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Megahurch of child-molesting Trump pastor settles case alleging sex abuse cover-ups

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Gateway Church — an evangelical megachurch in Southlake, Texas — has reached a legal settlement in a case that accused five church pastors and a youth leader of covering up a child sexual assault committed by another church member. The pastors allegedly didn’t report the assault to the police or the child’s mother; delayed an investigation into the incident; and punished the victim and her mother, who were both devoted church members.

The settlement follows the recent resignation of Robert Morris, the church’s founder and a member of former President Donald Trump’s evangelical executive advisory board. Morris resigned shortly after publicly admitting to molesting a 12-year-old girl when he was a 20-year-old pastor.

The recently settled lawsuit was filed in August 2020 by an unnamed mother on behalf of her daughter. The two frequently attended worship services and church-sponsored functions and also participated in various ministries, The Christian Post reported. Then, around March 14, 2018, an unnamed church member allegedly sexually assaulted the daughter at the member’s residence.

Church youth leader Logan Edwards reportedly learned of the assault after talking with the alleged assaulter and two other young church members, the lawsuit stated. Five church pastors — Kelly Jones, Rebecca Wilson, Samantha Golden, Mondo Davis, and Sion Alford — reportedly took no legal action after learning of the assault, though they reportedly spoke several times with the accused member and their parents, the lawsuit alleged.

“None filed a formal complaint with the necessary child protective agencies, law enforcement agencies, or even alerted … [the victim’s] mother, to the existence of the alleged assault,” the lawsuit said. When the mother learned of the assault, she reported it to the Haltom City Police Department.

The pastors then “embarked on a concerted campaign to conceal, misconstrue, and discredit the assault accusations” during the police investiagation, the lawsuit added. “Due to the weeks of active concealment by defendants, significant evidence of the alleged criminal assault was allowed to waste and degrade, further hindering law enforcement’s ability to accurately investigate the original assault.”

Church leaders also allegedly “encouraged other members of Gateway to ostracize [the minor’s mother] … and had her removed from the various ministries of which she had served dutifully,” the lawsuit continued. As a result, the mother and daughter reportedly “endure[d] immense shame and embarrassment, and emotional distress.”

Though the lawsuit sought between $200,000 and $5,000,000 in damages, the church settled for an undisclosed sum on April 18. The church admitted no liability and only settled the lawsuit to “buy peace,” the church said in a public statement.

In the past, the church also reportedly settled a 2016 lawsuit in which church leaders allegedly destroyed video footage showing one boy sexually assaulting another in the church’s child care program, WFAA reported.

Last month, the church’s founder, Robert Morris admitted to molesting a 12-year-old girl on Christmas night 1982 while staying with her family when he was 20 years old. Morris, who was married with a young son of his own at the time of the molestation, is now 62 years old. He resigned shortly after his admission made national headlines.

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