Gateway Church Founder Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations from 1980s

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In an unexpected turn of events, Robert Morris, the senior pastor and founder of Gateway Church, a megachurch in Texas, has stepped down from his role. This sudden move comes in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct stemming from actions harking back to the 1980s. A woman has come forward, alleging that Morris repeatedly targeted her when she was just 12.

The church’s board of elders issued a statement this Tuesday, acknowledging receipt and acceptance of Morris’s resignation. They also announced hiring a law firm to conduct an unbiased, thorough inquiry into the allegations, events circulating between 1982 and 1987.

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The revelations surfaced on the religious watchdog site The Wartburg Watch this past Friday. The accuser, Cindy Clemishire, in an interview with The Dallas Morning News on Saturday shared her story. She traced back her encounter with Morris to 1981, when he was a peripatetic preacher at her family’s church in Oklahoma. According to Clemishire, Morris, along with his wife and young son, cultivated a close relationship with her family. Morris, she says, was staying at her house in 1982, and one night, asked her to come to his room. Here, according to Clemishire, he asked the girl to lay on his bed before beginning to touch her inappropriately.

Clemishire, now 54, alleges that the distressing ordeal continued for approximately four-and-a-half years. The Associated Press only reveals the names of alleged sexual assault victims should they publicly come forth themselves, as has Clemishire.

The Christian Post sought to gain Morris’s perspective on these allegations. The now 62-year-old admitted to engaging in “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying” during his early 20s. He admitted to wrongdoing, stating that though there was no intercourse involved, the “kissing and petting” was unquestionably wrong. He acknowledged that this behavior reoccurred multiple times over several subsequent years.

The board of elders conceded that they were not privy to the full details, including the girl’s age and the longevity of the abuse perpetrated by Morris. They underscored that their previous knowledge of Morris’s extramarital relationship, referred to several times during his ministry, was not explicitly characterized as abuse involving a child of 12.

Gateway Church, launched by Morris in 2000, is headquartered in Southlake, a Dallas suburb, and boasts multiple branches in the vicinity and assembles over 100,000 worshippers each weekend. Morris, apart from his role as the founder and pastor, has been politically active. He was a member of former President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board and even welcomed Trump for a dialogue on racial matters and the economy on the church’s Dallas campus in 2020.

As of now, all solicitations made to Morris for a comment via his church email have gone unanswered.

Note: An amendment has been made to rectify Cindy Clemishire’s age from 52 to 54.