Settlement reached in SBC, Paul Pressler abuse lawsuit with alleged victim

A settlement was reached between famous Southern Baptist Convention lay leader Paul Pressler and a man who accused the influential figure of raping him several times decades ago.

The trial of Gerald Duane Rollins, Jr. against the 93-year-old Pressler and other entities within the SBC ended with a settlement and dismissal filed “with prejudice” by the plaintiff, according to The. Baptist Press.

“It appears to the Court that all matters in dispute between Plaintiff and all Defendants have concluded,” stated Judge RA Sandill of the 127th Judicial District Court.

“With all claims, counterclaims and controversies now resolved, the Court therefore finds that the Motion should be granted and the matter dismissed as to all parties.”

The details of the settlement have not been released.

The special counsel of the SBC and the SBC Executive Committee, both named defendants in the lawsuit, released a statement stating that they “were all fully prepared to proceed to trial.”

“However, several factors ultimately made compromise the more sensible option,” the two Convention entities said, as quoted by BP.

“Chief among those factors were the horrific nature of the allegations of abuse, the likelihood that SBC and Executive Committee counsel would have to confront and cross-examine survivors of abuse, the current financial state of the Executive Committee and the willingness of multiple insurers to . contribute to the terms of the settlement.”

Pressler, a former state judge, was notable for his involvement in the SBC Conservative Revival, a movement during the 1970s and 1980s that led to the removal of theological liberals and moderates from key leadership positions within the SBC. He was also a former SBC Executive Committee member.

Rollins filed the lawsuit in October 2017, accusing Pressler of raping him repeatedly over two decades starting in the 1980s when Rollins attended a Bible study at Pressler's church.

The lawsuit also named the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, its former president, Paige Patterson, and First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas, as defendants, alleging that those parties were liable because of their ties to Pressler.

Although Sandill dismissed the lawsuit in 2018 due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, an appeals court revived the suit in 2021 after Rollins was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as this extended the statute of limitations regarding the alleged abuse.

In April, SBC leader Paige Patterson and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who were both named as defendants in the original lawsuit, were dismissed from the lawsuit.

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