Pastor Matthew Queen charged with obstructing DOJ, FBI investigation of SBC

Former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary evangelism professor Matt Queen, is currently pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C.
Former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary evangelism professor Matt Queen, is currently pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C. | YouTube/ Friendly Avenue Baptist Church

The Department of Justice has charged former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary evangelism professor and provost Matthew Queen with falsifying records connected to its investigation of allegations that leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention intimidated whistleblowers and exonerated churches with credible claims of negligence of sexual abuse victims.

Queen, 49, is the pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is charged with one count of falsification of records, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, officials said.

The charge against Queen comes nearly two years after the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation into the SBC and its affiliate entities following the release of a Guidepost Solutions report showing leaders failed to protect victims of abuse.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

"As alleged, Matthew Queen attempted to interfere with a federal grand jury investigation by creating false notes in an attempt to corroborate his own lies," said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams in a statement Tuesday.

"The criminal obstruction charge announced today should exemplify the seriousness of attempts by any individual to manipulate or interfere with a federal investigation."

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said in a statement Tuesday that after the seminary learned of Queen's conduct in June 2023, "he was immediately placed on administrative leave and resigned as interim provost."

"All employees alleged to have acted improperly in this matter are no longer employed by the seminary," the seminary stated. 

The incident stems from a November 2022 report of an alleged sexual abuse committed by a Texas Baptist College student, the seminary said, adding that it helped facilitate the arrest of the student who later withdrew from the college. 

In October 2022, the Justice Department issued a grand jury subpoena to the seminary, requiring the production of all documents in the seminary's possession related to allegations of sexual abuse against anyone employed by or associated with the seminary, among other things.

In November 2022, the DOJ noted that a seminary employee identified as Employee-1, received a report alleging that a current seminary student committed sexual abuse. The employee notified campus police and no further action was taken. The allegation was not reported to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Employee-1 reportedly documented the allegation in January 2023, along with the seminary's failed response. On Jan. 26, 2023, Employee-1 then met with Queen and another executive staff member of the seminary identified as Employee-2, prosecutors say. 

"During that meeting, and in QUEEN's presence, Employee-2 directed Employee-1, in sum and substance, to destroy the document," the Justice Department's statement contends. 

In May 2023, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI interviewed Queen, who "falsely stated that he had not heard Employee-2 direct Employee-1 to destroy the document."

Three days after his interview with investigators, Queen told another seminary employee, identified as Employee-3, that he found a notebook in his office with contemporaneous notes of the Jan. 26, 2023, meeting. 

"The notes falsely stated that during the January 26, 2023, meeting, Employee-2, and Employee-1 merely discussed providing the Document to a different department at the Seminary and omitted the fact that Employee-2 had directed Employee-1 to destroy the Document. Queen provided the falsified notes to Employee-2 to produce in response to the grand jury subpoena," the DOJ said.

Authorities say Queen made other false declarations to investigators about the meeting until June 21, 2023, when he "testified under oath that he had in fact heard Employee-2 direct Employee-1 to make the document 'go away.'"

SWBTS said in its statement that when the institution "became aware of the original report and the later responses of certain staff, the seminary disclosed the matter to the Department of Justice, as required by a DOJ subpoena."

"The seminary has repeatedly informed staff of their duty to fulfill the obligations of the subpoena," the statement reads. "The seminary has and will continue to cooperate fully with the DOJ in its investigation of sexual abuse."

The Guidepost report released in May 2022 alleged that for the last two decades, the SBC sought to protect the interests of the denomination above alleged sexual abuse victims even as they fielded credible claims of abuse.

These claims include one made against former SBC President Johnny Hunt, who was accused of sexually assaulting another pastor's wife while on a beach vacation in Panama City, Florida.

"Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC's response to these reports of abuse. They closely guarded information about abuse allegations and lawsuits, which were not shared with EC Trustees, and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations," Guidepost Solutions investigators wrote in their 288-page report to the denomination's Sexual Abuse Task Force.

"In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy – even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation," investigators added.

Investigators found that the SBC Executive Committee's response to sexual abuse allegations over the years was largely driven by senior members of the committee, particularly D. August "Augie" Boto, who served as EC General Counsel and later Interim EC President, as well as the SBC's long-serving outside counsel, James Guenther, James Jordan and the firm of Guenther, Jordan & Price. Their focus was on shielding the denomination from liability.

Investigators cited a May 2019 email from former EC Vice President Roger "Sing" Oldham to Ronnie Floyd, the then-EC president, acknowledging that "[f]or the past decade, I have been regularly sending Augie news reports of Baptist ministers who are arrested for sexual abuse, for his awareness."

Boto noted: "Yes. We are collecting them, and may even post them in some way, but we'd have to really examine the potential liabilities that would stem therefrom."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.