Men of God

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A Jacksonville, Fla., television station has revealed a bit more about how officials affiliated with the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention have turned a blind eye to clergy sexual abuse. Watch the segment here. When the Scene exposed SBC leaders' dismissive response to abuse, former SBC president Paige Patterson wasn't beyond rebuke. Patterson, who is now president of a Baptist seminary in Texas, came under fire for his involvement with the Rev. Darrell Gilyard—a protégé who acknowledged several sexual indiscretions as he hopped from church to church in Dallas under Patterson's mentorship in the '90s. Patterson admits he didn't do much to stop Gilyard from moving to other congregations. And in recent months, Gilyard resigned from the pulpit of a Jacksonville, Fla., church after a woman said he sent sexually explicit text messages to her 14-year-old daughter. Gilyard was arrested and has since pleaded not guilty to charges of lewd and lascivious conduct. Though he wouldn't speak with the Scene for the story, Patterson did release a press statement in which he insisted that he “never turned a blind-eye to clergy sex abuse.” But a recent televised interview with a man intimately involved with both Patterson and Gilyard reveals just how much Patterson knew about the indiscretions and “demonic activity” of his young mentee. Don Simpkins, a former police chaplain and pastoral counselor, recently told a Florida TV station that in the '90s, he and Patterson spent an eight-hour day talking to a handful of women who said they were victims of Gilyard. Simpkins says the women described everything “from being raped to being sexually assaulted to sexual affairs that went on with Mr. Gilyard.” During that time, Simpkins says Patterson asked him to spend a year helping Gilyard deal with his shortcomings. Gilyard bowed out of the counseling sessions after only a few months. But in that time, Simpkins says he found Gilyard to be “quite aggressive.” Simpkins says Gilyard threatened him during those sessions and told him things that deeply disturbed him. “I felt like I'd been drug through the sewer,” he says. “When I got away from him, I felt like I had just been in the presence of dirt. And it bothered me, and I felt like there was just a lot of demonic activity there.” Simpkins now hopes to work with Florida district attorneys to paint a true portrait of Gilyard. No word from Patterson. UPDATE: The original video embed has been removed because there was no way to turn off the auto-play feature.

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