By Bob Allen
A former Southern Baptist youth pastor sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors criticized his victims for not forgiving him.
“If they are unwilling to forgive, then God can’t forgive them,” Mack Allen Davis, 74, former youth minister at Lakeside Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., said in court May 15, according to the Birmingham News. “That’s in the Bible.”
Davis, charged with 15 counts of child sexual abuse in three Alabama counties, pleaded guilty in December to six counts in Jefferson County Court in Birmingham. He was arrested after two adults came forward claiming Davis molested them 30 years ago.
The two men claimed the abuse occurred multiple times over a decade from the late 1970s through the late 1980s. They said they were abused in multiple locations, including Davis’ church office, Shocco Springs Baptist Camp in Talladega, Ala., and Ridgecrest Baptist Conference Center in North Carolina.
Davis was hired in 1977 by Lakeside Baptist Church as minister of youth and recreation and the following summer named director of the church’s summer camp. He retired in 1999 at age 59.
One of the alleged victims claimed the pastor at the time knew about the abuse but kept it quiet to protect the church’s reputation. The pastor, Mike McLemore, who went on to become executive director of the Birmingham Baptist Association, denied wrongdoing, and an investigation by the association’s executive committee found no “information to support the charge that Dr. McLemore knowingly protected a pedophile during his tenure as pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church.”
According to the Birmingham News, one of the victims testified in court that he forgave Davis, but it is time for him to be held accountable for his crimes.
Davis told Judge Teresa Pulliam he and the victim had met and prayed together. “I thought everything was okay, and a few days later I was arrested,” he said.
Davis said God has already forgiven him. “I’m definitely not the person I was 30 years ago,” he said. “God picked me up, cleaned me and forgave me of my sins. I believe the Bible’s true. I know it is.”
Davis said he is “concerned” about parents and victims who are unwilling to do the same.
“That’s terrible, to go so many years without being forgiven,” Davis said. “That’s terrible.”
— With reporting by Greg Garrison of the Birmingham News.