‘Godlike’ Baptist and former judge allegedly abused teen
Retired Texas state judge Paul Pressler, above, has been hit with a lawsuit which alleges that he repeatedly abused a boy in the late 1970.
Also named as co-defendents in the lawsuit, filed by Gareld Duane Rollins, is a wing of the Southern Baptist Convention.
According to the Baptist Press, Pressler’s legal team released a statement last week, in which attorney Ted Tredennick called the allegations “frivolous.”
Pressler – who helped engineer a strategy to turn the Southern Baptist Convention back to its theologically conservative roots in the late 20th century – denies Rollins’ allegations that he was the victim of repeated abuse from the age of 14 when he he was enrolled in a young adult Bible study which Pressler led at Houston’s First Baptist Church, and later served as Pressler’s office assistant.
According to this report, the abuse, which consisted of anal penetration, took place in Pressler’s master bedroom study. Pressler allegedly told Rollins he was “special” and that the sexual contact was their God-sanctioned secret.
Rollins listed Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, its President Paige Patterson, Pressler’s wife Nancy, Houston First and others as additional defendants, claiming they facilitated the abuse and “concealed the wrongful conduct of Pressler” from law enforcement authorities.
Each of the defendants, in their responses to the lawsuit filed with the court, have denied all allegations by Rollins.
The lawsuit demands more than $1 million in relief, claiming the alleged abuse contributed to Rollins’ life of substance abuse and crime.
Pressler, 87, was a justice on the Court of Appeals of Texas, 14th District, and a member of the Texas state legislature. He also served Southern Baptists in various other volunteer capacities.
At least 10 pages of the 40-page lawsuit focus on the Southern BC’s conservative turn, known as the Conservative Resurgence, arguing the culture fostered by Resurgence leaders contributed to the alleged abuse.
The lawsuit claims Patterson, like Pressler, “appears to be a closet Calvinist” and that the supposedly Calvinistic theology they advocated during the Resurgence regarded women and children as “property.” Pressler’s co-defendants, the suit claims, made “minors sexually available to Pressler,” who “under Calvinist dogma” is “considered to be [among the] Vice Regents of God.”
Southwestern and Houston’s First, the lawsuit allege:
Fraudulently misrepresented to the public in word and deed, including to Plaintiff Rollins and his mother, that Pressler was a Godlike, sexually safe, moral, and great person of the earth who, as a Magistrate, worked God’s wisdom and thus would not be sexually dangerous to minors.
Houston’s First told BP in a statement:
A lawsuit has been filed against a former member of our church, the church itself, and other parties. Paul Pressler III and his wife were members of Houston’s First Baptist Church for many years. They have not been members of our church since 2007.
The events the lawsuit alleges are said to have “occurred in the 1980s, and we do not believe that any former or current staff members had knowledge of or involvement with any of the conduct forming the basis of the allegations,” Houston’s First said.
The case is in its earliest stages and is likely to proceed with typical pre-trial discovery requests and other normal motions and responses.
Southwestern and Patterson filed a motion November 17 asking a judge to change the venue of the case to Tarrant County, where the seminary is located. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for January 16.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn