Robert Morris scandal: James Robison refutes claims he met victim's family, knew she was 12

Days after Robert Morris resigned from Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, televangelist James Robison refuted reports that he accompanied Morris to meet with the family of the woman who claims she was molested at age 12.

Robison, with his wife Betty at his side, addressed the allegations in a video posted on X late Friday. He vehemently denied any prior knowledge of the meetings between Morris and the victim's family or of the victim's age at the time of the abuse in the 1980s.

Morris, who resigned Tuesday from his megachurch attracting about 100,000 worshipers each week across its campuses, admitted to “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young woman” more than 35 years ago. Morris' confession followed allegations that he sexually abused Cindy Clemishire over multiple years, starting when she was just 12.

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“People have asked about my relationship with Robert… Some people claim that I was present when Robert met with the victim's family in 1987, and I knew the girl's age when these events took place. This is false.. . It is, in fact, a lie,” said Robison, the president of Life Outreach International.

The televangelist said the victim corrected the record after the initial news report. Robison stated that he has a statement from the victim's attorney claiming that he was not present at any meetings that Morris had with the victim's family. He also mentioned that he only found out about the victim's age after news reports surfaced last week.

“I was stunned,” he said. “I was aware that Robert had moral failings in his past. But I had no idea it was a crime involving a child. This is completely unacceptable. The way Robert handled it was absolutely wrong. It was wrong. Abuse of a child should not be tolerated. I would do anything to reach out to Cindy and her family and I pray for everyone who was hurt by those terrible events.”

In his 2011 book, Morris recalled how he began traveling with James Robison within a year of becoming a Christian. Morris said he later earned the title of associate evangelist at age 20. Morris added that he got a job with the Robison prayer center about a month after he stepped away from ministry in the 1980s because “the Lord orchestrated the circumstances for I step out of ministry.” He did not reveal the circumstances leading to the temporary departure from the ministry but admitted that he struggled with pride.

“After a month of working nights as a security guard at Motel 6, I felt like I had made great strides toward humility. I decided that maybe I was ready to return to ministry,” he wrote. “So I checked back with James Robison's ministry to see if they had any openings. I was happy to discover that they needed a morning supervisor in their prayer center, from 5 AM to 2 PM”

Clemishire first claimed to The Wartburg Clock that Morris began sexually abusing her on December 25, 1982, and continued for four and a half years. She confirmed those details with The Christian Post. She emphasized the severity of the abuse, which included inappropriate touching and penetration.

In a statement to CP before his resignation, Morris admitted to being involved in “inappropriate sexual conduct with a young lady in a home where I lived,” which continued for years. Saying it only involved “kissing and caressing and not intercourse”, he admitted he was wrong.

He claimed that the situation was exposed in 1987 and that he repented and stepped away from ministry roles to undergo counselling, claiming that he returned to ministry in 1989.

Clemishire pushed back on Morris' description of the events, saying she was only 12 when it started, that he touched every part of her body and even digitally penetrated her. She also denied that her father gave the blessing for Morris to return to ministry.

The Wartburg Watch previously reported that Robison accompanied Morris and his wife to Oklahoma to speak with Clemishire's father. The outlet corrected its reporting to clarify that Robison did not join the couple on that trip nor did he participate in any meeting Morris had with Clemishire or her family.

Clemishire said she retained an attorney in 2005 to file a civil lawsuit, but Morris' attorney suggested she brought the abuse on herself because she was “flirtatious.” She said she asked for $50,000 to cover the cost of her counseling stemming from the abuse. She said they offered her $25,000 if she signed a non-disclosure agreement, but she refused.

On Friday, the Gateway Church Board of Elders sent a letter to members dealing with the situation. The church reiterated its claim that it was not aware of Clemishire's age when the alleged abuse occurred and promised full cooperation as it hired a law firm to investigate Morris's conduct between 1982-1987.

“Unfortunately, prior to Friday, June 14, the current Elders did not have all the facts,” the letter reads. “The Board of Elders is deeply committed to walking in integrity and finding the truth. Having this investigation conducted by an independent and unbiased outside law firm is a best practice.”

In a statement released Tuesday night by her attorney, Clemishire claimed she informed Gateway leadership of the allegations in an email she sent in 2005 directly to Morris' email address. She stated that former Gateway senior Tom Lane responded to the email.

Richard Harmer, a representative of Lane, told The Dallas Morning News that Leno responded to one of Clemishire's emails but was only forwarded a specific message by Morris' assistant that did not include a reference to her age. Harmer stated that Lane never saw any other emails.

On Friday on social media, Lane posted a statement saying he was unaware of the “severity and specifics” of the allegations and was led to believe it involved consensual adultery with a “young woman.”

It was Lane's understanding at the time that Morris underwent a two-year restoration period overseen by the elders of Shady Grove Church in Grand Prairie. When Clemishire came forward in 2005, Lane believed that the necessary restorative actions had already taken place and the situation had been “properly resolved.”

“Given the facts that have now come to light, it is clear that more could have been done to support and protect Cindy, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” Lane said.


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