Guidepost Solutions found no evidence that Bryan Loritts was involved in a cover up concerning 2010 sexual abuse allegations against his then-brother-in-law at a church he previously pastored, according to a March 22 report.
The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., where Loritts now serves as executive pastor of teaching and development, released a statement Friday (March 26) and shared Guidepost’s full review of Loritts’ involvement in Fellowship Memphis Church’s response and of Summit’s own investigation into the allegations prior to hiring Loritts last June.
Guidepost said in its report that Loritts repeatedly acknowledged he should have immediately contacted law enforcement the day voyeuristic videos were found on Rick Trotter’s phone, which was hidden in a bathroom. Loritts told Guidepost he should have pushed the Memphis Police Department to investigate, should have explicitly told another church not to hire Trotter after he was fired from Fellowship, and that he should not have invited him to participate in a 2015 conference.
But based on interviews with Loritts and other individuals affiliated with Fellowship in 2010, Guidepost found “no conclusive evidence to believe that Loritts tried to influence any response by the church, law enforcement, or any other entity.”
Guidepost found “a number of errors of judgment were made, not only by Loritts … but by the many individuals at Fellowship who knew of the February 4, 2010 events and Trotter’s illicit actions. However, as a result of our investigation, we do not think the blame and responsibility for these errors can be placed solely on Loritts.”
Guidepost found Summit cooperative but with opportunities to be more transparent, saying staff did not proactively inform the firm of an audio recording of Loritts’ conversation with the Fellowship staff member who found Trotter’s phone.
Still, Guidepost believes Summit “pursued not only routine due diligence efforts, but also sought additional investigative help from a law firm and then ultimately from us.”
“In our view, based on our investigation here and our experience, Summit’s efforts are commensurate if not more rigorous with the vetting processes commonly undertaken by many religious organizations for jobs of this organizational leadership level,” Guidepost said.
Guidepost was unable to determine further information on what happened to Trotter’s phone and what Fellowship pastors were advised to do with it.
Summit hired Guidepost on Jan. 20 after conversations with the Caring Well team and “desiring to do everything possible to foster a culture in churches that is safe from abuse and safe for survivors.”
“We trust Bryan, believe he is qualified for ministry, and have confidence in him to lead at the highest levels,” Summit said in the March 26 statement.
“We are grateful for the level of clarity this report yielded. We also realize that learning to care for the wounded will be a continual journey. As a church and a leadership staff, we are committed to continuing to grow in understanding abuse, trauma, and abusive dynamics.”