Texas Megachurch Pastor Resigns After Sexual Abuse Allegations

Robert Morris, the founder of a Texas megachurch and a faith adviser to the Trump White House, has resigned from his job as its senior pastor, the church said on Tuesday, days after he was accused of sexually abusing a child in the 1980s.

The Board of Elders of Gateway Church, based in Dallas, said in a statement that it had accepted Mr. Morris’s resignation. The board said it had hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the abuse allegations made public last week by a woman who is now 54. Mr. Morris could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday night.

The statement did not say if any related charges had been filed against Mr. Morris, whose church says it has more than 100,000 active attendees. Messages sent to Haynes and Boone, the firm hired by the church, did not immediately respond to messages.

Over the weekend, The Christian Post, a Christian news outlet based in Washington, D.C., quoted Mr. Morris as saying that he had engaged in “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady.”

“When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying,” Mr. Morris, 62, told The Christian Post. “It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years.”

The relationship was reported last week by The Wartburg Watch, a Christian watchdog publication. The website said that Mr. Morris had sexually abused a girl, beginning when she was 12 years old.

Mr. Morris later told The Christian Post that the relationship had been “brought to light” in 1987. He left the church that year to get counseling, at the request of church officials and the girl’s father, he said. In 1989, he returned with their approval.

On Tuesday, the Board of Elders of Gateway Church said in its statement that it had been aware of Mr. Morris’s inappropriate relationship but did not have all the facts of the situation until last week.

“The elders’ prior understanding was that Morris’s extramarital relationship, which he had discussed many times throughout his ministry, was with ‘a young lady’ and not abuse of a 12-year-old child,” the church said. “Even though it occurred many years before Gateway was established, as leaders of the church, we regret that we did not have the information that we now have.”

Mr. Morris, who founded the church in 2000, served on a faith advisory council during former President Donald J. Trump’s administration. He hosted Mr. Trump at Gateway Church in June 2020.

Asked about Mr. Morris on Tuesday, a spokesman for Mr. Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign said that the pastor had no role in it.

“President Trump’s broad appeal among faith communities across the country is a testament to his unwavering commitment to upholding faith and the protection of religious liberties,” said the spokesman, Steven Cheung.

Chris Cameron contributed reporting.

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