Pastor of Texas Megachurch Reportedly Admits 'Inappropriate Sexual Behavior' After Woman Alleges Abuse from Age 12

Gateway Church senior pastor Robert Morris has been accused by a woman of molesting her when she was 12 years old, according to a local media outlet

<p>AP Photo/Alex Brandon</p> Robert Morris in 2020

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Robert Morris in 2020

Texas megachurch pastor Robert Morris has admitted he had “inappropriate sexual behavior" with a "young lady” in the 1980s, according to a statement from Morris obtained by local ABC affiliate WFAA.

The pastor's admission comes after a woman accused him of molesting her when she was 12 years old, per CNN.

Morris, who is a senior pastor, founded Gateway Church in the Dallas area of Texas in 2000, according to the church’s website. The church now has several locations across Dallas-Fort Worth.

Cindy Clemishire alleged to WFAA that the abuse started in 1982 and continued for five years until 1987 when she told her parents, per CNN. Morris did not admit to abusing Clemishire.

<p>AP Photo/Alex Brandon</p> Robert Morris in 2020

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Robert Morris in 2020

In his statement, Morris did not mention the name or age of the “young lady.” He said the “inappropriate sexual behavior” started in his “early twenties” and “in a home where I was staying.”

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

“In March of 1987, this situation was brought to light, and it was confessed and repented of,” he continued in the statement. “I submitted myself to the Elders of Shady Grove Church and the young lady’s father. They asked me to step out of ministry and receive counseling and freedom ministry, which I did. Since that time, I have walked in purity and accountability in this area.”

Morris added that he and his wife met with the young lady and her family in 1989, per CNN. “I asked their forgiveness, and they graciously forgave me,” he said.

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Clemishire told WFAA that her family forgave Morris, but they did not support him returning to the ministry.

Morris and a spokesperson for Gateway Church did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In a statement to WFAA, Gateway Church said Morris underwent a “lengthy restoration process.”

“Pastor Robert has been open and forthright about a moral failure he had over 35 years ago when he was in his twenties and prior to him starting Gateway Church,” the church said in the statement. “He has shared publicly from the pulpit the proper Biblical steps he took in his lengthy restoration process.”

“The two-year restoration process was closely administered by the Elders at Shady Grove Church and included him stepping out of the ministry during that period while receiving professional counseling and freedom ministry counseling,” the statement continued. “Since the resolution of the 35-year-old matter, there have been no other moral failures.”

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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