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Gateway Church pastor Robert Morris accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old in the 1980s

Founder of Southlake church accused of sexual abuse
Founder of Southlake church accused of sexual abuse 02:09

SOUTHLAKE – Robert Morris, the founder and pastor of Gateway Church, is being accused of sexually assaulting a child in the 1980s.

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

The woman, Cindy Clemishireclaims Morris sexually assaulted her starting in 1982 when she was 12. Morris was a traveling Evangelist in his early 20s and had become close with her family. 

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.

Clemishire told The Wartburg Watch the alleged abuse continued until 1987. 

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."

According to a statement posted on social media from elders at the church, the allegations were brought to light 35 years ago. 

After that, he stepped away from ministry for two years to receive counseling. He acknowledged in a sermon in 2014 that he was "sexually immoral" when he was a teenager. 

He returned to ministry in March of 1989, two years after his abuse was exposed, he says with blessing from the girl's father and church elders. 

He further noted that he and his wife met with the survivor and her family in October 1989. 

Morris has already announced plans to turn leadership of Gateway Church over to his son James Morris next year, according to a bio on the church's website, but Morris plans to continue giving some sermons.

As of Monday morning, there was no indication Morris had stepped down from his position. 

CBS News Texas has reached out to the church for additional comment. 

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