Woman who accused ex-Trump adviser of molesting her says he shouldn’t lead a church

Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, confesses to ‘inappropriate sexual behavior’  NBC News

Woman who accused ex-Trump adviser of molesting her says he shouldn’t lead a church

Woman who accused ex-Trump adviser of molesting her says he shouldn’t lead a church

Pastor Robert Morris Confesses to Past “Moral Failure” Involving Child Molestation

Pastor Robert Morris, a Texas megachurch pastor who served as a spiritual adviser to former President Donald Trump, has confessed to a “moral failure” four decades ago after a woman accused him of repeatedly molesting her as a child.

Accusations of Abuse

  1. The woman, Cindy Clemishire, told NBC News that Morris, now a senior pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, was staying with her family on Christmas night in 1982. She was 12; he was 21.
  2. Clemishire said Morris invited her to his room, where he instructed her to lie on her back. He then touched her breasts and felt under her panties, Clemishire said — the first of several similar encounters that would span the next 4½ years.
  3. “Never tell anyone about this,” Clemishire recalled him saying. “It will ruin everything.”

Confession and Response

Responding to questions about Clemishire’s account, Morris acknowledged Saturday in a statement to The Christian Post, an evangelical news site, what he called “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady” when he was in his 20s.

  • Morris said the sexual encounters happened on “several occasions” over the next few years, until “the situation was brought to light” in March 1987.
  • Morris said he confessed to church elders at the time and sought forgiveness.
  • “Since that time, I have walked in purity and accountability in this area,” Morris said, according to the statement. “The sin was dealt with correctly by confession and repentance.”

Impact and Influence

Morris’ reach and influence extend far beyond his role leading one of the country’s largest megachurches. He served on Trump’s spiritual advisory board during his first presidential campaign and while Trump was president.

In a statement Monday to NBC News, campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung distanced Trump from Morris and said the former president had not been aware of the allegations.

Continued Controversy

Clemishire’s attorney, Boz Tchividjian, is a former prosecutor who has spent three decades investigating sexual misconduct and child abuse. Tchividjian said the use of phrases such as “moral failure” and “young lady” is meant “to sanitize something that is criminal.”

When Clemishire’s family met Morris, he was a traveling evangelist who spoke at churches and high school assemblies under the tutelage of James Robison, a televangelist and leader in the Moral Majority movement of the 1980s.

Clemishire said that, at the urging of a friend, she finally told her father that March, at age 17, about how Morris had abused her over the years. She said her father, furious, called the lead pastor at Shady Grove and threatened to file a police report unless Morris stepped down from ministry.

Current Influence and Controversial Views

Today, Morris is known in Texas and nationally for his efforts to advance conservative Christian morality through government and Republican politics.

  • In 2017, Morris called on parishioners to support a bill pitched by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, as a way to “protect the safety of women and children” — that would have banned transgender people from using public bathrooms that correspond with their genders.
  • He has also preached about dangers posed to children in public schools, where Morris said Satan has been attacking students through curricula and libraries.
  • Like most evangelical pastors, Morris teaches a strict adherence to sexual purity outside of marriage.

Clemishire said she felt ill when she saw a video of one of Morris’ sermons. To her, it sounded as though Morris was blaming girls and women for the sins of men.

“When he presented himself to be vulnerable onstage and share all of his shortcomings, of course people are going to be drawn to that,” Clemishire said. “I don’t think they would have been drawn to the fact that he molested a 12-year-old child.”

Source: nbcnews.com