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Robert Morris Resigns from Gateway Following Past Abuse Allegations

While the Texas megachurch said it “did not have all the facts” about Morris’s earlier misconduct, the woman who spoke out said she had informed its leaders years ago.
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Robert Morris Resigns from Gateway Following Past Abuse Allegations
Image: Gateway Church
Robert Morris

Gateway Church founder and senior pastor Robert Morris has resigned, and his Texas megachurch is launching an investigation into allegations of abuse from 35 years ago.

Morris—a former advisor to President Trump and leader of one of the largest nondenominational churches in the country—is leaving after an Oklahoma woman, Cindy Clemishire, shared a story of being molested by the pastor when she was a minor in the 1980s. He has led the congregation since 2000.

In a statement Tuesday announcing Morris’s resignation, Gateway’s board of elders said they were “heartbroken and appalled” to learn that what they believed was an extramarital relationship was allegedly abuse of a child, The Christian Post reported.

“Regretfully, prior to Friday, June 14, the elders did not have all the facts of the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the length of the abuse,” they said. “The elders’ prior understanding was that Morris’s extramarital relationship, which he had discussed many times throughout his ministry, was with ‘a young lady’ and not abuse of a 12-year-old child.”

The elders had initially responded on Friday saying Morris had already disclosed what happened and “undergone restoration.” The pastor’s earlier statement to The Christian Post referred to the incident as “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady.”

In a statement released Tuesday, Clemishire said she had been working for years to have Morris held accountable, including notifying the church of her story in 2005. She said at the time at least one pastor and one elder had been informed that the abuse started when she was 12.

Clemishire said the news of Morris’s resignation brought “mixed thoughts and feelings”—she believes he should have been terminated.

“Though we are called to forgive those who hurt us … we should expect and demand consequences,” she wrote.

The church has hired a law firm to conduct a review of Clemishire’s account from the 1980s. A spokesperson for Haynes & Boone, LLP, confirmed to CT that the firm “has been engaged to conduct an independent investigation.”

“Even though it occurred many years before Gateway was established, as leaders of the church, we regret that we did not have the information that we now have,” the elders said. “We are heartbroken and appalled by what has come to light over the past few days, and we express our deep sympathy to the victim and her family.”

“For the sake of the victim, we are thankful this situation has been exposed. We know many have been affected by this, we understand that you are hurting, and we are very sorry. It is our prayer that, in time, healing for all those affected can occur.”

Clemishire wrote that she and her attorney, Boz Tchividjian, want to see the scope of the review expanded in case there are more incidents. She told any potential fellow victims that they “will not walk this journey alone” and she hopes Gateway leadership will take this as “an opportunity to find the truth while providing help and restitution.”

“To the congregation of Gateway Church and the countless who have followed Robert Morris online, my heart is equally broken for you,” her statement read. “Please remember our faith is in Jesus, not an institution or a man in the pulpit. Keep your faith!”

The church did not bring up the allegations during last weekend’s services, where Morris was not scheduled to preach, and it has not posted about his resignation publicly on its website or on social media.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

July/August
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