Megachurch Leader Admits Sex Abuse, Resigns

Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Texas says it occurred decades ago; the girl was 12
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 19, 2024 7:47 AM CDT
Megachurch Pastor Resigns After Admitting Abuse of Girl
Pastor Robert Morris applauds during a roundtable discussion at Gateway Church Dallas Campus, Thursday, June 11, 2020, in Dallas.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The pastor of a Texas megachurch has resigned after a woman said he had sexually abused her on multiple occasions in the 1980s, beginning when she was 12. Gateway Church's board of elders said in a statement that they'd accepted the resignation of Robert Morris, the church's senior pastor and founder, per the AP. The board said it had hired a law firm to conduct an independent review to make sure they "have a complete understanding of the events" from 1982 to 1987.

The allegations came to light Friday on the religious watchdog blog the Wartburg Watch. Cindy Clemishire, Morris' accuser, told the Dallas Morning News in an interview Saturday that she met Morris in 1981, when he was a traveling preacher and began preaching at her family's church in Oklahoma. She said Morris and his wife and young son became close to her family. She said he was staying at her house in 1982 when he asked her to come to his room. He told her to lay on his bed and then began touching her inappropriately, said Clemishire, now 54. She said the abuse continued for about four-and-a-half years.

When asked about the allegations by the Christian Post, Morris, 62, said in a statement to the publication that when he was in his early 20s he was "involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying." He added that "it was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong" and that "this behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years." The church, based in the Dallas suburb of Southlake, was founded by Morris in 2000 and has multiple locations in the area. It says over 100,000 people attend each weekend. Morris, the founding pastor, was among those on former President Trump's evangelical advisory board.

(More megachurches stories.)

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