I noticed earlier this month that Tiffany Croft posted on her blog the soon release of Darrell Gilyard, former pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. The Florida Department of Corrections website lists Gilyard's current release date as "12/28/11".
Gilyard plead guilty in 2009 of molesting a 15-year old girl whose parents brought her to him for pastoral counseling, and he plead guilty of sending a lewd text message to another teenager. He was sentenced to three years of prison, and for life will be registered as a sexual predator.
Sad thing is, there was ample warning of Gilyard's predatory sexual appetite long before this molestation in Jacksonville occurred, but church leaders failed to take appropriate actions to warn unsuspecting church members who would never imagined that their "man of God" was a man who used his position as pastor over and over to have sex with women in his churches for years.
This entire saga of Darrell Gilyard, dating back to the 1980's, is a case study on how blogs are necessary to alert people of what is going on in churches, even how blogs can be used to bring justice to men like Darrell Gilyard. And now we will hopefully see blogs keep alerting people to the dangers of Gilyard once he is out of prison.
The Gilyard saga is also a clear example of how church leaders, even denominational leaders and seminary leaders cannot be trusted to do the right thing when allegations arise against "men of God" pastors.
Consider the following recap of events about Darrell Gilyard:
- Gilyard came to the Southern Baptist scene way back in the 1980s at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. Gilyard was mentored by Jerry Vines and Gilyard preached multiple times at FBC Jax, telling his phony story of growing up homeless and living under a bridge. It was all a made-up story, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle back in 1991. Yes, a new preacher brought into the limelight at FBC Jax by Jerry Vines with a phony story about his past - sound familiar?
- Gilyard had a history of sexual misconduct (to put it mildly) in Texas in the 1980s and 1990s. Gilyard attended Criswell College where Paige Patterson was president at the time, and multiple women reported Gilyard's abuse to Paige Patterson with little effect until Gilyard himself admitted to Patterson that he committed adultery. Gilyard even tried to seduce a young member from First Baptist Church of Jacksonville in 1991 during a youth revival tour.
- Paige Patterson knew that Gilyard had confessed to having sexual relations with multiple women who had come to Gilyard for counseling. At my blog here I posted a 1991 article from the Austin American Statesman newspaper that told the entire saga. Probably one of the best articles on Gilyard's past and his relationships with Patterson and Vines is here.
- Perhaps Gilyard's first signs of being a sexual predator were the accusations made against him at Concord Missionary Baptist Church in south Dallas where Gilyard was an associate pastor during his time at Criswell College. Read this Dallas Morning News article about these allegations, and how Paige Patterson did not believe the accusations made against Gilyard by 25 women - some of which were allegations of rape and sexual assault. Tiffany Croft has an article on this where she posted the story of a student who was at Criswell at the time.
- After Gilyard left Concord he became pastor at Victory Baptist Church in Texas. After Gilyard resigned in disgrace from Victory Baptist Church in 1991 over his sexual relations with women in the church, unbelievably, Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church - located about a mile from FBC Jacksonville - hired Gilyard to be their pastor in 1993! Members had no idea their new pastor was a sexual deviant who used his position as pastor and counselor to have sex with women. Did Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines do anything to alert the church members of Gilyard's past, or was it all just "under the blood"? We don't know, they won't say - but it seems to me that prominent men like Vines and Patterson had it within their power to speak publicly of the prior misconduct of Gilyard in Texas.
- There was one bright spot in the Gilyard saga: a local Jacksonville pastor by the name of George Harvey, Jr. DID try to alert Shiloh deacons and members of Gilyard's past. All it got him was the deacons calling him nuts, and a meeting with the State Attorney's office and two Shiloh deacons to get him to stop his efforts. So no one can say that Shiloh's leadership was not alerted about Gilyard's past - but they chose to look the other way because Gilyard was such a talented orator and he could bring members and money to the church. Apparently no safeguards were put in place to prevent Gilyard's access to women in the church.
- As reported by the Times Union, Shiloh Baptist settled a lawsuit in 1996 over allegations of sexual misconduct, and then in 2004 they settled yet another lawsuit over allegations of rape during a counseling session. Still, it seems as though church members were not warned of Gilyard's sexual deviancy.
- Gilyard grew Shiloh Baptist. They built a new worship center. He was bringing in the bacon for sure at Shiloh. I was always amazed to see Gilyard on local TV during his Shiloh years, as I had heard of some of the allegations against Gilyard in Texas. I assumed that people in Jax knew, and that certainly his church members must have known. He was one talented preacher, as we were members at FBC Jax in the late 1980s when he emerged on the scene. His preaching style nearly matched Jerry Vines', in fact Gilyard himself and Vines had joked that Gilyard was the "black version of Jerry Vines."
- Jerry Vines retired from FBC Jax in February 2006, and it didn't take long for Vines to visit Shiloh and preach in Gilyard's pulpit despite his knowledge of Gilyard's past. Apparently Vines bought Gilyard's story that he had been healed of his sexual problems.
- Then, in December 2007 the latest allegations that sent Gilyard to prison surfaced. Tiffany Croft, who was the teenager at FBC Jax who Gilyard tried to seduce in 1991, started her blog focusing on Gilyard to help and encourage Gilyard's victims to come forward. Her blog was a source of tips for the State Attorney's office during their investigation, and they very much appreciated her blog.
- I blogged about the Gilyard story in December 2007 right after the initial allegations surfaced, posting several old news articles from the early 1990's asking the question "You're Telling Me Nobody Knew?". I was honestly surprised that people in Jacksonville did not know of Gilyard's past, not even the reporters who first reported the allegations. Times Union reporter Jim Schoettler emailed me at the Watchdog account about the source of these articles that I posted.
- Strangely enough there is even an element of this story crossing over into the FBC Jax Watchdog controversy of the past few years. In early April 2009 I discovered that FBC Jax deacon and discipline committee member, and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective Robert Hinson pulled subpoenas on my blog, Tiffany's blog, and the Bellevue Baptist blog during his "investigation" to find my identity. Hinson's testimony was that he pulled the subpoena on my blog and two that were hyperlinked on my site - of which there were 20 or so - quite interesting that the three blogs of many that he subpoenaed were three that were critical of prominent Baptist pastors. Hinson subpoenaed Tiffany's information from Google, but in his deposition he said he realized he made a mistake in subpoenaing her blog after he realized after-the-fact that Tiffany was the daughter of a long-time member at FBC Jax. But he said the subpoena was already sent, and that he destroyed all of her information received from Google upon receipt.
So now Gilyard will be getting out of jail. He will be a registered sex offender for life, and will be on three years of sex offender probation. He will not be allowed to live within 1000 feet or work at a school, or any other location that children regularly gather. He will not be able to have unsupervised contact with any children, and will be subject to electronic monitoring.
Let's hope that finally the legal system will have done what Baptist leaders could not or would not do: keep Darrell Gilyard away from women and children. Let's hope that this blog, Tiffany Croft's blog, and other blogs, along with the Florida Sex Offender database will warn people of the dangers of Darrell Gilyard. It would not be surprising to see him in a pulpit preaching very soon.
And let's hope the next time that a Darrell Gilyard or Bob Gray surfaces in Jacksonville, blogs will be used to spread the word even when the church leaders try to cover it up.