Southern Religion

SBC predator database, for children’s sake

Southern Baptist Convention heavyweights should think of youngsters who would be spared by a database of Baptist clerical sexual predators, like the one the SBC rejected in 2008. Not, events in Alabama suggest, hypothetical youngsters. Former pastor Ralph Lee Aaron’s Victory Baptist Church transgression would have been recorded, had a well-managed database existed at that time. Rather than left to late detection by a mother, whose alertness led to Aaron’s arrest:

The investigation began last Tuesday after a mother, who had heard rumors of a previous incident involving Aaron, had a “straightforward” conversation with her son. That incident stemmed from a 2005 complaint that occurred while Aaron was serving at Andalusia’s Victory Baptist Church. No charges were filed in the 2005 complaint, which was investigated by the Covington County District Attorney’s office and the Department of Human Resources.

As a result of that conversation, the mother determined her son may have had inappropriate contact with Aaron, and she elected to contact authorities.

“Surprisingly, (the victim) was open and honest, and they discussed it at length before contacting law enforcement,” [lead sheriff’s investigator Wesley] Snodgrass said. “It was quickly identified as a substantial case.”

Aaron was arrested Oct. 21 and is being held on $24.2 million bond for more than 150 sex crimes involving child pornography and the abuse of eight- to 12-year-old victims. District Attorney Greg Gambril said the Covington County Sheriff’s Department has put together a “very strong case” and that the state will be seeking multiple life sentences.

You can see, then, that many clerical predators are not found in existing criminal sex-offender registries. Because many are never convicted of a crime. Yet they would be recorded in a well-managed denominational database of credibly-accused clergy, like the one the SBC rejected in June of 2008.

Religious sexual predators may be the worst, as we recently documented, and the continuously growing, substantially avoidable human price of inaction is high.

Christa Brown explores the issue in detail.


November 1, 2009 - Posted by | Religion, SBC | , ,

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