The following statement was released by Megan Lively, Jules Woodson and Tiffany Thigpen and is reposted here unedited with permission.
As survivors who have chosen to continue in a role actively engaged with members of the EC, ARITF, and others within the SBC, with the goal of reform, we are sickened and saddened to be burned yet again by the actions of the SBC against survivors. We are releasing this joint statement to stand against the continued measures of destruction chosen by those in leadership to actively detonate any and all measures of justice that are rightfully ours as victims of abuse.
We understand from our own inquiry that not all parties within the SBC, EC or the 47,000 or so churches it represents, are aware of this drastic stance that certain members of SBC and the SBC legal team took back in April on behalf of the Executive Committee, Lifeway and SBTS. This joint statement is to alert all to the dastardly deeds of these and to the red flag of the monies being spent on legal fees to take such action as this Amicus Brief and the Oral arguments now being heard. To absolutely stab survivors in the back. There are no mincing of words here. No holding back. This is disgusting.
The Amicus Brief was filed on April 5, 2023, and it seems to be the perfect April Fool’s joke to quietly file such a thing, under the radar, hoping no one would notice or raise alarms. In fact, it worked, as most were just alerted October 25, 2023, the same day oral arguments were beginning. We learned of this action due to the excellent reporting of Andrew Wolfson of the Louisville Courier-Journal on October 24, 2023. The case they filed an Amicus Brief is regarding the repeated and continual rape by a Louisville police officer of his adopted daughter, Samantha Killary. This amazing victim is finally seeking justice for a second time, after first being dismissed due to the prior statute of limitations which gave a victim only 5 years in which to take legal action. The Court of Appeals reinstated Samantha’s suit and the current case filing is made possible only due to the opening of a Window of Justice brought forth in 2021. Neither the SBC, Executive Committee, Lifeway nor SBTS are named in this lawsuit nor involved in this case, yet the SBC proactively chose to side against a survivor and with an abuser and the institution that enabled his abuse, arguing that Samantha should not even be given access to the court system – that statute of limitations reform does not extend to institutions. These are the same arguments made repeatedly by organizations rife with the cover-up of sexual abuse, including the Catholic Church.
The SBC filed this Amicus brief regarding their own fear of current and future lawsuits and the precedence of this case due to this Window of Justice in which other cases would fall under. In other words, standing directly against a survivor of horrific crimes by her father, to simply save their own behinds in future cases.
We have repeatedly heard the continual cries of foul regarding the costs of the abuse reform and investigations of its own convention, yet these leaders and institutions are willing to pay high costs for the SBC legal firm to file such a brief. These high court costs should not be spent in defense mode against survivors in their communities. Against the only available hope for justice we have, judicially.
It can take decades for survivors (especially of childhood abuse) to come forward or even come to terms with their abuse. A window to justice is needed and necessary for a survivor’s ability to heal and function post abuse. All survivors should have the opportunity to be heard and stand against their abuser and any who looked away. The EC of the SBC and the legal team is shown in all its red handedness, to be directly active in opposing this window of justice and opportunity for this and all other victims of the State of Kentucky. And if denying survivors mere access to the justice system is still the heart and tenor of certain leadership, what does that indicate regarding reform? Statute of limitations reform does nothing other than allow the merits of a case to be heard – to allow for a fair process to weigh evidence. Standing against this reform’s application to institutions is a deliberate effort to silence the survivor voice and ensure the doors to our justice system are forever closed to those who have been victimized.
As survivors, we are asking:
1.For other survivors and advocates to stand with us in decrying this gross injustice of the Amicus Brief filed in this case and to prevent this from happening again. We publicly stand with Samantha Killary.
2. That SBC member bodies to denounce the activities, enormous costs, and pain of the double-edged sword being shown against survivors and reform in the SBC.
3. We ask to see the cost breakdown of all defense mechanisms of the SBC against survivors so that we may compare the spending against us to the monies spent to date on reform measures. We should be able to see apples to apples for future arguments against reform. We ask that the people of the SBC demand accountability of the EC, Lifeway, SBTS and legal team regarding actively standing against windows to justice in our country. Which is unacceptable based on your own agreements to foster judicial due process rather than unduly protecting the institution.
We ask that the SBC honor the resolution they made in 2019, stating : RESOLVED, That we ask civil authorities, in the implementation of due process for the accused, to review laws, in consultation with social workers and trauma counselors, to ensure that privacy laws do not prevent the pursuit of justice on behalf of the abused, and that statutes of limitations (criminal and civil) do not unduly protect perpetrators of sexual abuse and individuals who enabled them;…”
On behalf of ALL survivors,
Megan Lively, Jules Woodson and Tiffany Thigpen
For reference, a portion of your own adopted Resolutions:
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, June 11–12, 2019, condemn all forms of sexual abuse and repudiate with a unified voice all sexually abusive behavior as unquestionably sinful and under the just condemnation of our Holy God; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we lament any and all instances of sexual abuse, particularly in a church setting, and express our appreciation to journalists, victims, and survivors who have brought to light the sexually immoral rot that has existed within churches, including some that identify as Southern Baptist; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on ourselves and our network of congregations and institutions to create a culture where victims can not only share about their abuse with the assurance of protection, but also receive care while church leaders fulfill their obligation to implement policies and practices that protect against and confront any form of abuse in the future; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we implore sexual abuse victims to contact civil authorities, to separate from their abusers, and to seek protection, care, and support from fellow Christians and civil authorities as they are able; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we ask civil authorities, in the implementation of due process for the accused, to review laws, in consultation with social workers and trauma counselors, to ensure that privacy laws do not prevent the pursuit of justice on behalf of the abused, and that statutes of limitations (criminal and civil) do not unduly protect perpetrators of sexual abuse and individuals who enabled them; and be it further