Motion filed to unseal documents involving prior First Baptist Church sex abuse

Motion filed to unseal documents involving prior First Baptist Church sex abuse

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A popular Columbia church is at the center of a lawsuit claiming sex abuse - again.

The attorneys behind the lawsuit say they're hoping to unseal documents in a previous civil lawsuit case from years ago. Among many allegations is that the church did not notify the police department about on-going sex abuse happening in the church.

The church is no stranger to child sex assault allegations: in 2002, the church was sued after a man was convicted of abusing a minor more than once at First Baptist Church.

The attorney behind this lawsuit, John Simmons, says he's filed a motion to uncover the details in that case that he calls a cover-up. The lawsuit also names the church and several staff members, including their now-retiring pastor.

The lawsuit quotes some very graphic and disturbing text messages that a former volunteer supposedly sent to a young boy. Like this exchange "Mmm are you sweaty? "Be there in 10. Have the lube ready."  Or this "I wish we were the same age."

Now the attorneys behind the lawsuit filed a motion to unseal court records from a previous lawsuit in 2002. The attorneys want to expose the church's "pattern of concealing abuse."

The previous lawsuit was against First Baptist Church and former deacon John Hubner. Hubner was convicted of child sex abuse and prior to his work with the church was a convicted sex offender in the state of Maine.

His parole hearing is tentatively scheduled for February 2018. This does not mean that he will be granted parole. In fact, he has already been rejected parole six times.

The church released this statement saying, "Last fall First Baptist Church became aware of allegations of inappropriate conduct by an unpaid volunteer in the student ministries department. As church policy dictates, the appropriate committee investigated. The committee concluded the volunteer violated church policies. Disciplinary action was taken.The volunteer no longer attends First Baptist Church and was prohibited from further contact with our students."

Simmons released a statement to WIS on Monday saying, "We hope the motions to unseal records that have been kept secret for over 10 years, together with the lawsuit, will bring transparency to the cloak of secrecy imposed by the defendants."

We reached back out to the church Monday for further comment and they declined. We did check with Columbia Police Department and SLED who had no incident reports to provide us showing that anything was reported to the police.

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