Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Hundreds of Southern Baptist church leaders, deacons, youth pastors, Sunday school teachers and church volunteers have been accused of some form of sexual misconduct over the last two decades, two Texas newspapers reported.
The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News compiled a list from thousands of pages of court documents, prison and police records and did hundreds of interviews to build the database, which includes 380 people and more than 700 victims.
Many of the accused took plea deals and in some cases moved to another church, the papers reported. The reluctance of Southern Baptist Convention leadership to post a database of church officials and volunteers convicted of sex crimes prompted them to examine the issue.
"I am broken over what was revealed today," J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote on Twitter. "The abuses described in this Houston Chronicle article are pure evil. I join with countless others who are currently 'weeping with those who weep.'"
The Southern Baptist Convention leadership commended the work. Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore praised the reports in a blog post
"The report is alarming and scandalous, the courage and grace of these survivors is contrasted with the horrific depravity of those who would use the name of Jesus to prey on them," Moore wrote. "How can these predators be back in churches, sometimes just moving down the street to another congregation to prey again? Often, they do so by appealing to some perverted concept of God's grace."
In one case, an attacker who raped a teenage girl kept his job for months before he was fired, the reports said. In another, assaults continued for years and the teen girl was unsuccessful in getting the church to adopt prevention policies.
"Jesus does not cover up sin within the temple of his presence," Moore added. "He brings everything to light. We should too."