Lawyers for megachurch pastor and Trump advisor Robert Morris blame 12-year-old for ‘initiating’ sexual contact

Morris resigned in June after admitting to the incident which allegedly occurred on Christmas Day 1982

Mike Bedigan
New York
Tuesday 09 July 2024 20:21
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Gateway Church founder Robert Morris resigns

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Lawyers for Donald Trump’s former faith advisor Robert Morris accused a 12-year-old girl of initiating “inappropriate” sexual conduct with the ex-Dallas megachurch pastor, new documents have revealed.

Morris resigned in June after admitting to the incident. His accuser Cindy Clemishire previously claimed that the pastor had begun abusing her on Christmas Day in 1982.

Clemishire, now 52, said that Morris and his wife had been staying at her family home at the time when he asked her to come into his room, whereafter he told her to lay on his bed and then began touching her inappropriately.

She said the abuse had continued until 1987 when she told her parents.

However, 25 years after the incident, a lawyer for Morris – J Shelby Sharpe – claimed that it was the child who was actually to blame.

Morris resigned in June after admitting to the incident which allegedly occurred on Christmas Day 1982
Morris resigned in June after admitting to the incident which allegedly occurred on Christmas Day 1982 (AP)

“It was your client,” wrote Sharpe, in a letter obtained by NBC, “who initiated inappropriate behavior by coming into my client’s bedroom and getting in bed with him, which my client should not have allowed to happen.”

The letter, sent in February 2007, was one in a series of exchanges that year between Sharpe and Gentner Drummond, a lawyer who represented Clemishire at the time.

Clemishire recently revealed she had been seeking $50,000 in restitution from Morris to cover the cost of counseling. Morris had allegedly offered to pay $25,000, but the talks fell apart because she was not willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement, Clemishire said.

Sharpe told NBC News that he had no recollection of a $25,000 settlement offer or NDA demand and that he no longer represents Morris. He also denied to the outlet any knowledge that Clemishire had been a child at the time of the alleged incident.

In a statement put out before his resignation, Morris admitted the “inappropriate sexual behavior” but insisted that he had not had intercourse with the young girl.

“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. It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong,” he said.

The board previously said that they “did not have all of the facts of the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the length of the abuse.”

The Gateway megachurch, based in the Dallas suburb of Southlake, was founded by Morris in 2000
The Gateway megachurch, based in the Dallas suburb of Southlake, was founded by Morris in 2000 (WFAA / YouTube)

On June 18, Gateway Church’s board of elders announced they’d accepted the resignation from Morris, and that it had hired a law firm to conduct an independent review to make sure they “have a complete understanding of the events” from 1982 to 1987.

The board said they previously “did not have all of the facts of the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the length of the abuse.”

The Gateway megachurch, based in the Dallas suburb of Southlake, was founded by Morris in 2000 and has multiple locations in the area and says over 100,000 people attend each weekend.

Morris, the founding pastor, has been politically active. He was among those on former President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board. The Gateway Church hosted Trump on its Dallas campus in 2020 for a discussion on race relations and the economy.

Morris’ son, James Morris, is set to take over his senior pastor duties in 2025, according to the church’s website. The elder Morris will remain a primary speaker on weekends.

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