A second Southern Baptist state convention in a month has been slapped with an ascending liability lawsuit over alleged child sex abuse involving an affiliated ministry.

A lawsuit filed April 5 in Tarrant County, Texas, seeks to hold the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention liable for alleged physical and/or sexual abuse and neglect of seven children placed by the state in foster care at Texas Baptist Home for Children.

Meanwhile, First Baptist Church in Terrell, Texas, filed a legal response April 11 to a lawsuit filed March 8 in Oklahoma holding the congregation, another Baptist church and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma responsible for the reported rape of a 13-year-old girl last summer at the BGCO-owned Falls Creek Conference Center.

The girl was part of a youth group from Terrell invited to share a cabin with Country Estates Baptist Church of Midwest City, Okla., for a weeklong church camp last June. While there, she met 35-year-old Benjamin Petty, an adult volunteer brought along as a cook by Country Estates Baptist Church. During the week, according to the lawsuit, Petty forcibly raped the teenager after days of grooming and manipulation either unnoticed or ignored by camp counselors.

Based in Waxahachie, Texas, Texas Baptist Home for Children was founded in 1908 by the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas, a group formed after a split within the Baptist General Convention of Texas in the 1890s.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, formed in 1998 by churches impatient with the BGCT’s resistance to a rightward shift in leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, supports both the children’s home and Jacksonville College, a two-year school owned by the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas, as “affiliated ministries.”

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SOURCE: Baptist News Global
Bob Allen