A Florida pastor with a history of sexual misconduct allegations is once again preaching in the pulpit, upsetting members who point to his three-year prison sentence in 2009 for sexually molesting two girls.
The Rev. Darrell Gilyard, a registered sex offender in the Sunshine State, just became the new pastor of Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Jacksonville, according to the local news.
At one time a rising star, the protege of former Southern Baptist Convention President Paige Patterson is now riddled with a history of sexual misconduct allegations from hundreds of women from previous churches he’s led in Texas and Oklahoma, dating back to the 90s, Christian Post reports.
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“God doesn’t need predators in the pulpit, no matter how great a speaker or the truth of God’s word being spoken,” Tiffany Thigpen Kilgannon, who said she was a victim, wrote on the church’s Facebook page.
“Please keep your young girls and ladies safe. It is a painful thing to recover from, give them the gift of safety,” she added.
But some members support Gilyard, despite the history of repeated allegations going back decades.
“I was certainly disappointed, but I prayed about it like I try to do about everything, and I forgave him,” James Andrews told News4Jax.
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Prior to his arrest, Gilyard was forced to resign from a Dallas-area church after he confessed to some allegations in 1991, and Gilyard defended himself against multiple civil suits, including one that he eventually settled — a grieving widow who accused him of raping and impregnating her during counseling sessions, according to Florida and federal court records.
Gilyard, in video obtained by an investigation by the Houston Chronicle, said he saw himself as “vindicated” but he did apologize for misconduct.
“I stand before you tonight a broken man to confess that in the past I have sinned against God, against my family and before you,” he said.
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The controversial pastor, who is able to work at the church as a registered sex offender because he is not on probation, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, believes he has changed.
“Of course I believe I have changed. But time will tell everyone if I have changed,” Gilyard told First Coast News in 2014. “I’m a believer in when you do something wrong, you pay the price. But do you pay the price forever?”