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DOJ Probing Southern Baptist Church for Alleged Sexual Abuse

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The DOJ is conducting a sexual abuse investigation against the Southern Baptist Church, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, the congregation said in a statement Friday.

Church officials said they are fully cooperating with the investigation and stressed that they regret the mistakes of the past.

In mid-June, Southern Baptist Convention parishioners approved the creation and disclosure of a registry of pastors who have committed sexual abuse, after learning of a report that revealed past attempts to cover up such cases.

The vote took place during the church’s annual meeting, which was held south of Los Angeles and was attended by around 8,000 people to decide the future of the country’s largest Protestant denomination, with nearly 15 million members and more than 47,000 churches nationwide.

Most of the attendees gave the green light both to publish the names associated with allegations of abuse and to keep the list updated with future cases.

The decision came after the release in May of an independent report, commissioned by the institution itself, which concluded that Church leaders ignored and even intimidated abuse victims and concealed their allegations for at least two decades.

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The investigation, carried out by Guidepost Solutions, covered allegations by children and women against pastors and employees of the group’s churches since 2000.

According to the report, the Church leadership already had in its hands a detailed list of priests accused of abuse, but kept it secret while many of those who appeared on the list continued to work in churches throughout the country.

Previously, the entity had defended that it could not collect information on the alleged abuses because it interfered with the autonomy of the different churches.