Texas pastor and ex-Trump adviser admits to "inappropriate sexual behavior" with a child

Gateway Church pastor Robert Morris was previously a member of Trump's Evangelical Executive Advisory Board

Published June 17, 2024 1:01PM (EDT)

Pastor Robert Morris (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
Pastor Robert Morris (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

The pastor of a megachurch in Dallas who previously served as a spiritual adviser to Donald Trump has admitted to “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a 12-year-old girl in the 1980s, according to a statement obtained by local ABC affiliate WFAA.

Last Friday,  “The Wartburg Watch" blog posted the account of Cindy Clemishire, who accused Gateway Church pastor and founder Robert Morris of molesting her when she was 12. The evangelical church is one of the largest in the U.S. and was founded by Morris in 2000.

Clemishire said the abuse lasted several years, from December 1982 until 1987.

On Sunday, Morris admitted to “inappropriate behavior with a young lady,” though he didn’t specify her name or age, according to WFAA.

“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," Morris said in the statement. "It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years."

The sexual abuse allegedly began while Morris, married and working as a traveling evangelist, was staying at the Clemishire’s family home in 1982. In 1987, he claimed, the situation was “brought to light and it was confessed and repented of."

At the request of Clemishire’s family, Morris stepped away from ministry for two years to undergo a “restoration process,” before returning in 1989.

Though the Clemishire family forgave Morris, they never supported his return to the church.

“I think leaders can get caught up and think it’s our responsibility to protect God and it’s not. Our responsibility is to protect the people. God is bigger than all of that,” Clemishire told WFAA.

In 2016, Morris was named a member of Trump's Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. In 2020, Trump appeared at Morris' church for a roundtable discussion on race and policing.

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