Guidepost Solutions, a radical pro-LGBTQ firm that investigated the SBC’s Executive Committee’s handling of sex abuse issues, and secular media outlets like the Houston Chronicle were informed about the SBC’s attempt to intimidate a reporter and suppress a story about how one current entity leader handled a sex abuse allegation against a church volunteer.
Guidepost Solutions was informed in multiple emails about the attempt to silence a reporter—who was also a sex abuse victim—from reporting about how Kevin Ezell claimed clergy-penitent privilege and then did not inform his church about the sex abuse allegations against a former church volunteer.
According to emails provided to the Capstone Report, Guidepost Solutions was sent the information in an email dated April 14, 2022. There was no response, so another email was sent to Guidepost on May 12, 2022. This email generated a response from Julie Meyers Wood later May 12, saying that the previous email “may have gone into my spam folder.”
Included on the string of emails reporting the issue was Rolland Slade, then chairman of the Executive Committee. Slade responded to the April 12 email on April 14, which prompted the question from Will McRaney, who originally reported the issue to Guidepost: “Ms. Wood should have received an email to her and me by Rolland Slade on April 14. Did Ms. Wood get Rolland’s email to me and her or did it too go into her Spam Folder?”
No answer to the question was included on the documents provided to the CR, and another approximately 30 people McRaney sent these documents to Thursday, July 14, 2022.
What was reported: The email to Guidepost by at least Will McRaney reported that a journalist who wrote about how Kevin Ezell handled a case of abuse when state investigators sought his cooperation to lockup a predator. Then years later, when a reporter mentioned the issue of clergy-penitent privilege in a report, an employee of NAMB who worked for Ezell threatened that reporter with libel.
A top SBC leader while a pastor in Louisville refused to testify before a grand jury investigating alleged abuse of public school children by a former principle of the church’s private school. That pastor who refused to cooperate with prosecutors was Kevin Ezell and Ezell is now head of the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
While pastor at Highview Baptist Church, Ezell claimed clergy-penitent privilege to avoid testifying as the state prosecuted and eventually convicted Bill Maggard. All the allegations reportedly were before Maggard led the school connected with Highview Baptist Church.
Maggard was convicted of 10 crimes involving the molestation of seven boys. All before his involvement with Highview.
Highview Baptist Church at the time Ezell was pastor also included other star Southern Baptist names as elders. This list included Daniel Akin, Russell Moore, Jimmy Scroggins, Thom Rainer, and Albert Mohler.
Victim advocates criticized Ezell’s handling of the situation.
Stop Baptist Predators wrote, “When prosecutors subpoenaed pastor Ezell to testify before the grand jury, Ezell invoked the clergy-penitent privilege. In other words, Ezell claimed that he couldn’t be required to testify under oath (i.e., under penalty of perjury) because he claimed that, as pastor, he was entitled to keep secret whatever Bill Maggard had told him. (Do you think Ezell used offering plate dollars to pay the attorney who made that argument? I wonder.)”
Also, Ezell told the Louisville Courier Journal that he had no intention of informing the congregation that the former church volunteer was facing abuse charges.
“Enough key facts about the NAMB President’s involvement are clear, including a threat to sexual abuse victim and respected journalist Joni Hannigan. But questions are screaming to be asked and answered about what Albert Mohler, Danny Akin, Thom Rainer, Russell Moore, and Jimmy Scroggins actually knew, when they knew it and what they did with the information that a Highview Baptist School Principal was accused and later convicted of molesting 7 boys and 10 felonies. We know what they and countless others did when the NAMB President threatened a lawsuit against Joni Hannigan for reporting on his taking clergy privilege – NOTHING publicly,” McRaney said.
Since all of this was reported previously to the SBC Executive Committee, and the Executive Committee did nothing, McRaney believed this was well within the jurisdiction of the Guidepost investigation.
Did the Houston Chronicle spike this story?
The latest email poses a serious question about how not only Guidepost but how some media outlets covered the issue of sexual abuse.
“Since GuidePost failed to report on this matter and Houston Chronicle failed to report (maybe spiked the story) on this and over 150 Baptist journalists failed to report on this and 150 Baptist leaders failed to address it, and many of the sexual abuse advocates have failed to address it, it screams for WHY NOT, and what is being covered up and why the threat against a journalist. It involves or has questions for 6 current or former SBC entity leaders,” Will McRaney wrote in an email to SBC leaders. “I have shared most recently with GuidePost that they did not include in their report and in fact, I did not even get a reply back from them until I contacted their CEO a second time just days before the release of their report.”
As McRaney alluded to, many media outlets including Baptist news organizations as well as secular newspapers were informed. This included the Houston Chronicle—and McRaney makes an interesting connection between the cozy relationship between a Chronicle reporter and an SBC “operative.”
“(The) Houston Chronicle and a few other larger news outlets have had this as well,” McRaney said. “In fact, Houston Chronicle had an interview with Joni Hannigan on a Monday late morning. I am told that the Sunday night before, a lead Chronicle reporter on the story had a dinner meeting with an SBC operative. Is that why the Chronicle did not run with the story? Did that contribute to the lead Chronicle investigator on the SBC abuse cases leaving her position at the Chronicle soon afterward?”
Of course, how did McRaney know about this meeting between a Chronicle reporter and this SBC operative?
What was discussed at the meeting?
What might the other reporter who is no longer with the Chronicle have to say about this?
These are all questions the latest bombshell prompts one to ask.