robert morris
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The Board of Elders of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, recently announced that the megachurch’s founder, Robert Morris, has resigned, and they’ve retained a law firm to investigate a claim made by a woman who alleges Morris sexually abused her over multiple years in the 1980s starting when she was 12 years old. The board said in a statement to The Christian Post, “Today, June 18, the Board of Elders of Gateway Church accepted the resignation of Robert Morris, the senior pastor. In addition, the Board has retained the law firm of Haynes & Boone, LLP, to conduct an independent, thorough, and professional review of the report of past abuse to ensure we have a complete understanding of the events from 1982-1987.

Morris’ resignation comes after the woman, 54-year-old grandmother Cindy Clemishire, reported that the megachurch pastor began sexually abusing her on Dec. 25, 1982, and continued with the abuse for four-and-a-half years after that. Without naming Clemishire, Morris admitted to CP in an earlier statement that he had engaged in “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady” while he was a pastor in his early 20s. Morris said, “When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying. It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years.”

Morris added, “In March of 1987, this situation was brought to light, and it was confessed and repented of. I submitted myself to the Elders of Shady Grove Church and the young lady’s father. They asked me to step out of ministry and receive counseling and freedom ministry, which I did. Since that time, I have walked in purity and accountability in this area.” However, accuser Cindy Clemishire pushed back on a number of Morris’ claims, specifically his assertion she was a “young lady” at the time of the alleged abuse.

Clemishire said she was “just appalled” to hear Morris describe her in that way as she was a young child who didn’t understand what was unfolding. “I was 12 years old,” she told The Christian Post. “I was a little girl. A very innocent little girl. And he was brought into our home.” Clemishire continued, “He and his wife, Debbie, and their little boy, Josh, and trusted and preached at the church that my dad helped start and then began grooming all of us to do this, which took me decades to wrap my brain around as an adult.” The accuser said she doesn’t believe Morris should be in ministry after the alleged abuse and also claimed her father never gave his blessing for Morris to return to the pastorate. Elders at Gateway Church also told CP that Morris was transparent with them about his past, and they believed he had been biblically restored to ministry. In their latest statement, however, the elders said Morris did not reveal that he had abused a 12-year-old.

The elders explained, “Regretfully, prior to Friday, June 14, the elders did not have all the facts of the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the length of the abuse. The elders’ prior understanding was that Morris’s extramarital relationship, which he had discussed many times throughout his ministry, was with “a young lady’ and not abuse of a 12-year-old child. Even though it occurred many years before Gateway was established, as leaders of the church, we regret that we did not have the information that we now have. We are heartbroken and appalled by what has come to light over the past few days, and we express our deep sympathy to the victim and her family.”

It’s the latest controversy to rock Christendom, emerging just days after Dr. Tony Evans, another celebrated preacher, announced he was stepping away from his senior pastoral duties at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship (OCBF) in Dallas, Texas, after reportedly falling short “due to sin.”

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