April 2, 2019
By Robert Downen
Texas Catholic leaders have joined Southern Baptists in their support of a bill that would allow churches to share former employees’ sexual abuse and misconduct allegations without being sued.
The bill, filed last month in the Texas Legislature by Southern Baptist minister and McKinney Rep. Scott Sanford, comes as Catholics and Southern Baptists — the nation’s two largest faith groups — wrestle with sexual abuse crises.
Sanford said the legislation would help prevent sexual predators from moving into unsuspecting churches, an issue that was detailed in “Abuse of Faith,” a recent investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News that found at least 700 victims of sexual abuse or misconduct by Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers since 1998.
In some of those cases, the newspapers found, churches did not alert other congregations about allegations against former employees out of fear of lawsuits. The Texas bill would give immunity to those who make such disclosures in “good faith.”
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