PREACHER PREDATORS: INVESTIGATING CHILD SEX ABUSE IN THE PROTESTANT CHURCH
JIM AVILA REPORTS ON ABC NEWS’ “20/20,” FRIDAY, APRIL 13
Child sex abuse by Catholic priests has been headline news in recent years, but is the same abuse happening within Protestant churches? In a six-month investigation, ABC News’ “20/20″ found preacher predators in every corner of the country, including several affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) — the largest Protestant denomination. Jim Avila’s exclusive report airs on “20/20,” FRIDAY, APRIL 13 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.
Avila’s reporting finds that the SBC, an organization of 43,000 independent churches and 16.3 million members – has an overall structure that makes it difficult to police preacher predators. One example includes a profile of a SBC pastor who abused kids in Kentucky and then moved on to do the same to eight boys in Missouri before he was finally sent to prison. In an interview with Avila, the SBC president concedes that there is a problem with tracking predators.
“20/20” lists numerous SBC preachers who have been convicted or charged with child sex abuse, including pastors still identified on the SBC’s own website of ordained ministers.
Avila also interviews a preacher who admits, in his jobs as Southern Baptist preacher and teacher in East Texas, that he molested more than 40 boys. For the first time, Ken Ward speaks publicly about how he manipulated families and churches as he targeted and molested children in his care, and how the church is actually a magnet for predators. “I wanted them to love me and that was part of the strategy,” Ward tells Avila. He also gives insight to parents about how to spot a predator.
“20/20” is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and John Stossel. David Sloan is the executive producer.
Watch the video here: