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

Paul Pressler
Paul Pressler | Screenshot: YouTube

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

Gerald Duane Rollins, Jr.’s lawsuit against the 93-year-old Pressler and other entities within the SBC concluded 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 controversy between Plaintiff and all Defendants have concluded,” stated Judge R.A. Sandill of the 127th Judicial District Court.

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

The details of the settlement have not been made public.

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

“However, several factors ultimately made settlement the more prudent choice,” said the two Convention entities, as quoted by BP.

“Chief among those factors was the horrendous nature of the abuse allegations, the likelihood that counsel for the SBC and Executive Committee would have to confront and cross-examine abuse survivors, the Executive Committee’s current financial condition, and the willingness of multiple insurance carriers to contribute to the terms of the settlement.”

Pressler, a former state judge, was notable for his involvement in the SBC Conservative Resurgence, 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 having raped him several times over two decades starting in the 1980s when Rollins was attending 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 these parties were liable due to their connections to Pressler.

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

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

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