ERLC Attorney Harassing SBC Sex Abuse Victims

In a move of gross incompetence and insensitivity, an attorney for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) is contacting victims of sex abuse from within the SBC.

This is an inappropriate, intimidating practice according to ‘survivor blog,’ Wartburg Watch.

As Dee Parsons explained in the article Another SBC/ERLC Dopey Move: Their Attorney Appears to Be Reaching Out to Victims Who Have Reported Abuse, reaching out to abuse victims without solicitation via attorneys is a practice of the Roman Catholic Church and is often a move to protect the institution and cover them from potential litigation and is rarely a move done in the best interest of the abuse victims.

Parsons correctly summarizes the ERLC’s recent push for victim care, explaining, “The ERLC, which hosted the Caring Well Initiative, is for all intents and purposes just one more arm of the SBC from which they derive money. They are now on an ill-advised fundraising kick, using victims to ask for money to be donated for some sort of ill-defined purpose within the ERLC.”

However, according to Parsons, the ERLC is using an attorney named Palmer Williams to “reach out to” abuse victims in a way that is unsettling for them.

An abuse victim, Christa Brown, recalls her experience with the attorney.

She said, “Last March, ERLC attorney Palmer Williams contacted me, wanting to set up a 2 on 1 phone call with her and Philip Bethancourt to talk with me about “your experience.” I responded that I thought it was a misstep to say “hello” via attorney to an SBC survivor and that this misstep illustrated why they needed a “safe place” office with trauma trained professionals. I also said the 2 on 1 set-up was off-putting. 

Reportedly, Brown rebuffed their invitation with a request to speak to them alongside Baptist News Global journalist, Bob Allen. They rejected her invitation to speak with Allen present, even though he promised their words would not be used for attribution.

Brown responded to them, “No matter how well-intentioned you and Philip Bethancourt may be as individuals, I find it concerning that the ERLC would choose to initiate communication with an SBC abuse survivor via someone who identifies as legal counsel for an SBC entity. From the get-go, saying “hello” via attorney does not strike me as a method that would put many survivors at ease. I also find the immediate attempt to set it up as a 2-on-1 conversation to be off-putting, which is a concern I’ve heard from other survivors as well.

According to Wartburg, other abuse victims are being approached by the ERLC attorney. From all vantage points, this is a concern for victims and a form of intimidation rather than care.

Don’t trust the ERLC. The survivor blogs are right on this one.

[Editor’s Note: HT Wartburg Watch]