By Bob Allen
Five new anonymous plaintiffs have joined the three original litigants in a lawsuit alleging a cover-up of sexual abuse by a church-planting network with ties to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
New allegations in an amended lawsuit filed Jan. 11 accuse a co-founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries of physically abusing a female over a 25-year period spanning her childhood and young adulthood. The expanded complaint also describes a “pedophilia ring” on Sovereign Grace church and school premises, where perpetrators were not reported to police and went on to prey on additional children.
Sovereign Grace Ministries, which recently relocated from Maryland to Louisville in part to strengthen informal ties with Southern Seminary, responded to amendments added to a class action lawsuit originally filed Oct. 17, 2012, in Maryland’s Montgomery County Circuit Court with a statement requesting “patience as we continue to investigate these new allegations.”
“As we initially stated and continue to reiterate, SGM considers the mistreatment of any child reprehensible and evil,” Tommy Hill, director of administration for Sovereign Grace Ministries, said in the statement. “We grieve deeply for any individual who has been a victim of abuse. We want to minister the love, grace, and healing of God to every child we encounter who has suffered such horror.”
The amended lawsuit added two individual defendants to the original eight and increased the net total of charges by 28 – from 115 to 143. Material issues added to the lawsuit included the physical abuse of children, that sexual abuse occurred on church property and one victim who claimed her primary perpetrator was a pastor and teacher. A male plaintiff claimed he was sexually molested repeatedly at age 7 by the son of a church pastor, and that pastor and other church leaders did nothing to prevent the juvenile predator from harming other children.
While not Southern Baptist, Sovereign Grace Ministries shares many theological beliefs with Southern Seminary, including Reformed/Calvinist theology emphasizing God’s sovereignty and that men and women are assigned to distinct but “complementary” roles in the church and home.
Sovereign Grace President C.J. Mahaney has shared platforms with Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler at various conferences.