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Texas megachurch pastor Robert Morris resigns after

SOUTHLAKE – Robert Morris, the founder and senior pastor at Gateway Church in North Texas, resigned from his position on Tuesday after allegations of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in the 1980s recently came to light.

On Tuesday, the Board of Elders at Gateway Church, a multi-site megachurch based in Southlake, released a statement saying they accepted Morris’ resignation and plan to conduct a thorough “review of the report of past abuse to ensure we have a complete understanding of the events.” 

Morris allegedly had a sexual relationship with a minor between 1982 and 1987, when he was a traveling Evangelist in his early 20s. On June 14, Cindy Clemishire, whose parents had befriended Morris, publicly accused the pastor of repeatedly molesting her during that period. 

In the statement, the elders claim they did not have all the facts relating to the alleged sexual assault, including Clemishire’s age at the time and the length of the abuse.

“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 [the] abuse of a 12-year-old child,” the statement reads. “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 said she has mixed thoughts and feelings regarding Morris’ resignation and believes she is not the only victim.

“Though I am grateful that he is no longer a pastor at Gateway, I am disappointed that the Board of Elders allowed him to resign,” Clemishire wrote in a statement Tuesday. “He should have been terminated.”

Clemishire rebuked church elders for knowing and acknowledging her claims of sexual abuse, but intentionally embracing “the false narrative Robert Morris wanted them to believe.”

Morris founded the church’s first location in Southlake in 2000. The evangelical church, one of the largest in the U.S., has grown to nine campuses in North Texas.

The allegations against Morris were first published Friday by The Wartburg Watch, a North Carolina-based church watchdog blog. The Christian Post then picked up the story on Saturday.

In a statement to The Christian Post, Morris admitted to “inappropriate sexual behavior.”

“When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying,” he said. “It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years.”

In a sermon Morris gave 10 years ago, he discussed his sexual immorality as a teen.

“I learned to lie and manipulate because I also had rejection, I didn’t want to be rejected,” Morris said in 2014. “So I looked for the girls that would be the most susceptible. And I learned to spot that.”

The church elders said a law firm has been hired to conduct the review.

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