Apr. 2005 I plead with BGCT leaders Jan Daehnert and Sonny Spurger to at least set up a referral list of experienced independent counselors so that people reporting sexual abuse can be immediately referred for help rather than being allowed to sink into despair. I also ask Daehnert and Spurger if one of them would present a letter on my behalf at a business meeting of First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch. They refuse and, by email, tell me that I should direct any future requests to their attorney, Stephen Wakefield. Thus, the BGCT leaders cut off any further dialogue with me, and it becomes quite clear that Wakefield is acting as attorney for BOTH the church and the BGCT. Under all the circumstances, I think the most reasonable assumption is that the BGCT approves of Wakefield’s hardball tactics against victims.
Was the BGCT’s initial appearance of dealing with me separately from the church just a pretense? A slick sort of good cop/bad cop routine? The BGCT seems a great deal more interested in helping the church keep secrets than in helping victims or protecting other kids.
My attorney sends certified letters to leaders at the Florida Baptist Convention, the Greater Orlando Baptist Association, the First Baptist Church of Oviedo, the Georgia Baptist Convention and the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, informing them of the substantiated report about Gilmore’s sexual abuse of a minor and of the fact that the BGCT has placed Gilmore’s name into the BGCT’s file of clergy abusers. We also send a second letter to the Southern Baptist Convention. We specifically inform the SBC that Gilmore is still acting as a minister in Florida and that the BGCT placed Gilmore's name in the file of clergy abusers based on a “substantial evidence” determination or a confession.
Only the Georgia Baptist Convention even bothers to respond, but it provides no information. The other Baptist leaders don’t respond at all.
Is the lack of response from so many Baptist leaders an effort to ignore me or is it an effort to protect Gilmore? Since Gilmore remained in ministry, it certainly doesn't appear that they were working to protect other kids.
May 2005 On a Sunday morning, I place a letter to church members on cars in the parking lot at First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch. I want to make sure members of the congregation are informed before I file a lawsuit against the church.
Even though it’s too late for criminal prosecution, I place a criminal complaint on file with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office.
June 2005 I file a civil suit against Gilmore. He answers via attorney Randall Walters of Touchstone Bernays.
Did Gilmore himself pay for this high-priced Dallas lawyer or did someone else in the denomination assist with his legal costs? How did Gilmore even know who to hire in Dallas?
July 2005 I file suit against First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch and music minister James A. Moore. (With an amended petition and more extensive allegations, this lawsuit is eventually consolidated with the suit against Gilmore.)
Aug. 2005 Representatives from First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch, music minister James A. Moore, and attorney Stephen Wakefield meet with my attorney and me. (Thus, it is only AFTER I file a lawsuit that the church leadership even deigns to meet with me.) I am taken by surprise and cry upon seeing Moore, the minister who was once my piano teacher. Somehow I continue to give Moore the benefit of the doubt and think he will finally choose to help me. However, Moore and other church leaders seem to completely lack any understanding of the seriousness of the crime or the harm caused by it. It is very upsetting for me to speak of this trauma with people who seem to care so little and who lack the experience or training to make an appropriate response. I make absolutely clear that I view secrecy as the root of the problem and that I will have no part of the church’s apparent desire for secrecy.
If it takes a lawsuit to get church leaders to even sit down and talk with a victim, then most clergy perpetrators won't be disclosed.
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