On this blog and Wade Burleson's blog, Christa Brown - attorney, author, and creator of the Stop Baptist Predators website - has posted a comment calling again for the establishment of a Southern Baptist sexual predator database, pointing to how it very well could have prevented Langworthy from so easily going to a sister church undetected. She makes a great point that the most common scenario would not be a church self-reporting a predator in their midst (we see that time and again), but for victims, or even lay people or staffers to come forth with credible accusations. Amy Smith should not have had to work for an entire year before Langworthy finally was exposed.
Here is Christa's comment as it appeared on this blog (link to the comment is here):
"A database of convicted, admitted and credibly accused ministers could have made a huge difference in this case. By keeping records on credibly accused ministers, Southern Baptists could assure that trained professionals -- people outside the accused minister's immediate circle of trust (and also outside the cover-uppers' circle of trust) -- will assess accusations to determine their credibility.
For example, look at what happened in this case. Amy Smith, the former Prestonwood staff member who is quoted in the WFAA report, had been trying for over a year to get someone to do something. Trying hard. That’s over a year in which still more kids were left at risk, and parents unwarned (that’s in addition to the 21 years’ worth of additional risk that Prestonwood had already allowed by its original inaction). If there had been a denominational office to which Amy could have provided her information – an office with trained professionals -- kids could have been better protected much sooner. That office could have responsibly assessed the allegations, reported on its assessment to Morrison Heights, and then kept a record if the allegations were found credible. (And if a church chose to keep a convicted, admitted or credibly accused minister in the pulpit, the SBC could conceivably choose to disfellowship.)
Such denominational review processes are common for clergy abuse allegations in other major faith groups. If Southern Baptists provided such a process (and if it were truly a safe and welcoming place staffed by trained professionals), there would likely be many more clergy abuse survivors who would bring forward reports of abuse. But as things now stand, there is nowhere within the faith community for them to turn, and most won't even attempt to go to the church of their perpetrator. Since most cases are too old for criminal prosecution, this leaves them with little recourse.
In effect, the creation of a denominational database would help to protect churches against the inaction of their sister churches because it would allow that reports could also be received from knowledgeable church staff members (i.e., people such as Amy Smith) and from abuse survivors. As things now stand, a single church that ordains a minister on minimal standards or that turns a blind eye to egregious conduct can effectively unleash a predator into the larger body of SBC churches. By implementing a denominational system of assessment and record-keeping, Southern Baptists could assure that churches have a chance to be better informed about their clergy. They could also provide a compassionate hearing within the faith community to those who have been horribly abused within the faith. And even if denominational assessments can’t put a predatory preacher in prison, they can at least assure that he will not be able to use the power and trust of his ministerial position as a weapon."
The following line was added in her comment at Wade's site:
In October 2006, there was a huge discussion of this on the BaptistLife forums, and I compiled a FAQS page based on the questions asked at that time. For those interested, it’s here."