Thursday, September 24, 2015

Child sexual abuse lawsuit filed against TX pastor Billy Bob Burge and First Baptist Church of Rockwall after victim's abuse leads to suicide


DALLASSept. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Carla Sweet and Ed Gomez of Dallas, Texas, filed suit today in Dallas, Texas, state court against First Baptist Church of Rockwall: seeking justice for their son, John "Jeremy" Sweet-Gomez, who was repeatedly sexually abused by a Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church of Rockwall.
The suit alleges that a Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church of Rockwall began sexually abusing Jeremy when he was approximately thirteen years old. The abuse included sodomy, oral sex, and inappropriate sexual touching. The suit states that the sexual abuses and assaults occurred "on church property and during church-sponsored religious trips." Jeremy suffered repeated sexual abuse as a teenager; he later committed suicide. 

SNAP responds:

The lawsuit alleges that “Defendants entered into a civil conspiracy, accompanied by a meeting of the minds regarding concerted actions, the purposes of which were to conceal and minimize public knowledge of sexual misconduct and/or abuse by Pastor Burge. This conspiracy and concerted action was carried out by Defendants to conceal the fact that they individually and collectively committed acts of neglect, gross neglect, concealment, fraud, and breached fiduciary duties. Officials and agents or representatives of First Baptist Church of Rockwall, acting in concert, engaged in this conspiracy to avoid prosecution, to cover up sexual misconduct and abuse, and to conceal claims arising from crimes or conduct of their Youth Pastor.”
We urge officials at First Baptist Church of Rockwall to come clean with any information and to immediately report any known or suspected abuse by Billy Bob Burge to law enforcement. We hope that any other churches or places where Burge has had access to kids, including his current church employer Grace Community Church in Greenville, Texas, will aggressively reach out to anyone else that may have been harmed by Burge and urge them to call police.
We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered pastor Burge’s alleged child sex crimes to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Yesterday I was notified that Billy Bob Burge was listed as the athletic trainer at Greenville Christian School.  I took a screenshot today on the school website that lists Burge as a trainer for the football team.

As of 2 pm today, Billy Bob Burge's name no longer appears on the link to the football staff, after I responded in an email to the Greenville Christian School administrator that Billy Bob Burge's name was listed as the trainer for the football team.

Below is an email exchange with Greenville Christian School administrator Steve Bowers:

Thu 9/24/2015 11:53 AM

Mrs. Smith,

Billy Bob Burge has never been “on staff” at Greenville Christian School, he has volunteered on and off helping with our football team.  He is no longer a volunteer ball boy / water boy with our football team at Greenville Christian School.  Most definitely, we are currently putting a plan in place to notify parents of the situation so they can take proper action.

Sincerely,

Steve Bowers

From: Watchkeepamy [mailto:watchkeepamy@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2015 10:59 AM
To: Steve Bowers
Subject: Re: Billy Bob Burge

Will he be remaining on staff at your school? Will you be notifying parents and urging anyone else that may have been or being abused by him to call police? We are concerned there may be more kids at risk. I've heard from a concerned parent today who described a pattern of red flag behavior by Billy Bob. 

On Sep 23, 2015, at 6:05 PM, Steve Bowers <steve.bowers@greenvillechristian.org> wrote:
Yes - we were just made aware of it.

Steve

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 23, 2015, at 5:26 PM, Watchkeepamy <watchkeepamy@gmail.com> wrote:
Are you aware of this?



Amy Smith 

Yesterday morning I tweeted to Steve Lawson, Founding Pastor at Grace Community Church in Greenville, Texas where Billy Bob Burge is on staff as the Connection Pastor. 



He immediately blocked me on Twitter.

I received this email from Haley Lawson yesterday afternoon.







I have received a few calls from people concerned about more victims of Billy Bob Burge. One concerned parent said that we need to ask about the many sleepovers Billy Bob Burge had at his house with boys. There seems to be many red flags of predatory behavior displayed by Burge where he has had access to kids in Rockwall, Commerce and Greenville, Texas: First Baptist Rockwall, First Baptist Commerce, Commerce High School, First Baptist Church of Greenville, Grace Community Church in Greenville and Greenville Christian School. 

We urge anyone who has seen, suspected or suffered any abuse by Burge to come forward, contact police, seek justice, begin to heal and protect kids.

The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids.

How to Prepare Your Kids for the Dangers of Sexual Predators

If you are looking for a guide on how to prepare your children for the dangers of sexual predators, The Well Armored Child: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Sexual Abuse, by Joelle Casteix, might be the book for you. Casteix outlines how to take your child from being an “easy target” for sexual predators to a “hard target,” one who is not likely to experience sexual abuse. She summarizes: “The purpose of this book is to give you the tools to identify and stop the 90 percent of predators who are never arrested or convicted.”
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines sexual abuse as:
The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or the rape, and in cases of caretaker or interfamilial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.
All of these avenues of abuse can leave a lasting and devastating impact on children.
The book’s author, Joelle Casteix, writes from a perspective of a child sexual abuse victim. She includes a thorough explanation of why she is qualified to write this book and the abuse that she endured throughout her high school years. Her personal experience bleeds through to each page. She now works to advocate for and mentor other child sexual abuse victims.


Update

Burge could not be reached for comment, and Don French, business administrator at First Baptist Church of Rockwall, said “it was 25 years ago” and would not comment.
 



Friday, September 11, 2015

Reckless endangerment of children at First Baptist Church Bedford, Texas

Photo by Danielle Grobmeier of Dallas Morning News



Earlier this week, FOX4 News in Dallas broke the story locally of a Baptist minister indicted on 29 counts of rape and sodomy of a child in Alabama who is now working at a church in the Dallas area. First Baptist Church Bedford hired Charles Kyle Adcock about 8 months ago as a music minister. Pastor Steve Knott apparently was aware of Adcock's charges when he hired him. Church leaders spoke with Elizabeth Dinh of CBS11 yesterday saying that they spoke with Adcock and believe his story that he is not guilty. We know about this story now because concerned parents spoke out.


Yesterday, we held a SNAP news conference at FBC Bedford to protect kids. 


“We think it’s incredibly irresponsible and reckless to have hired him in the first place,” says Amy Smith, who works with SNAP: Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Smith say she took to twitter to blast First Baptist’s pastor for hiring Adcock, and says she was immediately blocked from the church’s feed. Smith and another supporter staged a hastily arranged protest outside the church this afternoon. And although they were outnumbered by press, she insists it doesn’t take a crowd to warn parents.
“What we know about predators is they rarely have just one victim” says Smith, “and they’re very manipulative and often will find places like churches to have a position of trust. That word ‘minister’ signals to most churchgoers that he is safe.”
...
And there are also children at Bedford’s First Baptist Church. SNAP advocates are encouraging parents to talk to their children and if they suspect any inappropriate behavior or contact, they’re asked to take those concerns to police. And by all means, says Smith, avoid church leadership.
“Sadly, many times, it’s a very typical, dangerous response– which is to protect the institution of church, and the image and reputation of the perpetrator or the pastor of the church, or the name on the building… instead of children,” says Smith, “and we say, `why take the risk?’ Why take the risk of hiring a guy who’s about to go on trial for 29 counts of rape and sodomy of a child? Why take the risk? Err on the side of caution and place the safety of kids, first.”
Yesterday afternoon, Adcock's bond was revoked and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Thursday, WHNT News 19 also learned Adcock has a new arrest warrant in Colbert County for violating the terms of his bond, for working around children.
Assistant District Attorney Angela Hulsey filed a motion to revoke Adcock’s bond stating, “the State has received information that the Defendant is employed by First Baptist Church in Bedford Texas as a Worship Pastor, which would allow him unsupervised contact with minors. This type of employment is a violation of the conditions of the Defendant’s release on bond.”
WFAA News 8 Dallas
At First Baptist in Bedford, Pastor Steve Knott hired Adcock to lead the adult choir and work with the church's audio/video equipment.
"We think it's incredibly irresponsible and reckless to have hired him in the first place," said Amy Smith with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Smith said it doesn't matter that Adcock was not directly working with children in Bedford.
"Having a position as minister automatically places him in a position of trust," she said.
The church member who spoke with News 8 said a group of members talked to the pastor after learning of Adcock's past.
He said they also had a long talk with Adcock and decided to support him. The choir director has pleaded not guilty.
Adcock was arrested in Frisco in August of 2014 on the Alabama charges. First Baptist in Bedford hired him while he was free on a $500,000 bond.
"That's very alarming," Smith said.

We hope that anyone else who has been harmed by Adcock will come forward and contact police to begin to heal and to protect others.

The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids.

I will update this post with any new information.
Update

Former Bedford minister in jail in Alabama
Judge revokes bond of former Shoals youth minister charged with sex crimes
Charles Adcock turned himself to Colbert County authorities on Monday morning and appeared in court, where Judge Hal Hughston revoked his bond.  He ruled that Adcock's new job would have put him working around children, a violation of his bond agreement. Prosecutors in Muscle Shoals requested his bond to be pulled as soon as they found out about the position.
"This is a flagrant disregard of the court's order," said Colbert County Distict Attorney Bryce Graham. "It is beyond belief."
He is now back in the Colbert County Jail, where he will await trial in January.
...
"Given what he's been accused of and indicted for,  it's incredibly irresponsible and reckless to take that risk with children's safety," stressed Amy Smith with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "He's been here long enough, he's had a chance to possibly groom other families to trust him, other children."