Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (and Preachers)
September 26, 2008
Dr. Randel Everett
Baptist General Convention of Texas
333 N. Washington
Dallas, TX 75246
Dear Dr. Everett:
As the new executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, we are asking you to do what your predecessors would not -- to disclose the names of ministers who have been reported to the BGCT for sexual abuse.
As you undoubtedly know, the Baptist General Convention of Texas maintains a file of ministers reported by churches for sexual abuse, including child molestation. According to the BGCT’s published policy, these are ministers who have either confessed to abuse or for whom there was “substantial evidence the abuse took place” or for whom the abuse was “confirmed” by churches.
As best we can tell, that file was begun in about 1999 or 2000, when it was described in the BGCT’s published booklet called “Broken Trust.” As recently as June 2008, Baptist Standard editor Marv Knox publicly described that file as containing the names of “proven predators.” “Undocumented accusations are not accepted” in the file, he said.
Dr. Everett, we beg you to consider the moral and practical implications and harm caused by refusing to warn people about “proven predators.” Keeping those names secret keeps kids at risk. Parents who sit in the pews of Baptist churches are entitled to know who those ministers are.
We request that you make the safety of kids the highest priority by using the media resources of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to make public the names of the ministers in that file.
We have heard Baptist officials’ oft-repeated claim that they cannot exercise any authority over local churches and so cannot remove credibly-accused child-molesting clergy from ministry in the same way that other faith groups do. However, it does not require the exercise of authority for the BGCT to provide information about ministers described as “proven predators,” ministers for whom there is “substantial evidence” of abuse, ministers who have admitted to sexual abuse, and ministers whose abuse has been reported by churches. Indeed, if it is true that Baptist officials cannot remove such men from ministry, that would be all the more reason why Baptist officials should make public their information about such men -- so that people in the pews are warned.
We also request that the BGCT provide a professionally-staffed review board to receive and assess clergy abuse reports submitted by the victims themselves. The current practice of instructing clergy abuse victims to report to the church of the perpetrator is grossly dysfunctional, fails to protect others, and inflicts still greater wounds on the victims. It is like telling the bloody sheep to go back to the den of the very wolf who savaged them.
We request that the name of Debbie Vasquez’s perpetrator be added to the BGCT’s file based on the evidence she has brought forth. As reported in several news sources, including the Denton Record-Chronicle, her perpetrator was pastor Dale “Dickie” Amyx of Bolivar Baptist Church in Sanger, Texas. Though the church refused to submit him to the BGCT’s file (as is typical), Amyx himself admitted in sworn testimony that he had sex with Debbie as a teen girl between 20 and 40 times. Debbie’s own sworn testimony provides additional evidence, along with the paternity judgment that she obtained in order to get financial support for the child that Amyx fathered.
In conclusion, these are the actions that we request: (1) Immediately post on the BGCT’s website and in the Baptist Standard the names of ministers in the sex-abuser file so that others can be warned; (2) Locate the whereabouts of the ministers in that file and inform the people in the pews of every church in which a file-listed minister has worked about the reported abuse in his past; (3) Turn over to secular authorities all names and materials in that file so that criminal investigations can at least be considered; (4) Begin receiving, assessing and archiving clergy abuse reports received from the victims themselves and not merely reports received from local church officials.
Dr. Everett, you have been described in the Baptist media as the sort of leader who doesn’t say “This needs to happen,” but who instead says “This needs to happen and let’s do it.” We are asking you to live up to this description. For the safety of kids and the sanctity of congregations, the Baptist General Convention of Texas needs to take action now.
SNAP National Director
(314) 566-9790 / SNAPclohessy@aol.com
SNAP Baptist Outreach Director
(512) 217-1730 / christa@StopBaptistPredators.org
SNAP Outreach Director
(314) 503-0003 / SNAPdorris@gmail.com