Please read the following direct quotes from the Investigative Team:
"One witness would not agree to be interviewed except in a group setting. Ultimately, the Team felt that asking the questions it wished to ask could not be done properly and confidentially in such a group setting, and therefore, the Team decided not to interview this individual. Although the individual was a significant witness, the Team felt that the information this witness might have offered basically was corroborative of what other witnesses had stated. The absence of this interview was not a problem for the investigation."
"The first to come forward with any concerns about Paul Williams being allowed to work on the staff at Bellevue Baptist Church was Paul's son and two of his son's friends who came to Pastor Gaines on December 7, 2006."
"Although there is no excuse, there is an explanation which leads to the recommendation noted above. The Pastor stated that he had never dealt with an incident of this type before. Further, there were no policies and procedures in place that he had been trained to follow. In the past, the circle of information on any problems of a sensitive nature in the church was kept very tight to protect the families of the individuals and to protect the church from embarrassment. There has been a feeling that policy and procedures of this type were more suitable for the world than for the church. This feeling is not only found in Bellevue Baptist Church, but also is prevalent across churches in general. The events relating to the Paul Williams issue have vividly brought to light the need for change."
1. The unidentified "significant witness" mentioned was the most significant witness.
2. While the "group setting" mentioned would not have included legal counsel, it would have included all parties with firsthand information. This was to provide the church with information they needed before starting the "official" internal investigation. It would also have provided the opportunity to request that Steve Gaines make it clear in any subsequent public statement that the previous administration had no knowledge of the situation and to try to lessen the negative effect the announcement would have on the Williams family. This request was denied.
3. The unidentified "significant witness" would have offered information that was NOT corroborative of what other witnesses stated and would have changed the context of the committee's report. Significant information was provided in a meeting on January 11, 2007 which was not included in the report.
4. The December 7, 2006 date refers to the date of an actual meeting in which this issue was finally discussed, but the implication in the December 17th announcement to the congregation was that Steve Gaines was unaware until just a couple of weeks before that there were any "unresolved" issues remaining. In reality, this had been brought to Steve Gaines' attention several weeks prior to this meeting, as requests for a meeting had been made (and apparently denied) for some time prior to December 7th.
5. The "policies and procedures" as mandated by Scripture are sufficient to provide guidance to even the most inexperienced layman and should certainly have been sufficient for a Pastor with a Doctorate in Theology.
6. The "circle of information on any problems of a sensitive nature in the church" is apparently tighter now than it has ever been.
7. The idea that this tight circle was designed "to protect the families of the individuals and to protect the church from embarrassment" could not be a more inaccurate statement of fact. The clear intent has been to protect the administration and leadership.
8. The events that have "vividly brought to light the need for change" have to date produced absolutely no change and in fact continually magnify the resistance to any change relating to transparency.
Thanks to "ICU Nurse" for these comments which inspired this topic idea. Some editing by NBBCOF.
Both reports are available here.