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GOP candidate accused of supplying young men for disgraced Baptist leader Paul Pressler to abuse

GOP candidate for Texas House Jared Woodfill
Photo: Jared Woodfill for Texas

A recently unearthed email from 2017 is shedding new light on the role a prominent lawyer running for the Texas State House played in the ongoing Southern Baptist sexual abuse scandal.

The explosive email accuses attorney Jared Woodfill (R) – a prominent anti-LGBTQ+ activist running with the close backing of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) – of providing access to young men for former Texas judge and Southern Baptist leader Paul Pressler to sexually abuse.

The email, from one of the young men recruited by Woodfill’s law firm to serve as a personal assistant to the then-octogenarian Pressler, was filed in connection with the massive lawsuit accusing Pressler of years of sexual abuse of young men and boys.

The suit named the Southern Baptist Convention, Pressler’s longtime church First Baptist in Houston, and Woodfill as co-conspirators.

The years-long lawsuit filed by Duane Rollins, a former member of Pressler’s church youth group, attracted six more victims over the years as it wound its way through Harris County district court. It was settled late last year for an undisclosed amount not long after the personal aide’s email was filed.

Pressler, 93, has not been criminally charged.

“There is a serious issue at hand,” the unnamed aide wrote in the email, adding that Pressler had recently touched him and bragged about being naked with young boys. “I do not think Paul should be around small children or have male assistance of any kind.”

The young man resigned as Pressler’s personal aide and asked that Woodfill stop paying him immediately.

“My conscience dictates that I step away,” he wrote of working for Pressler in his Houston mansion. “Please take me off the payroll. If I am to continue receiving paychecks from Woodfill in the continuing weeks, I will send them back.”

In March, The Texas Tribune reported that Woodfill had recently testified he was aware of claims of child sexual abuse brought against Pressler in 2004, when he and the church leader were law partners. Yet Woodfill continued to supply Pressler with potential victims.

The email details a litany of episodes illustrating Pressler’s obsession with young men and boys and sex.

“He talks way more about nudity, the male body, being naked in spas in Europe, being naked in general than God, or his Baptist background,” the aide wrote.

“For as long as I can tell, Paul has fostered inappropriately close relationships to the young men who work for him,” he wrote. “I have both heard stories of and personally witnessed Paul getting young men who work for him to give him full-body massages, with all present parties in the nude. Especially recently, a young man’s willingness to perform this act seems to be the main reason he hires them.”

The aide also described Pressler bragging about being in a hot tub naked with three boys under the age of 10 and their dad.

“After bragging about this hot tub experience, Paul told me, ‘You seriously need to get over your phobia of taking off your clothes with me,’” the aide wrote.

The day before the aide sent the email, he wrote he was repeatedly caressed by Pressler, who told him, “’I really need this.’”

That incident coincided with Pressler taking advantage of a 20-year-old young man who had called Pressler for help, the aide wrote, saying that over dinner, during which Pressler repeatedly kissed his guest, he offered him $100 for a massage, during which both men would be naked. 

When they emerged from a locked room, the aide recounted Pressler told the young man, “Next time I’ll massage you when you massage me.”  

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