According to KXXV-TV News, pastor W. Frank Brown is accused of molesting girls in another state, beginning about four years ago, and then continuing assaults on a victim after moving to Texas. The girl was reportedly 9 or 10 when the abuse began. “Police say the alleged assaults took place hundreds of times.”
In connection with Brown’s arrest, the Waco Tribune-Herald interviewed Tim Randolph, the executive director of the Waco Regional Baptist Network:
So here’s my first question: Exactly what “database” is Mr. Randolph talking about?
Preventing such events in the first place would be ideal, Randolph said. Churches are encouraged to work through the Baptist General Convention of Texas to screen personnel they are considering hiring, he said. Because Baptist congregations are autonomous, they cannot be compelled to go through the BGCT when making hires, he said.
'Steps are being taken,' Randolph said. 'Churches are encouraged to report (accusations and subsequent investigations) and verify people against a database.'
Experts consistently recognize that less than 10 percent of active child molesters have ever been convicted of anything, and so they won't appear in criminal sex-offender databases. And “pastor sex-offenders… rarely have a criminal history.” So again… you aren’t likely to find them in a criminal sex-offender database.
Yet, Baptist leaders have refused to institute any sort of denominational database of credibly-accused clergy child molesters -- or to even bother with assessing the credibility of clergy abuse allegations in the way that other major faith groups do.
Given the low probability of criminal prosecution for a child molester, it is delusional and dangerous for Baptist leaders to persist in thinking they're doing enough by "encouraging" churches to screen ministerial candidates against criminal sex-offender databases. It's not nearly enough, and most other major faith groups are doing a great deal more.
And what good does Mr. Randolph imagine would have likely been accomplished if Bellmead had contacted the Baptist General Convention of Texas before hiring pastor Brown?
For all we know, the church may indeed have done so. But so what? Baptists don’t have any systematic process for keeping track of clergy abuse allegations. Instead, the safety of church kids is essentially left up to a haphazard good-ol’-boy network… and the good-ol’-boys have failed miserably.
Indeed, Mr. Randolph’s remarks seem particularly ironic and inappropriate in light of still another Waco Baptist preacher case that’s currently in the news. Also reported in the Waco Tribune-Herald, pastor Matt Baker has been charged with the murder of his wife, and the investigation wound up uncovering a trail of sexual abuse and assault allegations against him. Yet despite those allegations, Baker was able to move through numerous schools, churches, and organizations -- all affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas -- and no one stopped him. Indeed, even in his final job as a Baptist Student Union director, Baker was in a position funded by the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
So if Mr. Randolph is so convinced that the Baptist General Convention of Texas can effectively help churches screen ministerial candidates, then why can’t the BGCT effectively screen candidates for a job that the BGCT itself funds?
But back to the Bellmead story… if Mr. Randolph is suggesting that the specific problem at Bellmead could have been prevented if only the church had gone through the Baptist General Convention of Texas before hiring Brown, then you have to consider some ugly possibilities.
If that’s what Mr. Randolph is suggesting, then he’s suggesting that the Baptist General Convention of Texas does indeed have pastor W. Frank Brown’s name in its “sexual misconduct” file, and that if only the church had asked, the BGCT may have warned them.
If that’s what Mr. Randolph is suggesting, then you have to ponder the possibility that the Baptist General Convention of Texas had some prior report about Brown, and that it allowed that information to simply sit in a file because nobody specifically asked for it. Meanwhile, it’s alleged that pastor Brown continued to molest a kid hundreds of times.
A pretty shocking possibility, isn’t it?
But if that’s NOT what Mr. Randolph is suggesting, then why is he bothering to suggest that this “event” could have possibly been prevented if only the church had consulted with the Baptist General Convention of Texas? But hey… churches “cannot be compelled” he says.
This seems like a rather mean-spirited thing to say about a church that is likely hurting… particularly if contacting the BGCT wouldn’t have done them any good anyway.
So what do you think? What exactly is Mr. Randolph suggesting with his remarks?
According to his online bio, Mr. Randolph worked at the Baptist General Convention of Texas until just a few months ago. So maybe he actually does know something about what’s in the BGCT’s confidential “sexual misconduct” file -- either from his time working there or from his contacts with others in the building.
Or maybe Mr. Randolph’s remarks are nothing more than another example of how Baptist leaders are more focused on blindly promoting and praising the institution rather than on actually protecting kids.