.
"We pray Southern Baptists will see this grueling and deliberative process as necessary, and in accordance with the Convention's bylaws, as the Board of Trustees, Task Force and Executive Committee leadership all work diligently, prayerfully and as expeditiously as possible to do the right thing in the right way," a statement from the committee said. "We are all in this together."
Just over a week ago, the committee approved up to $1.6 million for Guidepost's investigation.
Members of the task force and members of the executive committee had previously met in a private session to discuss the issue, but task force chairman Bruce Frank said he was "disappointed" in the discussions.
"We are disappointed that the majority of the officers still will not follow the will of the messengers and waive privilege," he said. "The Task Force believes this is still the best route to take both morally and legally."
The investigation came after a 2019 Houston Chronicle report showed hundreds of abuse cases in Southern Baptist churches over decades.
In June, the SBC voted to create a task force to oversee a third-party investigation of allegations that the SBC Executive Committee may have mishandled the "crisis of sexual abuse."
Former SBC President J.D. Greear said on Twitter that he was "confused and disappointed" that the executive committee has not agreed to allow investigators to access those documents.
"From where I stood when the vote was taken, the will of the messengers was clear – They wanted a fully independent, fully transparent investigation," he tweeted.
"Furthermore, survivors deserve a clear and honest account," he added.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.