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.

Are Ridesharing Services Safe For Women?

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have hit the transportation industry by storm. These convenient rides are popular all over the country, but many are wondering if these services do enough to protect women from violence. Several high profile cases, including one in Houston, have left many women with the impression that ridesharing services just aren’t safe for them.

Uber currently has over 750,00 drivers nationwide, which is impressive considering the company was only launched in 2009. During this time period, however, the number of alleged assaults has also skyrocketed. Dozens of assaults against women have been reported to Uber and Lyft in large cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Washington D.C., and Houston. In December 2014, two different women in Boston accused two different Uber drivers of assault on the same night alone. Later in the Spring of 2015, a woman was sexually assaulted by an Uber driver in Houston.

Fast forward to 2018, and not much has changed. Ridesharing drivers around the country are being arrested for assaults against female passengers. Some of these assaults occurred while victims were unconscious, while others are accused of kidnapping passengers.

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft do perform background checks on drivers, but many dangerous drivers seem to be slipping through the cracks. These companies rely on third party organizations to perform background checks on potential drivers, but they do not always research far enough into applicants’ criminal records. In addition, third party job application screening services only perform background checks covering the past seven years. This means drivers with felonies older than seven years can still drive for Uber or Lyft as long as a sufficient amount of time has passed.

Women Have Rights As Ridesharing Passengers

Ridesharing companies aren’t doing enough to protect female passengers from harm. No woman should be victimized just because she is getting ride home. Furthermore, ridesharing services are often touted as a safe alternative to driving while under the influence after a night out; but media coverage has made us well aware that passenger safety isn’t always a guarantee. These companies are reluctant to institute policies that would protect women, but that doesn’t mean female passengers are helpless. Victims of sexual assault during Uber or Lyft rides have a right to hold these companies accountable.

Getting Help After A Sexual Assault

At Feldman & Feldman, we understand the difficulties faced by sexual assault victims. We have successfully represented sexual assault victims in the past and there is no adversary too big for us to tackle. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated attorneys.