Pastor of a Texas Megachurch Steps Down Following Accusations of Sexual Assault

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A Texas megachurch pastor resigned after a woman said he had repeatedly sexually assaulted her starting when she was 12 years old in the 1980s.

Senior pastor and Gateway Church founder Robert Morris declared his retirement on Tuesday. The church’s board of elders accepted his resignation. To ensure they “have a complete understanding of the events” between 1982 and 1987, the board announced that it had engaged a law firm to do an independent assessment.

Robert Morris Leaves his Position as Gateway Church’s Pastor:

Following claims of improper contact between senior pastor Robert Morris and a 12-year-old last week, a megachurch in the Dallas region accepted Morris’ resignation on Tuesday.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Gateway Church Board of Elders stated that they were not fully aware of the abuse’s circumstances until June 14.

As stated in the statement, “The elders’ prior understanding was that Morris’s extramarital relationship—which he discussed numerous times throughout his ministry—was with a young lady’ and not with a child who was twelve years old.”

“As church leaders, we regret not having the information we do now, even though it happened many years before Gateway was founded.”

The elders sympathized with the victim and her family, expressing that they were “heartbroken and appalled.”

“I engaged in improper sexual conduct with a young lady in a residence where I was staying while I was in my early twenties. Even if there wasn’t sexual activity—just kissing and petting—it was improper. Over the following several years, this behavior occurred multiple times, the pastor stated in a statement.

Cindy Clemishire, the victim, told WFAA that the abuse began on Christmas Day of 1982 and persisted until 1987, at which point she informed her parents. Wartburg Watch, which monitors churches, published her story on Friday.

According to a statement sent through her lawyer, Clemishire isn’t sure how she feels about the news of Morris’ departure.

“I am disappointed that the Board of Elders allowed him to resign, even though I am grateful that he is no longer a pastor at Gateway,” she stated. “His termination was warranted.”

When Morris was a pastor at Shady Grove Church in Grand Prairie, now one of Gateway Church’s 11 sites, his actions were “brought to light” in 1987, according to WFAA.

This incident was revealed in March 1987, and admission and remorse were made. I gave myself to the young woman’s father and the Shady Grove Church Elders. They requested that I leave the ministry to get therapy and freedom ministry, and I complied. Morris said, “Since then, I have walked in purity and responsibility in this area. My wife and I visited with the survivor and her family in 1989. He added, “I asked for their forgiveness, and they graciously accepted it.”

Despite their forgiveness, Clemishire’s family never supported Morris returning to the ministry, she said WFAA.

Leaders can get overly fixated on the idea that protecting God is our duty, but this isn’t the case. The people’s protection is our duty, she continued. “God transcends all of that.”

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