An attorney in Washington state says he resigned a position working for the longtime law partner of former Judge Paul Pressler after the co-founder of a 20th-century movement to shift the Southern Baptist Convention to the right solicited him for sexual activity.
Brooks Schott, 27, an attorney in Spokane, Wash., says in an affidavit filed April 11 in federal court that he met Houston attorney Jared Woodfill while still in law school through a religious connection set up through his father.
Schott says his father, the pastor of a non-denominational church in Spokane, met Woodfill while preaching at a church in Houston where Woodfill’s brother is pastor and discussed the possibility of his son working at the Woodfill Law Firm after graduation.
Schott says he began working for the firm in August 2016 and met Pressler, introduced by Woodfill as his mentor and “a hero of the faith.”
At a political fund-raising event that December, Schott says Pressler invited him to lunch and Woodfill encouraged him to go. During lunch, he says Pressler invited him to join him naked in a hot tub at Pressler’s ranch, clearly “in anticipation that I would engage in sexual activity with him on the pretext of a hot tub experience.”
The next day, Schott says, an office manager told him Pressler had made advances toward young men in the past and asked if Pressler invited him into his hot tub naked. Schott says there is no way the worker would ask the question if it had not happened before.
Schott said in his resignation letter in May 2017 the incident harmed his reputation in the legal community. Two different judges, he said, made comments to him alluding to the event. He said he did not know who spread the story and wondered how many other people in the legal community knew about the situation.
“You can imagine how this would make any young lawyer feel when trying to start their legal career,” Schott wrote. “Especially when I have a reputation which is associated with a religious belief system that does not condone Pressler’s inappropriate behavior.”
Schott’s affidavit comes on the heels of an earlier statement by Toby Twining, a 59-year-old musician living in New York who claims Pressler touched him inappropriately when the two men were alone in a sauna the night before Twining was to register for his sophomore year in college.
Both affidavits allege activity relevant to a lawsuit filed last year by Gareld Duane Rollins, a Houston man with both a long relationship with Pressler and a history of substance abuse leading to multiple arrests. The case file includes a psychiatrist’s report diagnosing Rollins with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered “as a direct result” of childhood sexual trauma that allegedly began when he was 14 and member of a youth Bible study led by Pressler.
Pressler has denied all allegations in the lawsuit while seeking its dismissal due to statute of limitations.
Pressler settled a previous lawsuit in 2004 by agreeing to pay Rollins $1,500 a month until Oct. 30, 2029. The new lawsuit stems from an inquiry about whether the payments will continue in the event of Pressler’s death. Pressler is 88 years old and reportedly in poor health.
The lawsuit also names individuals and institutions connected to Pressler through the “conservative resurgence” in the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s.
In a first amended complaint filed March 26 in United States District Court, Rollins’ attorney calls the inerrancy movement a “sham” purporting to care about doctrinal integrity but in reality driven by the desire for money and power.