report details sexual abuse within mainline Protestant Church

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American evangelicals are not spared from sex scandals. An independent report sheds light on the protections enjoyed by executives of the main Protestant congregation in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention, accused of sexual abuse. And the alleged victims have been systematically silenced.

With our correspondent in Miami, David Thomson

For 20 years America’s leading evangelical force has denied the word of its victims. This is the conclusion of this report launched by the Southern Baptist Convention itself, after a vote last year at the request of survivors of sexual violence in its ranks.

Entrusted to an independent organization, the 300-page document studies a series of complaints passed over in silence since the year 2000. Complaints from women but also from children against pastors, parish employees and officials. One of them even targets a former president of the organization accused of sexual assault by a woman in 2010.

Not only have these complaints been ignored, but it is often the victims who have been singled out. In an internal email cited by the report, a convention chief goes so far as to call one such complaint ” satanic plan to turn us away from the gospels “. And all attempts at reform have been blocked, such as the creation of an internal investigation committee and a register of aggressor pastors, deemed contrary to the autonomy of the churches.

These lists consulted by the investigators contain several hundred names of alleged attackers who have never been prosecuted. According to this report at least 9 are still working in parishes today.

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