Investigative journalist, Julie Roys at The Roys Report has done an incredible job reporting on Bryan Loritts’ fake doctorate, his cover up of sexual abuse by his brother-in-law, and his incomprehensible hiring by J.D. Greear as an executive pastor at the Summit Church in North Carolina. People should follow her at https://julieroys.com/ and on Twitter @reachjulieroys.
This is a major story. J.D. Greear is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. During his tenure, he has spoken out on behalf of victims but he is not applying what he has taught in his hiring of Bryan Loritts, nor in his handling of victim, Jennifer Baker, and witness, Greg Selby.
Greear called for the Caring Well Conference: Equipping the Church to Confront the Abuse Crisis (October 2019) but he and his staff are not caring well now; except for their own interests. Ask Baker and Selby. Here are a few comments they made during a podcast interview with Roys on June 11. This was after their conversation with Dave Thompson (lead pastor) and Todd Unzicker (an associate pastor) from The Summit Church which occurred the last week in May. Rachael Denhollander set up and participated in that phone call.
JENNIFER BAKER: You mentioned that they have Care Well or Caring Well. And I thought that is unbelievable that the leaders of what is supposed to be a ministry, caring for others, not once [during the conversation] asked how we were spiritually and if there was anything that they could do if we were back in Church how we had wrestled with that. JENNIFER BAKER: Every victim that I’ve talked to has agreed that that was a terrible, terrible, terrible thing that shouldn’t have been allowed to continue [i.e., the taking of voyeuristic videos by Loritts’ brother-in-law]. But the real damage has been done by the manipulation, the intimidation and the effort to silence and keep separate and discredit all of the victims [by various pastors & church leaders], has been the most traumatic and ongoing harm. Far greater than the incident that happened in 2010. And it’s had so many longer lasting effects than just that incident in 2010. GREG SELBY: These other guys [who covered up] have been systematic in their evil and are unapologetic about it. … What I couldn’t understand was that everybody was complicit. That was the part that got me. It was that Bryan Loritts and these other guys were part of a systematic cover up and it went beyond their church, went to other churches.
In keeping with his own teaching, Greear should immediately direct and authorized an independent investigation of himself, his staff and Bryan Loritts for the good of the victims, the Summit Church, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and beyond. If he refuses, people should ask for his resignation as pastor and president.
May 27, 2020
June 9, 2020
June 11, 2020
By Julie Roys
June 12, 2020
After the first article, I tweeted out the following.
Brent Detwiler@BrentDetwiler What are you doing J.D.@jdgreear? Bryan Loritts has no integrity. How can he wear a fake robe for fake doctorate from fake school? Why in the world are you hiring him as exec. pastor to start on Jun 1. Stop! You need to call him to repentance & investigate his cover up of crimes. 12:21 PM · May 27, 2020
Anyone willing to buy a fake doctorate from a fake university and pretentiously put Doctor before his name is a fraud! That same kind of person will cover up sex crimes for his brother-in-law in order to protect his own image and ministry assets (e.g. by throwing evidence into the Mississippi River).
On Tuesday (Jun 16), the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention meet via Zoom. This matter of hiring Loritts should be on their agenda. I’d encourage them to pass a resolution encouraging Greear to commence an independent investigation. At the least, his friends in the SBC, like David Platt, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, should encouragement him to do so.
On June 9, Loritts did an interview with Seth Brown of the Biblical Recorder which is a voice piece for the Southern Baptist Convention in North Carolina and nationally. You can listen to it here and also read the article by Brown that followed on June 11 at the same link.
Two weeks previous (May 24), Brown made the hiring of Loritts by Greear public in this article. Here is an excerpt.
Bryan Loritts to join The Summit's leadership team North Carolina Seth Brown, BR Executive Editor May 24, 2020 Well-known preacher Bryan Loritts will join the pastoral staff at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham beginning June 1, the church announced during online worship services this weekend. Summit pastor J.D. Greear called Loritts “one of the most gifted pastors and preachers in the United States” during the announcement. As one of the church’s executive pastors, Loritts will oversee leadership development, work with the church’s ethnic diversity initiative and join the multi-campus preaching team, according to an email Greear sent to church members today (May 24) that was obtained by the Biblical Recorder.
Greear is hiring Loritts for his notoriety, race and gifting. It is unimaginable he was put in charge of “leadership development” given his totally inept leadership (and crooked handling) of the crimes committed by his brother-in-law and his complete absence of care for the victims and witnesses.
In her June 12 article, Julie Roys makes reference to concerns shared with her by Rachael Denhollander after watching the video.
Rachel Denhollander, a well-known advocate for abuse survivors, says she has “deep concerns” after watching the video. Denhollander, who was on a recent conference call [the end of May] between Selby, one of Trotter’s victims, and Summit Church, said “there are serious questions that remain that need to be answered.”
Julie Roys credits Denhollander’s involvement and calls attention to the deceitful handling of Baker and Selby by The Summit. Here are a few excerpts.
June 11, 2020 Eyewitnesses Accuse J.D. Greear & Summit of “Sham” Investigation Podcast / Duration: 52:12 JULIE ROYS: However, you had this conference call [the end of May]. My understanding, Rachel Denhollander put this together. Rachel again, one of Larry Nasser’s victims, a lawyer, an advocate for sex abuse survivors. She put together this call with you and Jennifer and one other person who doesn’t want to go on the record, so we won’t name him. JENNIFER BAKER: And so, this Zoom call was set up. And at the last minute, we were told that it wouldn’t be on Zoom, that it would be a conference line. And it was a little unsettling because then we had no way of knowing who was on the call. We were told that it was going to be just the two staff from Summit and then Rachael and us. And so it was a little disconcerting. And then once we got on the call, it became immediately evident that they weren’t interested in discerning or bridging the gap between Bryan’s statement and what they had been reading [in Roys’ articles]. JENNIFER BAKER: Okay. Shame on Summit for taking full hour to meet [by phone] with Greg and I [the end of May] to gain more insight and information, and then put out this blatantly false statement [the video/article by Brown on Jun 11] in complete contradiction to what we testified to and what we spelled out for them. GREG SELBY: Well, you might say, whose testimony holds more weight Bryan’s or mine? Here’s what I would say to that. One of us has ever, ever in his life ever stood up to protect the church from a sexual predator. And it’s not Bryan. And that’s the one they want to hire. That’s weird. JULIE ROYS: Well, he is hired right now. He is the executive pastor at Summit right now. Moody Publishers just published his new book, The Dad Difference, and from what I hear through the grapevine, Bryan is being groomed for a large leadership position in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Yikes! God forbid he is given a “large leadership position” in the SBC.
In response to the video/article, Rachael Denhollander had more to say on her Twitter account on June 12. I’ve compiled her tweets below in one flowing arrangement for readability. You can see them in their original format here.
If the process outlined by Denhollander were followed by Greear, Loritts would never have been hired. She makes great points about how to properly vet someone like him “under these circumstances.”
Twitter Rachael Denhollander June 12, 2020 I am deeply discouraged by this hire [of Bryan Loritts] as things stand right now. From Summit’s statement it would appear that the process for bringing Bryan on board is more extensive than many churches would have done. However in cases where serious allegations and questions have been present and there is concern about obtaining all relevant information, a closed process simply cannot provide what is needed to ensure the truth is reached. Pastors, if you are considering bringing someone on staff under these circumstances, hire an independent, trusted and qualified third party to handle the vetting and investigation for you. Here is some guidance for how to do this: This firm or these individuals should NOT be retained as attorneys, as doing so creates attorney-client privilege over at least some of the information, and is a common tactic used by organizations to obscure information. If you desire to pursue transparency and encourage the truth to come forward, retain the individuals or firm as consultants not w/ an attorney/client relationship. Your church attorney can review the information and reports with you, but must not be involved in the vetting. Conduct the vetting openly and in a way that makes it safe for survivors or others with difficult information, to come forward. Survivors and witnesses with problematic evidence will be extremely unlikely to speak to your church attorney or to speak to any attorneys you’ve brought on in an attorney/client capacity – this is wise of them to refrain from doing so. If you desire to get to all the facts, provide a safe conduit for the information. The vetting must be conducted openly and make it clear that the truth is desired. Witnesses and victims who may possess information will not be able to bring it to you if they are unaware of the vetting process. This also requires open dialogue between victims/witnesses and investigators and the exchange of information where possible to facilitate obtaining complete and detailed information. The process should produce a public written report which accurately reflects the methods of investigating, the facts uncovered, where facts are in dispute or questions remain unanswered, the strengths of the witnesses or evidence where possible, and recommendation. Identities of victims or of those who fear retaliation can be protected - Personal Identifying Information (PII) is routinely redacted in these types of reports without compromising transparency. If you retain a good firm, they will know how to do this.
None of this was done by her friend, J.D. Greear or The Summit Church. In this twitter thread, she does not exhort him to go back and redo the vetting. She continues.
Regarding Bryan Loritts, I genuinely grieve for what his family has endured in being both victims of Rick Trotter’s abuse, and finding the perpetrator in their own family [Trotter was married to Loritts’ sister]. I do believe there are serious questions that remain unanswered, including but not limited to: 1 – 2 witnesses who independently stated that Bryan told them early on, that the phone had been destroyed. 1 [Greg Selby] alleges that Bryan specifically told him that attorneys had told the church to throw the phone into the Mississippi, and that he urged Bryan to preserve the evidence. 2 – One of these witnesses [Jennifer Baker] also alleges that she approached Bryan several weeks after the phone was discovered and was discouraged from reporting and told it was “too late” because the phone was gone. I understand there is a third, non-family member survivor who Summit spoke with who reports that she WAS urged to report. But we must acknowledge all the witnesses who have spoken up and how their reports intersect or conflict. 3 – I remain deeply bothered that there is no pressure on Fellowship Memphis regarding what happened to the cell phone with all the videos, and no apparent desire to find out. This has been a question victims have been asking for at least four years, quite publicly. At least one victim (with another witness who was also a victim) reports asking Bryan repeatedly in a private phone conversation to answer that question. This is in addition to the other survivor who reports also being told the phone was destroyed. That there has never been a sense of urgency to discover what happened to the sole piece of physical evidence of felony crimes, is beyond disturbing, especially given that victims have been begging for this answer. 4 – Incongruities in the handling of whether FM [Fellowship Memphis] reported. Bryan repeatedly stated over the years that the church immediately reported, and he did not respond when Memphis PD [Police Department] noted no evidence of a report or a call, both on Twitter and in the press. Bryan notes now wishing he had asked for written documentation, but he does not say who told him the report had been made, and makes no effort to push for these answers, though this has been a question victims have been asking for years. 5 – Bryan stated that he had no idea that there were for sure minors involved. However, a witness who alleges that he was brought in to work with Rick Trotter, says he specifically told Bryan that Rick had confessed to children being on that phone. This witness has stated that Rick was concerned about losing custody of his kids due to having videotaped minors in the bathroom. This witness says he also specifically told Bryan that Rick confessed to taking pictures of girls at Chick-Fil-A flashing him, and paying them for it. We must acknowledge the presence of these statements. This is the same witness who reported that Bryan said that the church’s attorneys told them to destroy the phone. 6 – Bryan states he wished he had grabbed the pastors at Memphis Downtown “by the collar” and urged them not to hire Rick when Rick came back from rehab for a sex addiction. However, he does not mention that he had reportedly personally discipled/trained one of the pastors at MD [Memphis Downtown]. This would have created a relationship that would have allowed Bryan to speak directly into the wisdom of hiring Rick, had he chosen to do so. Bryan also does not mention that he was urged to prevent Rick’s reentering ministry at MD in 2011, in writing, in an email sent to the entire pastoral team, charging them with responsibility for not allowing a sexual predator to be hired at another church. (I have seen the email) There is certainly more that can be said. But I remain deeply concerned at the lack of proactivity by Bryan on behalf of these survivors, the lack of transparency regarding the behavior of Fellowship Memphis, and the apparent lack of concern at serious allegations against men Bryan lead as their lead pastor. While he was reportedly screened, he was nonetheless the lead pastor. Grief at the damage done requires active and intentional steps to fight for truth and transparency. These q’s [questions] have been at the forefront of discussion for at least 4 yrs. It is a complex situation with many people involved. Reports directly conflict at times, or shed a very different perspective at other times. And with reportedly over 100 victims, serious questions remain about what additional information hasn’t been uncovered. This is why a process that provides a public, properly qualified, safe conduit for victims and witnesses to speak up, is essential in these cases. Fellowship Memphis should also pursue an independent review of their handling of the matter, with Bryan’s full participation. All these questions and observations necessitate a professional investigation, not an internal review by an elder and pastor. Indirectly, Denhollander is saying J.D. Greear and The Summit Church should pursue “an independent review.” It should include an investigation of Fellowship Memphis and a third church she does not mention, Downtown Church in Memphis. Why? Because there are “serious questions that remain unanswered.” I don’t think Greear will listen to her. She continues. Additionally concerning is that Bryan stated that the reasons for not notifying the church was not because they were trying to hide something, but acknowledges it was fear of liability. Pastors, this IS hiding. It is intentionally not disclosing due to fear of a lawsuit. It is imperative that you understand that “coverup” is often not a smoke-filled room with men determining that child abuse is fine and should be allowed to continue. “Coverup”, many times, is choosing not to report or disclose, because something else has taken priority.
J.D. Greear and his staff have insisted there was no cover up. Rev. Caring Well doesn’t know the first thing about the law or human nature if he can’t see through Loritts. Greear is swallowing the torrent of lies told by Loritts. Finally, an appeal to pastors
Pastors, if you have erred in the past related to abuse, PROACTIVELY seek to restore those you have harmed. Actively confess where you have failed. Work with the victims to lead the way in pushing for truth, transparency, accountability and justice. If you have seen failure and been broken over the damage done, actively become part of the solution – grief and repentance will lead to a change in your actions and a deep desire to restore. *end*
Denhollander doesn’t spotlight Greear they way she should but her message is discernable. Do an investigation. I trust she is pressing the point in private. Nor does she address the mistreatment of Greg Selby and Jennifer Baker which she observed during their conference call with Summit leaders, Dave Thompson and Todd Unzicker. I imagine this in going on in private.
Finally, Denhollander doesn’t credit Roys. She should because Roys has done most all the work and broke the story. She is using her information and making her arguments. Attributions should be forthcoming.
This in another story about hypocrisy at the highest levels of leadership in the evangelical church. I hope the SBC will call upon Greear to do a professional vetting of Loritts and an independent investigation of the whole matter. The same with the members of his church. Greear’s motto is “The Gospel Above All.” If so, then he must commence an independent investigation for the sake of the gospel.
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This article is originally posted here, and is reposted with permission from the author, Brent Detwiler.