GREENWOOD, Mo. (ABP) — A Baptist music minister convicted of molesting children at three churches since 1998 sits in a Kentucky prison May 4 while police continue to investigate what his supervisor, a senior pastor in Missouri, knew about the abuse.
Police started an investigation in July 2005 against Shawn Davies, 33, the music pastor at First Baptist Church in Greenwood, Mo., after a young boy came forward with charges of sexual molestation. Now, while Davies sits convicted on counts of statutory sodomy, sex with a minor and sexual abuse, police continue to investigate senior pastor Mike Roy, whom they say allowed Davies to work around children at the church four months after they notified Roy of the investigation.
Roy had planned to run for state representative in Missouri's 47th district but reportedly has cancelled those plans.
Davies went to prison last December, but KCTV-5, the local CBS affiliate, uncovered more evidence May 1 leading authorities to believe that Davies abused at least two more boys at Greenwood Baptist before Roy fired him.
All told, seven boys at Greenwood were victimized, police detective Robert Leslie told reporters. Davies' prior conviction included victims from three different churches before Greenwood.
“When a person takes their child to a church, they would expect their child to be protected there,” Leslie said in a broadcast interview about the ongoing case. “No one would ever suspect a predator being in their midst. And this is what occurred.”
Roy hired Davies to lead music at the 165-year-old Greenwood church in 2003, but their relationship goes back further. The two met in 1998 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where they attended together for three years. Roy, who has a son and two daughters of his own, received a master of theology degree from Southern and was a pastor in three other churches in Missouri and Kentucky.
David Clippard, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, said the state convention has no “blanket policy” on dealing with investigations like the one in Greenwood, although it does all it can to help churches run extensive background checks for all employees, especially those working with children.
“We have equipped our churches with the tools and the forms and the questions,” Clippard told Associated Baptist Press. “We have gone to great lengths to provide our churches with information on how to do background checks.”
Ultimately, however, the individual church is accountable for its hiring policies.
“This is a sad case,” Clippard said.
Roy did not return phone calls from an Associated Baptist Press reporter, and a church representative declined to comment on the situation.
According to Leslie, police have faced setbacks in their nine-month investigation because of Roy's unwillingness to cooperate.
“This is quite a large case,” Leslie told reporters. “We're looking at some of these victims being victimized numerous times. I would really like some information from [Roy] in regard to this incident.”
Despite the resistance, detectives provided more than 1,200 pages of evidence for the state prosecutor to use against Davies. They also obtained a warrant to search the church for evidence.
According to KCTV-5, some of the victims' families still attend First Baptist of Greenwood, and at least one family is considering filing a civil suit.