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Gateway Church pastor Robert Morris resigns amid 1980s sexual abuse allegations

The new Gateway Southlake sanctuary.
Business Wire
The Beck Group
The new Gateway Southlake Church sanctuary. Gateway Church founding pastor Robert Morris has resigned after being accused of sexual abuse that allegedly occurred in the 1980s.

Gateway Church founding pastor Robert Morris has resigned days after he was accused of sexual abuse in the 1980s of a then 12-year-old girl.

A statement from the Board of Elders of Gateway Church said they accepted his resignation on Tuesday.

"Regretfully, prior to Friday, June 14, the elders did not have all the facts of the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the length of the abuse," the statement said. "The elders’ prior understanding was that Morris’s extramarital relationship, which he had discussed many times throughout his ministry, was with “a young lady” and not abuse of a 12-year-old child."

The allegations were first publicized Friday in the religious watchdog blog Wartburg Watch and later in The Christian Post.

An Oklahoma woman said Morris abused her on multiple occasions in both Oklahoma and Texas starting Christmas Day 1982 to 1987.

According to an internal statement sent to staff prior to his resignation, Morris stepped away from ministry work and went to counseling before returning two years later in 1989.

"Since that time, I have walked in purity and accountability in this area,” Morris said in the statement.

Morris started Gateway Church as a "a Bible-based, evangelistic, spirit-empowered church" in 2000. Gateway has several locations in North Texas, including Southlake, Grand Prairie, Plano, and Fort Worth.

In 2016, Morris was named as an executive board member to former President Donald Trump's Evangelical Executive Advisory Board while on the campaign trail.

Morris, along with other executive board members, were tasked with providing advisory support to Trump on issues important to Evangelicals and other people of faith in America.

Local politicians have spoken up about the allegations, including John Huffman, former mayor of Southlake. Gateway Church has a campus in Southlake.

"The scandal caused by the exposure of the sin committed by Pastor Robert Morris demands a response," Huffman said in a social media post. "If there’s one thing I’ve learned after two decades of executive leadership, it’s this: leaders should be held to a higher standard. Certain types of leaders, like pastors, should be held to the HIGHEST standard."

Texas Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, who represents Southlake, said he was "deeply troubled" by the allegations against Morris.

"His confession of criminal activity and moral failure is shocking and unacceptable," he said in a social media post.

Capriglione added that Morris should be held accountable for his actions.

The Gateway Church Board of Elders has retained Haynes & Boone, LLP to conduct an independent, thorough, and professional review of the sexual abuse report, according to their statement.

"We are heartbroken and appalled by what has come to light over the past few days, and we express our deep sympathy to the victim and her family," they said in the statement. "For the sake of the victim, we are thankful this situation has been exposed.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or visit the Online Hotline, y en español en

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Megan Cardona is a daily news reporter for KERA News. She was born and raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and previously worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.