(RNS)– Authorities in Madison, Wisconsin have advised that the Rev. Bob Stine, former president of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention, be charged with sexual attack; he will need to reply to concerns in court in September.
The office of the Dane County district attorney has reported that they are reviewing the case involving Stine, pastor of Midvale Baptist Church in Madison. To far, no formal charges have been brought.
“The DA’s Office has actually gotten the recommendation from the Madison Police Dept,” the DA’s office wrote in an email regarding Stine. “He is scheduled to make his First Appearance in Court on September 7 at 8:30 a.m.”
TV station WISC in Madison reports that authorities have investigated claims that Stine inappropriately touched children during a group visit to a state campground in 2021. Due to the findings of this investigation, the state Department of Children and Families revoked Midvale Baptist’s creche licence for Kid’s Best Child Care in late June.
According to a letter from DCF to the church, published online by WICS, “The Department has actually gotten reliable info that licensee Robert Stine is the subject of an examination, which has led to recommendation to the Dane County District Attorney’s office for criminal charges of sexual assault of a kid.” According to the Department, “these findings significantly relate to the care of children and have developed a condition that directly threatens the health, security, and well-being of children in care.”
It seems that the church’s creche facility was shut down in April. Stine and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Stine has been pastor at Midvale since 2007, and his bio on the church’s website states that he is a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary alum. He also served as president of the Baptist Student Union while he was a student there. This congregation is part of the Southern Baptist denomination.
Despite the investigation, the church has not removed Stine’s bio, and the television station claims he continues to preach there. However, recent videos of recent services were allegedly removed from the church’s YouTube page.
Leo Endel, the executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention, reported that Stine resigned as president in May owing to the government investigation.
Endel said the convention is waiting to see if Stine will be charged with a crime and is cooperating with the investigation. Engel said the board of directors for the conference has been notified now that the examination has been made public. Endel said that he had alerted the credential committee of the Southern Baptist Convention as well as an expert who is helping the convention deal with sexual assault in the church.
“Our practise has been to get the word out among our people to try to avoid any other future events as soon as charges are submitted or there is public news,” he said.
Endel said that all SBC-affiliated state conventions are attempting to revise their method for handling abuse. The SBC, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, passed a number of reforms in 2022 aimed at addressing the issue of sexual assault, including the creation of a “Ministry Check” website to keep tabs on abuse by pastors and the distribution of a toolbox of resources to help prevent sexual assault. Churches that have handled allegations of abuse poorly have also been ejected from the SBC.
Multiple examples of abuse over many years were found at SBC churches, according to a 2019 investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. Guidepost Solutions released a report in 2022 claiming that SBC leaders had mistreated abuse survivors for years while trying to downplay the problem’s severity among the convention’s 13 million members.
The abuse reform task force was reauthorized by Southern Baptists in their 2023 annual conference.