One of America’s largest Christian denominations has released a secret list of names of pastors and workers accused of abusing kids over decades.
According to an investigative report, senior Southern Baptist Church leaders allowed those people to keep working, despite credible accusations against them.
Christa Brown survived the abuse and says she knew one day stories about the Southern Baptists would come to light.
Brown says her pastor in Texas, Tommy Gilmore, assaulted her more than 30 times.
When Brown says she reported Gilmore, the church told her she needed satan cast from her body.
“I set out to try to do something about it, and located them and realized he was still in ministry,” Brown recalled. “I notified 18 Southern Baptist leaders in four states, including Florida, also Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee, and not a one of those men did a thing.”
Pastor Tommy Gilmore's name is expected to be one of hundreds released by Southern Baptists as soon as tonight. Each will have credible accusations of sex abuse against them. For survivors, it's expected to correct decades of wrongs.
Gilmore's accuser speaks on @WFTV at 11. pic.twitter.com/r9OdTIKvSg
— Nick Papantonis WFTV (@NPapantonisWFTV) May 27, 2022
30 years later, Gilmore was working as a children’s minister at the First Baptist Church of Oviedo, now Crosslife Church.
Gilmore was never criminally charged, but his name was among the 703 that the Southern Baptists publicized Thursday with more than 250 congregations scattered around Central Florida.
“It’s really important that we believe survivors, that we don’t victim blame them when they share their story,” Emilie Mitchell of the Orlando Victim Service Center said. “It’s incredibly brave of them to come forward.”
Brown eventually sued the church and was given a written apology confirming Gilmore’s guilt.
She says she hopes it inspires further reform and empowers other survivors.
“This is what many survivors have been saying for many years, and it is a hard truth. I get that,” Mitchell said. “But it’s a truth that must be reckoned with.”