Registered sex offender chosen head pastor at a church in Texas

Claude Gilliland III, new head of

Claude Gilliland III, new head of the New Heart Family Worship Center

DEFENDING a decision to appoint Claude Gilliland III, 54, to the post of senior pastor at the New Heart Family Worship Center in Cleburne, Texas, the retiring head of the church, Carl Roye, pointed out great men of God in the Bible who had sinned too.

David was an adulterer and a murderer, Roye said.

He added:

Paul the apostle, he was a murderer and God forgave them and used them in a great way. I think He loves Claude Gilliland just like He loves Carl Roye and just like He loves you or whoever.

Though the church board knew about Gilliland’s past, the congregation didn’t find out Gilliland was a registered sex offender until after the vote.

Gilliland was convicted in 1993 of sexual assault.

Roye explained:

He was going through a nasty divorce. His wife claimed he raped her. He said he never raped her  … He ultimately spent four years in prison.

Pastor Roye, ailing and retiring, introduced Gilliland to the church he started. Roye said Gilliland was upfront with him from the beginning.

About two weeks ago, I told him it would be a good idea to tell the church about it. He wasn’t as forthcoming as I hoped he would. He just said he had a dark past. He’d be glad to talk to anyone about it if they wanted to talk to him. He never had anyone come to him.

Roye said he is standing behind Gilliland based on a principal in the Bible.

The whole thing about the church is forgiveness. The Bible states if we can’t forgive our brother, then God can’t forgive us of our sins.

According to this report, Texas Department of Public Safety records show that Gilliland was convicted of sexual assault on a 35-year-old woman. He is required to annually re-register with the state. records show Gilliand was also convicted of theft and driving while intoxicated.

Cleburne Deputy Police Chief Amy Knoll said there are no laws, at least locally, that govern how Gilliland chooses to live or work. And because his offence was against an adult, there would have been no laws about his interaction with children.

He was, however, listed among all sex offenders residing in Johnson County in an October Times-Review story that warned parents about trick-or-treating at offenders’ homes.

If he’s not on probation or parole, there are not any rules about whether he can be around children. There is nothing about where he can work that we [the police department] would deal with.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn