Hannah-Kate Williams, a vocal advocate for the abused in religious communities, has filed several lawsuits against Southern Baptist organizations.
Williams gained attention in 2019 when she came forward about being abused by her pastor father at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention with eight other victims. This decision pushed her to the front of social media, with her voice lifting several victims to prominence. Now Williams has taken legal action by suing several Southern Baptist institutions.
Williams filed suit against the Southern Baptist entity, specifically the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where Her father previously worked. It also names Lifeway Christian Resources and the SBC Executive Committee as implicated in covering up said crimes. Williams also calls explicitly out the Executive Committee members Mike Stone and Rod Martin. The complaint alleges that the entities in question failed to investigate her reports, defamed her several times, and "conspired to protect the Baptist denomination from a problem of sexual abuse of minors or other vulnerable populations." Williams filed the lawsuit in the Franklin County Circuit Court.
Williams herself goes into explicit detail in the filing, noting how she was abused from age four until she left home at 16. When she attempted to report the assault at age 8 to various Southern Baptist leaders, she was dismissed and told that the officials were "praying for her." When her siblings' reports were brought to law enforcement, investigators were unwilling to submit the accounts due to inconsistencies among the siblings.
The filing also draws on recently released documents that are being used to support the claim that the Southern Baptist Convention emphasized protecting their own over safeguarding victims.
"I'm hoping all abusers will be exposed and brought to justice so they can find redemption, that survivors can receive restitution, and the vulnerable can be protected," Williams told Religion News Service.