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Friday, January 11, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

SNAP fingers Baptist leader

FORT WORTH - The organization that took on the Catholic Church over sex abuse has accused a prominent North Texas Baptist leader of letting a predatory preacher move from church to church.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said they want Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to suspend its president, Dr. Paige Patterson.

Pastor Darrell Gilyard is the center of the controversy. In early January, he resigned from a large Baptist church in Jacksonville, Florida after he allegedly sent lewd text messages to a teenaged girl.

However, that isn't Gilyard's first time to meet with such accusations, which lead back to North Texas and Oklahoma.

Back in the '80s and '90s, Pastor Gilyard was forced to leave four churches after women complained of sexual abuse. Some of those women, and even some church leaders, said Gilyard was able to move from pulpit to pulpit because the claims against him were dismissed by Dr. Patterson.

"I never recommended Darrell anywhere," Dr. Patterson said.

In the past, Dr. Patterson served as Gilyard's mentor and was president of Criswell Bible College in Dallas. He now leads Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

"Not only did I not do anything to block any investigation, I was the one doing the investigation," Dr. Patterson said.

Now, SNAP has asked seminary board members to suspend Dr. Patterson and investigate claims he turned a blind eye to abuse while promoting Gilyard's career.

"Patterson demonstrated a profound failure of moral judgment, a refusal to protect Criswell students who were under his charge and a failure to warn others at risk about a reported serial predator," read a statement from SNAP.