Sexual abuse allegations lead to suspension of prominent Southern Baptist pastor

Associated Press/December 21, 2006

Sexual abuse allegations have led to the suspension of a longtime minister at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, where the late Adrian Rogers was pastor.

The 30,000-member Southern Baptist congregation says Paul Williams has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation of a "moral failure" 17 years ago.

But some Bellevue members say the claims involve abuse of a child and that Senior Pastor Steve Gaines didn't act quickly enough when he found out about them in June.

Gaines says he didn't take action then "because the event occurred many years ago," because Williams "was receiving professional counseling," and because of concerns about confidentiality.

He said in a statement that he now realizes he should have told church leadership immediately.

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