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Willy Rice knew of NAMB’s attack on reporter covering sex abuse in SBC

Willy Rice and NAMB trustees were told in November 2019 about how NAMB PR staff threatened libel against a sex abuse survivor working as a reporter for reporting the truth that Kevin Ezell claimed clergy-penitent privilege to avoid testifying in a child molestation case.

Woke SBC foot soldiers call on Willy Rice to drop out of the SBC Presidential race.

While serving as a NAMB trustee, Willy Rice was informed that the North American Mission Board’s press assistant attempted to intimidate a reporter writing about how NAMB chief Kevin Ezell handled a sex abuse case while Ezell was pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville. The reporter was Joni Hannigan—herself a sex abuse survivor.

Rice and other NAMB trustees were warned by email that NAMB PR Director Mike Ebert threatened a sex abuse survivor with a libel lawsuit after well-known Southern Baptist reporter Joni Hannigan wrote that Ezell claimed clergy-penitent privilege to avoid testifying in a child molestation case.

The backstory to the case is horrific with reporting widely available online in the Louisville area newspaper.

According to the email sent to NAMB trustees and published online last night, “Hannigan’s 5 sentences on Ezell were buried in a some 3,000 word article on the SBC Resolution on Reporting Sexual Abuse and MeToo.  She wrote this story less than a month after publishing her own sexual abuse by a deacon of a church cooperating with the SBC.  Within 4 hours of Hannigan’s publishing the article, Ebert sent his threatening text message.”

The threatening text message is below.

What was Willy Rice’s response to this attempt to intimidate a sex abuse survivor into silence about the use of clergy-penitent privilege?

One can only guess.

Rice did not respond to the email.

And despite Rice knowing Hannigan from both being involved with Florida Baptist life, Rice did not reach out to Joni Hannigan.

Woke SBC foot soldiers call for Willy Rice to exit race for SBC President

Grant Gaines called on Willy Rice to step aside in the SBC Presidential race following Rice’s video admitting the church ordained as a deacon a man who committed a sexual sin that some believe was abusive.

Gaines said, “I think it’s imperative the next SBC president have a lot of trust from survivors and the convention as a whole regarding sexual abuse if we’re going to make the progress and reforms we need to make going forward. I really appreciate Willy sharing this video and… am glad he has led his church to take the action they have now taken. I do believe, though, that in an effort to go forward with trust, it would be best for another candidate to step in.”

Grant Gaines is now a NAMB trustee with a term expiring in 2024.

Will McRaney wondered if both Grant Gaines and Willy Rice would now speak out about how Kevin Ezell, Mike Ebert, and the North American Mission Board treated a sex abuse survivor writing about sex abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention.

McRaney said, “What will Willy Rice now do as the NAMB Trustee Vice Chairman, member since June 2018?  What will Grant Gaines do as a NAMB Trustee since June?  Will the NAMB Trustee body do their fiduciary duties for SBC and moral duty to Mrs. Hannigan to discipline Ezell and Ebert and make restitution to Mrs. Joni Hannigan?  The record is clear and documents available, so will there be justice?”

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