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Texas megachurch founder's previous disclosure of "extramarital affair" scrutinized after sexual assault accusation

Gateway Church scrutinizes former pastor Robert Morris' account after sexual assault accusation
Gateway Church scrutinizes former pastor Robert Morris' account after sexual assault accusation 03:00

SOUTHLAKE — "Shocked, devastated, and grieving," is how a Gateway Church elder reacted to accusations that church founder Robert Morris allegedly sexually abused a child decades ago. The church hired a law firm to investigate what happened. 

On June 22, the North Texas megachurch directly addressed for the first time the allegations made by Cindy Clemishire, the woman who publicly accused Morris of abusing her as a child.

Morris admitted to "an inappropriate sexual relationship with a young lady,"resigned from his position as senior pastor at the church and had his programming pulled from Daystar Television.

In a 2017 interview, Morris addressed the importance of honesty, saying, "If you start covering up again, that's where it stops. That's the biggest thing you have to worry about."

But Morris' own accounts of his own past failures are now in question.

Church elders said Morris disclosed to them he'd had an extramarital affair, not that he had allegedly abused a 12-year-old.

Morris and the church have also claimed he underwent "a two-year restoration process" that included him "stepping out of the ministry during that period".

In his book, From Dream to Destiny, he wrote, "the lord orchestrated the circumstances for me to step out of ministry" in order to humble his growing pride but that "after a month of working nights as a security guard at Motel 6" he took a job as morning supervisor at a ministry prayer center.

Partially redacted e-mails released by Clemishire's attorney show nearly two decades later in 2005 she reached out to Morris, writing, "You have had almost no consequences for your actions. I have suffered almost my entire life from the emotional damage you inflicted on me... I want some type of restitution."

In response, an e-mail from what appears to be Morris' account reads, "If you desire to make this public, I am also willing to do so..."

But it warns, "My attorney advises that if I pay you any money under a threat of exposure, you could be criminally prosecuted and Debbie and I do not want that."

The Debbie who Morris refers to there is his wife of more than 40 years to whom he was married when this abuse allegedly occurred.

Their son James Morris is the church's associate senior pastor and is now the only one listed on Gateway's website in a position of senior leadership.

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