A former Southern Baptist seminary professor and his wife have filed suit against the Southern Baptist Convention and 11 other defendants claiming defamation of character and conspiracy in the well-publicized sexual abuse case of Jennifer Lyell.
The lawsuit challenges what has been accepted as fact in one of the highest-profile cases in the web of allegations regarding mishandling of sexual abuse within the SBC.
Lyell’s claim that she was abused by David Sills while he was a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary resulted in a controversial news story published by Baptist Press, the denominational news service, which portrayed the relationship as consensual. Lyell contends it was not consensual.
After several years of dispute, the SBC Executive Committee earlier this year reached a financial settlement with Lyell and issued a public apology for the Baptist Press story. That happened three months prior to release of a bombshell report from an independent investigation that found widespread mishandling of known cases of sexual abuse in the SBC and its churches. That report also cited the Lyell case. Her name appears on 37 pages of the report.
The larger conversation around sexual abuse has dominated SBC life for the past two years and has been addressed by two special task forces, one of which is still working.
Now, David Sills and Mary Sills contend they have been smeared repeatedly in the process and seek monetary damages from the SBC; the SBC Executive Committee; former SBC President Ed Litton; current SBC President Bart Barber; Lyell; Lifeway Christian Resources; Eric Geiger, a former executive vice president at Lifeway; Willie McLaurin, interim president of the Executive Committee; Rolland Slade, former chairman of the Executive Committee; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary; and Guidepost Solutions, the firm that conducted the independent investigation.
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Source: Baptist News Global