Southern Baptist leaders say no need for investigation at Bedford, other churches

The Southern Baptist Convention pushed back against proposed investigations into sexual abuse at seven of its churches, including one in Bedford, in a statement Monday.

On Feb. 19, SBC President J.D. Greear named 10 churches he said must be investigated based on sexual abuse accusations. One of the churches Greear named was First Baptist in Bedford.

The church came under criticism in 2015 when it was reported former pastor Steve Knott had hired Charles Kyle Adcock, despite his pending case in Alabama, where he was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl.

In Monday’s statement, members of the SBC Executive Committee bylaws work group broke down the cases against the 10 churches, including Bedford Church, and determined only three of them warranted further investigation.

In the statement, the group said it based its decision on whether the churches:

Employed a convicted sex offender.

Allowed a convicted sex offender to work as a volunteer in contact with minors.

Continued to employ a person who concealed information regarding sexual abuse.

Willfully disregarded mandatory child abuse reporting laws.

It also took into consideration how much time had passed, whether or not the church implemented changes in policies to prevent future abuse and changes in administration, according to the statement.

Based on that criteria, the work group wrote that Bedford First Baptist does not require further scrutiny.

“We further believe this church appears to be an example of a church, affected by the actions of a few individuals, that has taken decisive steps as a congregation,” the statement said.

2015 Bedford case

In 2014, Adcock was arrested for raping and sodomizing a 14-year-old girl in Alabama. While he was released on bond in 2015, Adcock moved to Texas and started working at First Baptist in Bedford, where he was in contact with children.

The pastor at the time, Steve Knott, said he did not know about the accusations against Adcock when he hired him. However, Knott’s testimony in court contradicts this — during a bond reduction hearing for Adcock in 2015, Knott told the prosecutor he had known about some of Adcock’s charges.

Adcock was later convicted of second-degree sodomy and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

First Baptist’s current pastor, Billy Taylor, addressed Adcock’s employment at the church and Greear’s call for the church to be investigated.

“In 2015, the church membership was shocked, disgusted and angered to learn about the cases against Charles Adcock. When his background came to light, Adcock left the church, and those responsible for allowing Adcock to serve at FBC Bedford were removed from their positions shortly after his departure,” he wrote in a statement that was posted on the church website.

Taylor also wrote the church has revised policies and procedures “to help prevent such a hire in the future.”

Greear’s remarks came in the wake of an investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News that found widespread sexual misconduct allegations against Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers.

In response, Greear named the Bedford church and nine others in Texas, Georgia, Kentucky and Arkansas to be investigated.

In its statement Monday, the SBC work group said only three churches should be investigated further: the Bolivar Baptist Church in Sanger; the Cathedral of Faith Church in Houston, and the Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.