Aug. 2005 (continued) After the meeting, attorney Stephen Wakefield sends a proposed settlement agreement, which purports to offer counseling costs but conditions it on a complete confidentiality agreement. I am very offended. (In 2002, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference adopted an express policy against seeking confidentiality agreements from persons reporting child sexual abuse. Yet, the attorney for the largest state-wide Baptist organization in the country is obviously still using confidentiality agreements to keep clergy abuse reports secret and out of the public light.) I am heartbroken. I feel as though I opened this dreadful wound and bled all over the table in front of these people, foolishly thinking I might educate them, and all for naught. They have responded with oblivion and insult by trying to get my signature on a contract for secrecy. Victims are often in desperate need of counseling. When church leaders exploit that vulnerability to extract secrecy agreements, they perpetuate an institutional culture of secrecy that enables sexual abuse and that allows predators to remain hidden.
Sept. 2005 I contact reporter Mark Pinsky in Florida.
Based on music minister James A. Moore’s signing of a sworn affidavit, repeating under oath his statements about his knowledge of the abuse, and in exchange for his agreement to testify, we nonsuit the claims against him. Moore’s affidavit makes apparent that Moore actually knew about the abuse even before I broke down crying at a piano lesson. Gilmore himself had previously told Moore that he was concerned a member of the congregation had seen him in a “compromising position” with me. Yet, Moore did nothing to help me, and the abuse was allowed to continue and to escalate. Only after I myself talked about it was Gilmore finally sent on his way to another church. And, even though Moore obviously knew the abuse was something bad enough that he wanted Gilmore gone from FBCFB, Moore did not prevent Gilmore from possibly abusing others at a different church, and nor did he tell my parents, and nor did he report it to the police.
I learn from documents in the lawsuit that Gilmore also spoke about it with pastor Glenn Hayden. So, still another Southern Baptist leader had some knowledge of the abuse and yet did not report it to the police and instead allowed Gilmore to move on.
Gilmore’s sworn discovery responses are evasive. When under oath (and subject to the penalty of perjury), he does not deny having had sexual contact with me as a minor but instead makes an objection to the definition of “sexual contact.” This seems like pure gamesmanship, but it is expensive gamesmanship. In order to obtain even the most basic of answers, I will have to incur the additional expense of court hearings to judicially compel answers.
Oct. 2005 Gilmore files a court document arguing that a minister has no fiduciary duty of trust toward members of the congregation. (When a Baptist minister contends that he doesn’t occupy a position of trust ...then people should stop trusting him.)
An article about the lawsuit is printed in the Orlando Sentinel, and Gilmore finally resigns from his ministerial position in Florida. The fact and timing of his resignation is reported in the article.
Were Baptist leaders more concerned about negative publicity than about protecting kids? If it takes publicizing a lawsuit to get a Southern Baptist minister removed, then most clergy predators will easily remain hidden and kids will remain at risk.
Nov. 2005 Conversations with Gilmore’s attorney make apparent that, because I put a criminal complaint on file, Gilmore will likely take the Fifth in any deposition in the civil suit - i.e., he will refuse to answer on the ground that it may incriminate him - even though there is no genuine possibility of any actual prosecution on the criminal complaint because of limitations. More gamesmanship. I nonsuit the civil suit as to Gilmore individually, while retaining the potential right to refile against him in the future. The suit continues against FBCFB based on the conduct of Gilmore and Moore as the church's employees.
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