Monday, March 19, 2012

THREE SEBTS Students Guilty of Serious Sexual Crimes

In the past five years there have been THREE Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students who have been charged and convicted of serious sexual crimes. Brian "Doug" Goodrich stood in a courtroom and pled guilty in June of 2006 to taking indecent liberties with boys as young as 13 years old. A grand jury had indicted him on 10 counts, including statutory sex offenses, indecent liberties and first-degree sex exploitation. Doug, a student at Southeastern Seminary at the time, is not yet halfway through serving his 13 year prison sentence. Justin Eugene Taylor was arrested and charged in December 2007 with "unlawfully, willfully and feloniously attempting to take immoral, improper and indecent liberties against (a minor) for the purpose of arousing and gratifying sexual desire." Justin pled guilty in 2008 and was released on probation. After violating his probation, Justin was sentenced to serve time in a North Carolina prison where he is scheduled to be released in 2014. At the time of his arrest, Justin was a student at Southeastern Seminary. Last weekend, Southeastern Seminary student William Watson Birch was arrested for sexually assaulting a "mentally incapacitated and physically helpless" male seminary student. William Birch has already confessed his guilt. Southeastern Theological Seminary is a good school.  I recommended SEBTS last Sunday to one of our members interested in pursuing ministry, so nobody should read this post as an attack on SEBTS. I am pointing out that William Birch's sexual assault on a drugged victim this past Saturday is not an uncommon event. Southern Baptists have SIX seminaries. We have over 45,000 churches. We have nearly 5,000 missionaries and tens of thousands of ordained ministers and seminary students. In the past twelve months there have been staggering numbers of Southern Baptists who have either confessed to, been charged with, or convicted of sexual crimes. It's time we Southern Baptists create a database to track sexual predators in our midst. Excuses are no longer acceptable. Get it done. It's time Executive Committee of the SBC. No more excuses. Just get it done.


Gene S said...


You are right on target with this and it is awful!

I was at SEBTS 1967-70. It was a different place and atmosphere. We were there to get an education and most of us served in some church capacity. I roomed with a man in his early 50's and I was just out of Emory with a Psychology Degree. He had a family back home and was a great guy---except he snored terribly. I'll take that over being druged and molested by a pervert!

With the psychological outlook I possessed, I did not detect mental illness at SEBTS as I do now. Far too many of the students tend to personality worship of the President and Professors and they are loving it.

Many of the students there today are running from being challenged in their faith with a broad outlook of theological studies. Instead, many of them pretend perfection and talk about it as if there were certain things positions required to be a "good conservative preacher." It has become a one-sided place rather than a more broad spectrum of outlooks among Professors and students.

In my day there was never more than a theological centrist to conservative outlook in the faculty. The CR lie about corruption in seminaries was false and created to stir the masses to their political cause of takeover.

Now the psychological illiness I precieve would be most often designated as Reaction-Formation Psychosis. It is illness where the evil inside is covered with an extreme show on the outside of propriety. It is like the Old Maid who reports a man under her bed and peeking in her window. In reality, she wishes she had a man, but her "propriety" won't allow for her to simply admit such and enjoy a normal life.

The nature of the illness makes it hard to decipher because of the strong show. In biblical terms it is simply Hipocracy!

Jesus covered it in Matthew 23 as he described the Pharisees as "whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones." Jesus took a "common sense" route to his observations on human personality and religious pretense.

Sadly, when the true monster inside comes out, it is too late for those he has molested and used for sexual gratification. Keeping some database is based on "proven past crimes." What about the current pretense as, in churches, both clergy and laity live a hidden life of perversion?

On top of it all we are now having a great crusade against homosexuals. This only makes them hide it more deeply and get more slick in their cover.

The United Methodists vet their candidates for education and church assignment in a far better way. Not only do they administer basic psychological personality tests which detect insanity and duplicity, they constantly monitor their clergy under the powers of the Denomination and the District Superintendent.

They are not devoid of moral failure, but they deal with it far more efficiently. Therefore, they don't have the constant scandals we seem to be encountering over the last 20 years cited by Christa Brown whose website you link above.

Christa has gotten much heat for her advocacy. Her motivation comes from her own molestation as a teenage girl in a Baptist church.

Our national leadership has refused to deal with it saying, "We don't ordain our clergy except on a local level and we can't unordain them if they have a serious moral failure = EXCUSES!

Any legitimate failure could easily be addressed by the ordaining church! Having failed to do so results in Law Enforcement taking over duties which should and could be assumed by the Denomination and local churches.

Turning your head simply allows immorality to continue.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Wade,
you have listed three incidences since 2006 at SEBTS. Do you have any stats for the other seminaries?
Do you feel that SEBTS is being targeted for some reaon? Yes, I know that even one incidence is one too many, especially on a Christian Campus.
Perhaps these people enrolled in a Christian institution because they believed that it would help them overcome their inapproapriate (sinful) desires. I can only imagine the turmoil that must exist in a person's life who stuggles with such issues.
A sexual database may protect future victims. However, it would label that person for the rest of his/her life. I just wish there was a better way.

shadowspring said...

Pastor Burleson,

I appreciate your open reproach of the practice of wanting to minimize and/or overlook entirely the sexual offenders in the church. It seems to me that any honest pastor would want to point out the wolves among the sheep so that other flocks would be on the alert. Thank you for that.

I also appreciate your open rebuke of the blatant misogyny that is rampant in the evangelical world today. It is highly commendable.

Wade Burleson said...


You write: "A sexual database may protect future victims. However, it would label that person for the rest of his/her life. I just wish there was a better way."

I am more concerned with the future victims than I am with a permanent label on a perpetrator. I am discipling a young man who will forever be known by the law as a sexual offender. He must register UNTIL HE DIES as a sexual offender in any community in which he lives. I am teaching him that his identity is in Christ, but he should never resist, never regret, and never refuse to REGISTER as a sexual offender. So, I have little sympathy for your concern that someone will live with a label. I am working with people who have labels and showing them how to live with them.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Wade,
On one thing we both agree.We should take whatever steps necessary to stop the actions of predators and protect the innocent. I must say, though, that I am a little troubled by your lack of sympathy. In my mind to withhold sympathy is a subtle form of judgment. Would you likewise withhold sympathy from a teenager who is struggling with his/her sexual identity? Perhaps we should just tattoo a scarlet "P" on their forehead. Or maybe we could take a more biblical approach and force them to walk around and shout "Unclean".
Bro. Wade, there are no easy answers and I do appreciate you for taking the lead in trying to get something done.

Jamie said...

While I agree that a database is needed, how would it have prevented any of these cases? If they aren't registered until something happens, then there will always be the first strike.

The database should be compiled and required for the prevention of future issues. But there still remains the likelihood of an initial incident. How would you propose that be addressed?

We need something proactive to dovetail with the reactive piece (database).

Debbie Kaufman said...

Anonymous: What you don't seem to get is that the perpetrator killed someone. Oh not as in they can't breathe. But they did kill who that person once was. The victim in this case and in any case is no longer the same.

I corresponded with William Bush several times before this incident, so I was shocked that he would do this and I am grieving for what he has done, but I am not grieving for him, but for the young man whose life will never be the same and will now have to work through some tough stuff. Oh he may come out of this alright, with counseling, but he will not be the same young man that he was before this happened. William Bush killed part of this young man.

I must admit your comments have angered me a great deal so perhaps I should wait to say all of this, but I do my best communicating when I am angry.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive me, the intent of my post was not to cause you or anyone else pain or anger. My deisre was to engage in open and honest dabate about a very emotion laden subject. Whereas, you may do your best communicating while angry, it has been my experience, in general, that people are rarely rational while angry. I wonder if you would feel the same disdain for a Son or Daughter who struggled with such issues. As I stated before, there are no easy answers. I have attended far to many funerals of young men who believed suicide to be the only answer.

Gene S said...

Let's discuss the need for churches to be more careful on who they odain and be willing to un-ordain those who are not walking the same as they are talking!

Let's also discuss the fear of too many pastors to confront this kind of issue and deal with it quickly.

Too many are helping them find another place and keeping their mouths shut---lest they have troubles rather than a raise.

Many of these people are quite attractive on the outside and hard to discipline without having the church members thrilled with attention scraming "foul."

Paul Burleson said...


I'm afraid you're right. I'm wondering if for some leaders appearance might be more important than reality because ultimately appearance is, in its own way, a fulfillment of aspiration. So the appearance must be protected at all cost.

Marc B. said...

Hi Wade,

Thanks for bringing attention to this. I am so deeply disappointed and saddened and just trying to sift through everything. I did not know William personally, but was a frequent reader of his blog and enjoyed his writing and agreed with a lot of his theology. I can't help but see all sides of this. Part of me is angry and feels betrayed. The other part wonders if I had gone down a certain path would I end up like him? Yet another part recalls the story of David and Uriah. I have no idea of his personal history. Please know I am not trying to make excuses for him or draw sympathy. I believe there are degrees of sinfulness and IMO the degree goes up for sins that are committed against other people. I think we should wait until all the facts come out before passing judgment. William should be given a fair trial and receive whatever punishment and/or discipline is warranted based on the outcome. As an abuse victim myself, my heart and prayers go out to the victim and his family. Ultimately, for me, this is not about sympathy, but how it all affects God's Kingdom. I know and submit to the mystery of God's plan, that somehow He will use all of this for His Kingdom and glory.

Anonymous said...

Q - Hey Brother did you study scripture today in preparation for Sundays sermon?

A - Nope,I spent the day googling the latest sexual tragedy within our convention so I could post a witty blog to show others I am current with the bad news of the SBC.

Q - Great pastor, I wish more pastors were as sharp as you and could do all that and still preach divine sermons. Are you especially blessed?

A - Nope, I'm doubly honored.

Q - Yahoo,like that! Pastor, do you think anything like this could ever happen to you?

A - Nope, I'm not in seminary any more. Didn't happen when I was there and can't happen now?

Q - Glory be, Praise Jesus! One last question: Would you let any of these three men you write about become members of this church without having them under a microscope at all times.

A - Of course we would welcome them but we would make sure every member knew their sexual perverted history. We would print that data base sheet from the GBC / SBC, when they get it so all our people would know who to keep their kids away from. I know they would feel welcome, at least from me when we are not near any kids. ;-)

Wade Burleson said...


Why dear pastor (for only pastors would ever call me "Brother") do you wish to remain anonymous?

Have you ever heard of Internet Protocol Addresses.


Jeannette Altes said...


Thank you for this. There is a blog site you might be interested in. The author, sadly, lost her fight with cancer a couple of years ago, but her siblings are keeping the site open because of the volume of information. It is called Because It Matters.

You call to the SBC to start dealing with this issue reminded me of her. :-)

Anonymous said...

"Why dear pastor (for only pastors would ever call me "Brother") do you wish to remain anonymous?"

For the fun of it.

"Have you ever heard of Internet Protocol Addresses."

Absolutely. I have heard of a lot of things which are telling.


Me too.

Anonymous said...

Several observations:

1. Birch claims to have repented, if so, he seems to be a brother in Christ so I must pray for him

2. I assume that there will be some type of sentence that will be handed down--if so, he cannot imagine the hell that awaits him in prison. We must pray that God will give him strength as a christian to endure with godliness

3.Now, how in the world is Mr. Birch ever allowed to serve in ANY capacity ever again? Not sure that he can given the circumstance as I understand them (no, not even as a SS Teacher due to the ramifications which might come up at some point)

4. We must also remember to pray for the one who was assaulted and pray that he too would act with grace

5. We must all see our sin in this and remember that--"if not for the grace of God, there go I"

Truly a tragic reminder of our fallen nature.

By His Grace,


Romans 5:1

Anonymous said...

Gene S;

My wife and I attended SEBTS in 1984-1988. This was the final years prior to the beginning of control by the more conservative elements and things may well have changed since the time when you attended.

1. "Far too many of the students tend to personality worship of the President and Professors and they are loving it."

2. "It has become a one-sided place rather than a more broad spectrum of outlooks among Professors and students."

1. I think that students (particularly younger students) often tend to idolize their instructors and we witnessed some "graders" and student-helpers literally laughing at Bible stories as they led us to prepare for exams in special study sessions. They were totally enamored and idolizing their very liberal-minded instructors. Others defended the liberal seminary leaders by attacking the new SBC Conservative leaders like the time that the then SBC President, Charles Stanley visited campus. One student stood up in a forum and told Stanley that he was a man being led by the forces of darkness. It was an ugly thing to witness but I think that student would have drunk poisoned kool-aid if Seminary President Lolly had told him too!

2. Even though I hated to see the ugliness of the fight to wrestle control of things from one faction to the other, I'm REALLY glad that it took place at Southeastern. My wife and I found things to be at least "lop-sided" if not "one-sided" in favor of the strong liberal perspective.

There were often blatant portrayals of God's Word as being exaggerated and sometimes baseless. Praise God that there were some professors there who did take a position of the Word being true and factual but too many didn't. I recall one lady-student actually crying who said in a study session, "I just don't know what to believe anymore!"

We have not attended since Dr. Akin has been leading it (Have you? Maybe so.) so cannot speak from a first-hand experience about today but our impression is that it is passionate about equipping students to believe and trust in the Word of God and to proclaim it with intensity.

I'm sure that it tends to be "lop-sided or one-sided" in that regard these days but I'm glad.

Anonymous said...

"4. We must also remember to pray for the one who was assaulted and pray that he too would act with grace

Perhaps you might have the grace to allow him to heal both physically and mentally before you start heaping more guilt on him.


Anonymous said...


There was nothing intended to make the one offend more "guilty" the fact is that we need to pray that he would handle this with grace--as in NOT IN A SINFUL MANNER

Grace to you as well!


Romans 12:1-2

Gene S said...


Let me share with you a recent conversation I had with the aunt and uncle of a current student.

There is now a Professor at SEBTS who claims taking a contraception pill is the same as abortion!

This young couple is so stupid they believe him and are now risking a child they cannot afford on a student's poverty lifestyle.

What amazes me is that any student at a graduate level worships any President or Professor at any school. While I don't doubt your story, I do doubt that Lolley or any Faculty Member asked for such "personality worship." It definitely changed when Patterson assumed the presidency of SEBTS.

What you are citing bespeaks immaturity and the loss of the ability to think for yourself. In my day we were required to examine all sides of any theological issue and then end the paper with our assessment and reasoned approach to "why I choose my own position."

That is real education over indoctrination.

Mike Frost said...

"I do doubt that Lolley or any Faculty Member asked for such "personality worship"

Is there anyevidence the current leadership "asked" to be worshipped?

"In my day we were required to examine all sides of any theological issue and then end the paper with our assessment and reasoned approach to "why I choose my own position.""

I showed this to my pastor and he shared with me that the end was never to be "our own position" but what the bible states, teaches or is witness of. I like the idea of choosing the bible over a man's position.

Joel said...

Gene, with all due respect, you really don't know a thing about what you're saying. I attend SEBTS. I do not worship any professors, nor is it encouraged. Sadly, many younger students do become enamored with professors, but that is actually discouraged here by the faculty. (This happens no matter where you go).

As for being "one-sided," I've written papers over how church autonomy is bogus, how we actually partake in the flesh and blood of Christ in His Supper (though not via transubstantiation), over how it's possible that some aspects of the Bible could be wrong via our translation methods, etc., and I've received As on all my papers. I haven't been reprimanded once. I haven't been reported.

Rather, the professors have encouraged me to continue to think for myself and to explore these issues. In fact, you can't take a Bible class without having to study all sides of the issue.

What I will say it this - because of your bias and ignorance you're insulting some very well-respected theologians (such as Kostenburger) who even in their own writings consider alternative points of view.

Finally, this utopian dream-place you describe never existed. SEBTS used to be tilted to the left with students attempting to worshiping liberal professors. Now it's tilted to the right with students wanting to worship conservative professors.

Stop getting your information from the aunt of a student and actually listen to the students.

Anonymous said...

I just want to encourage you to confess deep secret sins of your own heart. Why do you expose him more if he he ceased confessed and was exposed judged by hundreds of people who have yet confess secret demons they cling to. Does not bible say you'll be put to shame as says God will deal with it all. Read isaiah 66. And does not bible say 1 Corinthians 6??? Be careful continue judge expose another. Have u confessed any secrets in it own heart less a prophet comes expose u same way. These men have been judged under wrath of religious folk and man's law. Perhaps u don't need increase it more. Focus confess all it own sins and get others do same. Focus obey Lord in war he has for you.