Pastor Charged With Clergy Abuse Appears In Court

We trust our religious leaders to help guide us in our faith. Most of them do, but there are some pastors and priests that violate this trust and sexually abuse parishioners. For victims, coming forward about the abuse is incredibly difficult, which means justice is almost never obtained. Justice will be served, however, for one victim after a pastor confessed to sexually abusing a minor.

Stephen Bratton worked as a pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church for over ten years. On May 16, 2019, Bratton confessed to other pastors that he sexually abused a girl from 2013 until 2018, when she turned 18 years old. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office arrested Bratton after the report, and he was excommunicated from the church immediately after confessing to committing abuse. In his first court appearance after his arrest, his bond conditions were set and he was prohibited from going anywhere children will be present, like parks and schools. If convicted, Bratton could serve 25 years to life in prison.

Victims Deserve Justice

It has taken many years for society to take reports of clergy abuse seriously. The state of Texas is fighting clergy abuse with the arrest of a Houston area pastor and a search of The Catholic Diocese of Dallas. It’s commendable Texans can turn to law enforcement to help stop clergy abuse, but criminal proceedings often fall short of giving a victim justice and of taking care of their ongoing physical and emotional needs. Clergy abuse victims can file civil lawsuits against their abusers and the churches that employ them. By pursuing a civil lawsuit, victims can obtain compensation to help pay for therapy and mental health treatment.

At Feldman & Feldman, we’ve represented clergy abuse victims, helping them to get their voices heard. Churches have a responsibility to keep parishioners safe, and when they don’t our Texas clergy abuse attorneys hold them accountable. If you or someone you love suffered clergy abuse, do not wait to call us. We offer free and absolutely confidential consultations. We will listen to your story and let you know what your rights and options are. There is no pressure to work with us, but if you do, we charge no upfront cost and you won’t owe us anything unless we help you obtain compensation. Call us today to talk to an attorney.

Investigation Reveals Over 300 Sexually Abusive Southern Baptist Church Leaders

Just one week after Catholic Dioceses across Texas released the names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse, an investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News revealed 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers across the country have been accused of sexual misconduct. Over 220 of these individuals have been charged with sex crimes. Nonetheless the Southern Baptist Convention has refused to act and implement protocols that could prevent much of this abuse, and now victims want answers.

The Southern Baptist Convention as an institution is particularly susceptible to becoming a vehicle for abusers as church doctrine supports the independence of each local church. Hence, there is no central database tracking when an individual was ordained, accusations of sexual or physical assault, and the background/criminal history of pastors, church officials, or employees. In turn, it was previously unknown just how widespread abuse was within the Southern Baptist Convention. The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News assembled through news reports, prison records, court records, sex offender registries, the number of known predators within the Southern Baptist Convention. However, this probably only represents a fraction of the crisis, as most incidents go unreported, or are not publicly revealed by church officials.

Nonetheless, the Houston Chronicle investigation revealed startling facts. According to the investigation, at least 35 church pastors, employees, and volunteers were able to find a job within Southern Baptist Convention after exhibiting predatory behavior. This was due in part to churches failing to alert law enforcement officials to claims of abuse. The investigation also found that registered sex offenders were able to return to a church and continue working such as one Houston area preacher who sexually assaulted a minor. While some of the church sexual abuse victims were adults, most were minors, with the youngest only three years old. Victims reported being molested, sent explicit communications, photographed nude, exposed to pornography, and repeatedly raped. Many assaults occurred on church grounds.

Helping Victims Speak Out

Feldman & Feldman has been on the front lines holding perpetrators of sex crimes accountable, regardless of denomination, faith, creed, sexual orientation, or race, including members of the Southern Baptist Convention. Religious institutions far too often sweep incidents under the rug, and victims often are unable to seek justice in the criminal justice arena. Feldman & Feldman utilizes recourse in the civil justice system to assist victims in finding closure, and in holding sexual predators fully accountable. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated attorneys.