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Cedarville U. president reinstated amid conflict over hiring, restoration of sex abuser

Cedarville U. president reinstated amid conflict over hiring, restoration of sex abuser

Cedarville University in Ohio | (PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/NYTTEND)

The president of a western Ohio Baptist liberal arts college has been reinstated after it emerged that he had hired someone for a faculty position with a known history of sexual abuse.

The Cedarville University Board of Trustees has reinstated Thomas White after having placed him on administrative leave since May 1 while it investigated his decision to hire Anthony Moore, who was previously ousted from his campus pastor job at The Village Church, a Fort Worth-area church led by Matt Chandler. Moore was brought on staff to be an assistant professor of theology and a special adviser to the president for Kingdom Diversity. Moore was fired from Cedarville University in April when it became known that he had engaged in sexually abusive behavior over an extended period of time. 

Moore had secretly used his iPhone, which he wrapped in a towel so that the lens stuck out, and positioned it in a window well above the shower to film an adult male youth pastor showering in Moore's home, according to a Tarrant County Sheriff's Office report that was filed in October 2018. The youth pastor, whose name has not been made public, opted not to press charges against Moore.

White noted on his personal blog post earlier this year that he did not have all the information about Moore's past and was under the impression that there were at most two videos, which happened over a short period of time. He admitted that he later learned that at least five illicit videos existed and that this abuse took place over the course of five months. Initially thinking that Moore's behavior was an isolated incident, White pursued a five-year path of restoration, a decision he said he regretted when he found out his behavior patterns were more extensive and not a one-off.

"I sincerely regret that this attempt at restoration will now result in personal pain for many. I want Cedarville to be a Gospel-centered community that seeks to model grace and truth," White said at the time.

In response to the fallout, the Baptist university hired the Husch Blackwell law firm to investigate the matter after White was placed on leave, and concluded that there is “no reason to question President White’s benevolent motivation” in hiring Moore. However, the firm also noted “it is reasonable to infer from the evidence available that President White took steps that he knew, or should have known, clouded the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct" and that White “subsequently failed to notify the Board of the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct.”

In response to White's reinstatement, two Cedarville University trustees — Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Mark Vroegop, who pastors College Park Church in Indianapolis — resigned in protest of the board's move.

In his resignation statement, Vroegop, who is a Cedarville graduate, said that the circumstances surrounding the hiring of Moore and the implementation of his restoration plan were "deeply troubling" and that the steps the trustees took were not sufficient given what the law firm's report found. Similarly, Akin called the hiring and restoration plan applied to Moore "deeply flawed" and the Husch Blackwell findings were "extremely troubling" and could not support the board's decision.

Cedarville University said in their statement reinstalling White that the university president would be required to complete courses on victim prevention and victim advocacy.

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