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Pastor Robert Morris Resigns Amid Sexual Abuse Allegations Involving Minor

Robert Morris, the founder and senior pastor of Gateway Church, a prominent megachurch in Texas, has resigned following allegations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1980s. Morris, who served as a faith adviser to the Trump White House, admitted to engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor, leading to his resignation and an independent investigation by the church.

Gateway Church, based in Dallas and known for its substantial congregation of over 100,000 active attendees, announced Morris’s resignation through a statement from its Board of Elders on Tuesday. The board revealed that Morris’s resignation was accepted following the public disclosure of the allegations by Cindy Clemishire, a woman who claims Morris sexually abused her starting when she was 12 years old.

The Board of Elders expressed their heartbreak and shock over the allegations. “Regretfully, prior to Friday, June 14, the elders did not have all the facts of the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the length of the abuse,” the board stated. The elders initially believed Morris’s extramarital relationship was with “a young lady” and were unaware it involved a child.

The allegations came to light last week when Clemishire, now 54, shared her story on The Wartburg Watch, a Christian watchdog publication. She detailed that the abuse began on Christmas Day in 1982 and continued until 1987. According to Clemishire, Morris, who was in his early twenties at the time, engaged in kissing and petting but not intercourse, and warned her not to tell anyone as it would “ruin everything.”

Morris later confirmed aspects of Clemishire’s account in a statement to The Christian Post, where he admitted to inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady while staying in her home. “This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years,” Morris said, adding that the situation was brought to light in 1987, leading to his temporary departure from ministry to receive counseling and repentance.

Despite his earlier admissions of a moral failing, Morris returned to ministry in 1989 with the approval of church officials and Clemishire’s father. Gateway Church, which Morris founded in 2000, was unaware of the full extent of the allegations until recently. The church’s Board of Elders has since hired the law firm Haynes and Boone to conduct an independent investigation into Clemishire’s claims.

Clemishire expressed mixed feelings about Morris’s resignation, noting her disappointment that he was allowed to resign rather than being terminated. “Though I am grateful that he is no longer a pastor at Gateway, I am disappointed that the Board of Elders allowed him to resign,” she said in a statement. She further criticized the church for minimizing the crime and for not acting sooner despite her previous disclosures to church leaders in 2005 and 2007.

The allegations and Morris’s resignation have drawn significant attention, especially given his prominent role as a faith adviser during Donald Trump’s presidency. In response to the situation, a spokesperson for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign stated that Morris had no role in the campaign and emphasized Trump’s commitment to upholding faith and religious liberties.

As the investigation proceeds, Gateway Church has expressed its sorrow and commitment to ensuring justice and healing. “For the sake of the victim, we are thankful this situation has been exposed. We know many have been affected by this, we understand that you are hurting, and we are very sorry. It is our prayer that, in time, healing for all those affected can occur,” the Board of Elders stated.

The church did not publicly address the allegations during last weekend’s services, and Morris’s name has since been removed from the church’s leadership page. His son James Morris is now listed as the senior leader of Gateway Church.

The case highlights the ongoing challenges and complexities of addressing sexual abuse within religious institutions. Clemishire’s attorney, Boz Tchividjian, emphasized the importance of statute of limitations reform to allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice, noting that Morris cannot be charged criminally or civilly due to the statutes in place at the time of the abuse.

Clemishire’s decision to come forward publicly aims to encourage other potential victims to share their stories and seek justice. “To the congregation of Gateway Church and the countless who have followed Robert Morris online, my heart is equally broken for you,” Clemishire said. “Please remember our faith is in Jesus, not an institution or a man in the pulpit. Keep your faith!”

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