In a statement from the new VP for communications, Jonathan Howe, Baptist Press admitted that their previous reporting on the Jennifer Lyell story was woefully inadequate.
When Jennifer told her story, Baptist Press, though it was begged to do so by many, including Jennifer herself, failed to make it absolutely clear that there was nothing consensual about the “relationship” between her and Dr. David Sills. Because of their failure to report the story accurately, many attacked Jennifer, asking why she was not disciplined for her “immorality.” (It was disgusting, to ask why a victim of sexual assault was not punished for being assaulted!). But the failure to accurately report the story led to Jennifer enduring much pain.
Jonathan made the following statement on the Baptist Press Twitter feed today.
This statement was not satisfying to Rachael Denhollander, who in her Twitter called for an investigation into Baptist Press and its failure to accurately report abuse allegations against Sills and against the abuser of Debbie Vasquez.
She began her thread saying,
“What I referenced today about the Baptist Press‘ defamatory statements regarding @jenlyell and her abuser, former SBTS prof. David Sills, was the tip of the iceberg. The BP trampled on a survivor and shielded a VIOLENT sexual predator who then sought new employment.”
This isn’t the first time in recent history that @baptistpress has done this. They did the same thing to survivor Debbie Vasquez, who became pregnant at 17 through rape by her SBC pastor. Debbie also begged them to correct this, to no avail. He is still a pastor.
— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) October 5, 2019
You can read her feed for the rest of her very direct confrontation of the situation.
Here is what I believe, based on the facts I have.
1. Baptist Press reporting did, in fact, mislead people. I had discussions on our boards here with people who were convinced by the reporting that David Sills and Jennifer had an “affair” and that he was held responsible for it while she was not. That was not accurate. It was not consensual and it was not an affair and Baptist Press’ reporting allowed people to think that.
2. Jonathan Howe made a good start by admitting the fact that the reporting was inaccurate. I am grateful he has come aboard. I hope this will signal a new era in accurate, full, and truthful reporting at Baptist Press.
3. Rachael Denhollander is likely correct that a simple apology is insufficient at this point. Great damage was done to Jennifer and to others because of this reporting. Her idea of an independent investigation or at least a complete accounting of all that went on in the decision to NOT report the truth is fair.
If the SBC is going to “Care Well” then Baptist Press must be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
My chief reason for publishing this is that I remember having discussions with many people who spoke ill of Jennifer. I hope you will accept the truth. She did NOT have a consensual relationship with David Sills. She was a victim of his evil predatory acts. If you spoke ill of her, I hope you will realize your mistake.