Victim Speaks Out on Alleged Abuse after Megachurch Pastor’s Admission

( – A pastor at a Texas megachurch has left his post after admitting that he abused a girl for years starting when she was just 12 years old.

Robert Morris was the preacher at Gateway Church, located in Southlake Texas. He admitted his predatory behavior to the Christian Post in a statement he submitted to the publication on June 15th. Though Morris had earlier disclosed some of his unsavory past behavior to Gateway church elders, they said they believed he had acted inappropriately with a “young lady.” But the victim (who voluntarily identified herself to correct the record), Cindy Clemishire, was only 12 years old when the abuse began in 1982.

Gateway church, which welcomes up to 100,000 congregants for weekend services, said that although Morris’ behavior occurred years before his association with Gateway, it was unacceptable “abuse.” “We regret that we did not have the information that we now have,” the church said.

In a statement provided to the Christian Post, Morris said that he was in his 20s in the early 1980s when he was “involved in inappropriate sexual behavior” with Clemishire. He was quick to point out that no intercourse had taken place, though Morris admitted to “kissing and petting.” For her part, Clemishire said, in more graphic terms, that this was patently untrue.

Clemishire said she was disgusted to learn that Morris characterized her as a “young lady.” “I was 12 years old,” she said, “a very innocent little girl.” Clemishire said Morris and his family were guests in her childhood home, and that Morris was the preacher at her family’s church at the time. Clemishire’s father had helped found Shady Grove Church. The man “began grooming all of us to do this,” she said, something she did not understand until she was an adult.

Clemishire was further incensed that Morris claimed that her father had assented to Morris returning to his pastoral duties at Shady Grove. To the contrary, she said, her father threatened to call the police unless Morris walked away from the church, telling Morris that he was “lucky he didn’t kill him.”

Because of the amount of time that has passed, the statute of limitations to prosecute Morris has probably passed. But Clemishire’s lawyer Boz Tchividjian said he hopes his client’s situation will prompt lawmakers to abolish the statute of limitations or extend it for child victims of such heinous abuse.

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