Preachers Accused of Sins, and Crimes

The Local Level

Frank Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a minister himself. He told "20/20" that independent congregations present a challenge when it comes to tracking preacher predators. The organization has yet to create a national database of preacher predators. "We have no such database and again, we encourage churches to investigate. … They have to do background checks," he said.

But this approach puts a lot of pressure on the individual church, and a lot of faith in the ministers who were predators to come forward and tell the truth about their past.

And the autonomy of each Baptist church does not stop them from creating other kinds of databases, from Baptism lists to lists of ordained ministers.

Some Baptist church leaders are concerned that even if a Baptist preacher is convicted of sex crimes, the national organization has no authority to act.

The Southern Baptist Convention said the biblical and best way to handle these terrible cases is by the local church, which should call the police. But former minister and sex offender Ken Ward stayed under the local radar and moved from church to church for years, and he said the church can't do it alone.

"Anybody could have talked to the churches I was with, and they would have praised me. They would not have said, 'Don't hire this guy, he likes kids.' Never, never, and I suspect that has not changed."

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