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Southern Baptists Convention sex abuse scandal prompts federal investigation

The news comes more than two months after the SBC released a previously secret list of hundreds of pastors and other personnel accused of sexual abuse.

HOUSTON — The Department of Justice is investigating the Southern Baptist Convention and its handling of a widespread sexual abuse scandal, the group confirmed Friday. 

In May, the SBC released a previously secret list of hundreds of pastors and other church-affiliated personnel accused of sexual abuse. The move came in response to an explosive investigation into abuse within the church and the way it had been handled.

The 205-page database includes more than 700 entries from cases that largely span from 2000 to 2019, the Associated Press reported.

"While we continue to grieve and lament past mistakes related to sexual abuse, current leaders across the SBC have demonstrated a firm conviction to address those issues of past and are implementing measures to ensure they are never repeated in the future," the SBC said in a press release. 

They said the DOJ investigation will include multiple SBC entities.

 Earlier this week, the group came under fire after announcing members of its Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force, which was formed in response to the investigation. The chairman, vice-chairman, and all but two of its appointed members are men. 

SBC President Bart Barber said he tried to recruit more women but was repeatedly turned down, according to Baptistnews.com.

The group elected the Texas pastor as its new president in June, the Texas Tribune reported. Barber is pastor of First Baptist Church in rural Farmersville, northeast of Dallas.

“Every place where we have wronged someone in abuse,” Barber said at the time, “is a place where we have betrayed doctrine, where we have betrayed Scripture, where we have betrayed our Lord.”

Since news of the scandal broke, the group has also created a database where sexual abuse can be reported.

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