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Local pastor responds to Southern Baptist Convention investigation

From file.
From file.

A local pastor is responding to a bombshell report that for almost 20 years national leaders of the Southern Baptists Convention have covered up reported sex abuse.

South Tulsa Baptist Pastor Eric Costanzo says the convention must commit to addressing any abuse chiefly through the word of God.

“When abuse does occur, because in a convention that has thousands of churches that unfortunately is going to happen again, that it is handled in a way that is faithful first and foremost to the word of God but also to the law,” said Costanzo.

Costanzo also hoped “to protect the dignity of each person who is victimized or in danger of being victimized in the future.”

“We’re going to have keep doing this work forever because unfortunately this is a problem that is never going to go away,” said Costanzo.

According to the 288-page report issued by Guidepost Solutions, survivors and others who described abuse were ignored and met with hostility from SBC leaders.

The report asserts a top-level staffer maintained a list of clergy accused of abuse but no action was taken even as "convicted molesters" continued in ministry.

Costanzo said representatives from his church voted last year at the organization's convention in Nashville for a task force to supervise an independent investigation.

Oklahoma Baptists Executive Director Todd Fisher said he was "heartbroken and sickened by the report."

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.
Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.