JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (ABP) – A former Baptist pastor just out of prison after serving three years for sexual abuse of children says he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of starting a new church.
“I’m not sure — I’m just praying about my options right now,” Darrell Gilyard told the Florida Times-Union when asked whether he might try to rebuild his ministry.
Gilyard, 49, pleaded guilty in 2009 to molesting a 15-year-old girl and sending lewd text messages to another. Released from prison Dec. 28, Gilyard told reporter Jeff Brumley that he takes responsibility for his wrongs but if past sins were disqualification for ministry some of the most inspiring Bible stories never would have made it into Scripture.
“Moses was a murderer, David was a murderer, Paul was a murderer and Peter denied Christ,” Gilyard said. “It’s clear God uses broken vessels.”
Amy Smith, Houston representative for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, warned that due to the nature of his offense, any prospective members of a church led by Gilyard would join at their own risk.
“Child molesters are extremely manipulative and cunning people who prey on the most vulnerable among us — children,” Smith said. “The nature of the compulsion of pedophilia is that abusers are often unable to resist future temptation, especially if they are around kids, which given a choice, they often are.”
Smith said it is common for serial child abusers to seek out jobs that give them access to children.
“The only prudent choice is to protect children at all costs by erring on the side of caution,” she said. “This is not a matter of punishment but of a public mandate to protect children.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.