Thursday, May 3, 2018

This Paul Pressler Lawsuit looks VERY Serious

"But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Matthew 18:6

As anyone who's been paying attention to our Facebook page knows, we're in Houston; that makes now as good a time as any to address Houston-based topic that we've been putting off because it's icky.

In case you're not familiar with the Paul Pressler lawsuit, originally filed in December, here are the details:
The attorney for a Houston man accusing former Texas state judge and lawmaker Paul Pressler of sexual molestation tells The Texas Monitor he’s received calls from other people with similar allegations.

“I’m getting a lot of responses from a lot of people,” Daniel Shea told The Texas Monitor in an exclusive interview.

Shea said he plans to include those who agree to be named in a disclosure document listing people with knowledge of facts relevant to the case.

The suit from Gareld Duane Rollins filed in Harris County on Oct. 18 alleges that Pressler molested him repeatedly over the course of 35 years. He said he met Rollins as a teenager when he began attending First Baptist Church, where Pressler held volunteer leadership roles. The suit alleges that Pressler enrolled Rollins in Bible study and began molesting and raping him in his master bedroom study.

The suit also names Pressler’s wife, Nancy, his law partner Jared Woodfill, the First Baptist Church of Houston, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and its president, the Rev. Paige Patterson, claiming the others helped cover up the alleged molestations. Rollins seeks $1 million in damages.

A psychiatrist’s report included in the case file says Rollins suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from childhood sexual trauma.

Mark Lanier, an attorney representing Patterson and the seminary, filed a motion on Nov. 17 asking a judge to move the case to Tarrant County, the location of the seminary. That motion will be heard on Jan. 16.

“If any victims decide they want to be added to the suit that can be done,” Shea said.

Shea had strong words for the 87-year-old Pressler, calling his alleged molestations the “worst kept secret in Houston.” “He’s been very blatant and very careless over the years running after young boys and picking them up from these various church youth Bible study groups,” Shea said.
Pressler denies the charges.  He accuses the plaintiff of having credibility issues.  When the lawsuit was originally filed in December, we decided against jumping to conclusions and to keep an eye on the situation.

Which made sense, until three weeks ago:
An attorney who briefly worked for the Woodfill Law Firm says Paul Pressler invited him to join him naked in a hot tub, in an affidavit filed this week in federal court.

The affidavit was attached to a civil suit Gareld Duane Rollins has brought against the former judge and Texas state lawmaker, that accuses Pressler of raping and molesting him over 35 years. Pressler denies the claims.

There is a hearing on Monday that could move the case back to state court in Harris County.

In the affidavit, Brooks Schott, who now lives in Spokane, Washington, said he met Jared Woodfill, Pressler’s former law partner, while in his third year of law school at Willamette College of Law in Salem, Oregon. Schott said he visited Houston at the suggestion of his father, who had the occasion to preach at a church in The Woodlands, where Matt Woodfill, the brother of Jared Woodfill, served as pastor.

After a visit in March 2016, Jared Woodfill offered Schott a job after graduation. He took the Texas Bar Exam that July and began a clerkship at Woodfill Law Firm the next month. After receiving his passing score on the bar exam, Schott became a junior associate that November.

Schott said he was introduced to Pressler at a political event, and Pressler subsequently invited Schott to have lunch with him. Schott said he was wary of joining Pressler for lunch because he had previously been asked to make a copy of a settlement agreement between Pressler and Rollins.

Rollins and his mother, Margaret D. Duryea, sued Pressler over similar allegations in 2004 in Dallas County District Court, with Daniel Shea as their representative. That case was settled and the proceedings sealed. Shea is the plaintiff’s attorney in this case, as well.

Despite those reservations, Schott attended at the urging of Woodfill, the affidavit says. Schott said that Woodfill told him “Pressler was a ‘hero of the faith’ and a ‘great man.’”

Schott visited the then 85-year-old Pressler’s house to pick him up and says Pressler answered the door with no pants on, saying he was running late and had trouble dressing due to poor health. Schott says Pressler gave him a tour of his house, and after learning he had Danish ancestry, told a story about going swimming naked in Denmark with other young men in his younger days.

 There you have it.
One lesson we've learned, as these types of cases have come to light in the past year, is that the cases involving multiple accusers over many years who don't know each other tend to be true.  Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, and Harvey Weinstein all had multiple accusers over the course of many years.  Aziz Ansari did not.

Furthermore, this case hits close to home.  Our personal pastor is a Southwestern grad.  We've also met Woodfill on several occasions.   To be honest, we've been keeping a distance from him for the past two years because that guy already gave us the heebie-jeebies even before these accusations.

[Note: We've never met Pressler, nor had we even heard of him before this lawsuit.]

As for the first accusers' credibility issues: that's what predators do.  Predators often go after people who have credibility issues precisely because the predator knows they won't be believed.  But the first accusers alleged credibility issues can't account for the other accusers.

This doesn't look good, and sticking your head in the sand is kryptonite for the credibility of the Church's witness.

Bottom Line: Somebody involved with this case needs to REPENT before almighty God.  We strongly suspect it's the accused and his 'alleged' enablers.  But denial won't make the situation better.

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