When I first saw myself described as “the public face” of Baptist clergy sex abuse survivors, I pondered how in the world that had happened. It wasn’t exactly in my plan, you know? But because I survived every attempt of a powerful well-funded institution to try to silence me, I’m now able to write and speak about sexual abuse in Baptistland. So that’s what I’ve done in the hope of shining a light on the widespread systemic problem of Baptist clergy sex abuse and cover-ups.
For me, things started unraveling when I began trying to talk to Baptist officials about the minister who molested and raped me when I was a kid. I could not have imagined the sort of duplicity and intimidation that I encountered. If I had not experienced this Baptistland nightmare in the reality of my own life, I never would have believed it. That reality is what turned my life inside out.
When I wrote an op-ed piece about Baptist abuse cover-ups for the Dallas Morning News, my inbox was flooded with similar stories from others who had also encountered the stone wall of denominational do-nothingness. That’s when I knew that my story was, tragically, quite common.
So, I started writing more and more. This site is where you can explore some of my published columns and articles. My book, a combination memoir and exposé, is This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang.
Other writings include a chapter in the book Restorative Justice in Practice and ten years’ of postings at the StopBaptistPredators blog. For a time, I also maintained the StopBaptistPredators.org website, which compiled media reports on Baptist clergy sex abuse cases. Though these sites are no longer active, I hope they may serve as a resource for others down-the-road.
My work in this area was spotlighted on local and national news segments, including ABC’s 20/20 and Investigation Discovery’s True Crime program. I’ve been interviewed and quoted by numerous newspapers across the country and by the Associated Press, MSNBC, EthicsDaily, the Associated Baptist Press, and Baptist News Global, and numerous blogs such as Patheos and Daily Kos. I’ve also been on radio call-in shows and have been a featured speaker at conferences for clergy sex abuse survivors. I was the first Baptist clergy abuse survivor to directly address members of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee at the “Baptist Vatican” in Nashville.
But of course, this clergy sex abuse stuff is just one part of my life. For twenty-five years, I practiced law as a Texas attorney and was a board-certified specialist in civil appellate law. Early in my career, I worked as an attorney for the Supreme Court of Texas.
My educational background includes:
J.D., with honors, from the University of Texas School of Law, where I received membership in the prestigious Order of the Coif
M.A. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, where I held a University Fellowship
B.A., with highest honors, in French and English, from the University of North Texas
After leaving the law, I started into a religious studies Ph.D. program at the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology. At the time, I imagined it might help me make sense of what I was seeing in Baptistland — the cover-ups, the mass-scale denial, the failure to protect kids, the victim-blaming vitriol, and the refusal to implement safeguards like those in other faith groups. But of course, understanding on an intellectual level and understanding on an emotional level are two different things. In any event, a double-cancer came along and, ultimately, that left me with more clarity about what I wanted — and didn’t want — in the rest of my life.
So nowadays, you’re more likely to find me on a trail or in a yoga class rather than at a press conference or in a courtroom. I’ve spent several years teaching yoga for cancer survivors, and I continue to learn more about yoga with every moment on my mat.
I’m the proud mom of an extraordinary daughter who is all grown up now. My husband and I live in Colorado, and whenever I can, I’m out hiking in the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Happy trails.