Baptist Pastor Attacked For Handling of Staffer's 'Moral Failure'

Memphis (AP) -- Sexual abuse allegations have led to the suspension of a long-time minister at a Memphis church.

Bellevue Baptist Church, a 30,000-member Southern Baptist congregation, announced Monday that Paul Williams has been placed on paid leave.

The church said there is an investigation into a moral failure that happened 17 years ago.

One church member said the claims involve the abuse of a child and that the senior pastor, the Reverend Steve Gaines, didn't act fast enough.

Doctor Michael Spradlin, the president of mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary said yesterday if Gaines knew about the abuse and did nothing to address it, then he needs to resign.

The seminary gets financial support from the church, but isn't controlled by the church.

Gaines said he thought the issue had been settled when Williams told him in June. He said he only found out two weeks ago that it wasn't.

Gaines said Williams is receiving counseling.

Copyright 2006 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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