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Was Ruben A. Garcia Named in the Southern Baptist Convention List of Abusers?

In 2018, Ruben A. Garcia, an associate pastor and youth pastor at Betania Baptist Church in Austin, TX, pleaded guilty to enticing a child with the intent to commit a felony. He was initially charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of indecency with a child through sexual contact. He was sentenced to ten years of deferred adjudication, which is a form of probation. Garcia was not required to register as a sex offender as part of the plea agreement, but he was prohibited from being near children without supervision, except for his grandchildren. According to the Houston Chronicle, he was the church’s music minister as of 2019.

Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Helpline

SBC Investigation Report

According to the Washington Post, a 300-page report was released on Sunday, May 22, 2022. The report includes horrifying new details relating to certain abuse occurrences and clarify how denominational authorities actively opposed abuse avoidance and change for several years.

Southern Baptist Convention leaders have announced an extensive and independent 3rd party investigation that uncovered that abusers were typically neglected, forgotten, and even blamed by high-level church representatives from within this religious denomination of larger than 16 million members. Additionally, it revealed these leaders typically deceived their own members to avoid them from being aware of the rampant sexual misbehavior.

Read more on the SBC Investigation Report

A Past of Dismissed Mishandling

Almost all of these reported occurrences fell outside of the statute of limitations, making it unclear how many predators were really charged. According to the report, a secret list was kept.

The report alleges that a key “SBC” leader was credibly accused of sexual assault just 1 month after finishing his two-year term as the convention’s president. Additionally, Johnny Hunt, a widely known Georgia Southern Baptist preacher and senior vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s missions arm, was credibly implicated of assaulting a lady during a 2010 vacation in Panama City Beach, FL. The North American Mission Board president declared he was uninformed of the accusations prior to Hunt resigning on May thirteenth. The report additionally identifies three previous presidents of the convention, a previous vice president, and the previous head of the SBC’s administrative arm as prominent SBC leaders who helped in covering and even encouraged suspected abusers.

One victim talked about being treated with hostility as she alleged she was sexually assaulted by a youth pastor. The accused pastor served in multiple Southern Baptist churches in numerous states. During a meeting with the SBC leaders in 2007, a member of the Executive Board “turned his back to her during her speech and another chortled.”

Accountability in the Southern Baptist Church

Russell Moore, the previous head of the SBC’s policy arm, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, mentioned ‘this is not all Southern Baptists, look at all the good we do.’ The bombshell report demonstrates a trend of stonewalling, intimidation, coverup, and retaliation.” He hopes this report will deliver much-needed change and hold those accountable for their actions.

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