NASHVILLE (BP) – Longtime pastor and former SBC President Johnny Hunt has filed suit against the SBC, the SBC Executive Committee (EC) and Guidepost Solutions. The suit seeks unspecified damages related to allegations of defamation and the invasion of privacy based on accusations made against Hunt in the 2022 Guidepost report stemming from an investigation into the alleged mishandling of sexual abuse by the SBC EC.
Hunt filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Nashville on March 17. Hunt is represented by Nashville-based Cole Law Group.
In the report, Guidepost stated, “During our investigation, an SBC pastor and his wife came forward to report that SBC President Johnny Hunt (2008-2010) had sexually assaulted the wife on July 25, 2010.”
Guidepost says their report “was corroborated in part by a counseling minister and three other credible witnesses; and our investigators did not find Dr. Hunt’s statements related to the sexual assault allegation to be credible.”
However, Hunt alleges, “the SBC, its leadership, and the firm hired for ‘damage control’—Defendant Guidepost Solutions LLC (‘Guidepost’)—decided to use [Hunt] as their scapegoat.”
The suit also alleges, “The encounter involving [Hunt] had nothing to do with the types of reports that led to Guidepost’s engagement. It should not have been included in Guidepost’s report. Indeed, it should not have been published at all.”
Messengers to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting overwhelmingly approved a motion calling for a task force to oversee a third-party investigation into allegations of mishandling abuse claims at the SBC Executive Committee.
Under terms of the motion, the independent review could span January 2000-June 2021 and could include any Executive Committee members and staff serving during that time. Executive Committee members and staff waived attorney-client privilege “in order to ensure full access to information and accuracy in the review,” at the request of the messengers.
Hunt was an ex officio member of the Executive Committee from June 2008 through June 2010—his tenure as SBC president.
“The SBC Executive Committee is aware of the complaint against the Convention filed by former SBC president Johnny Hunt. We are reviewing the complaint and will not be commenting on active litigation at this time,” a spokesperson for the SBC EC said in a statement.
Guidepost declined to comment.
While the suit, which demands a jury trial, does not specifically list a financial amount desired for damages that are being pursued, it states, “[Hunt]’s life forever changed when the Defendants publicly released their report. He lost his job; he lost income from speaking engagements; and he lost income from publishing opportunities. His losses are substantial, and Defendants should be held liable.”
Hunt resigned from his vice president position with the North American Mission Board shortly before the release of the Guidepost report in May 2022. Then in a video released in November 2022, Mark Hoover, of NewSpring Church in Wichita, Kan., Mike Whitson, of First Baptist in Indian Trail, N.C., Steven Kyle of Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City, Fla., and Benny Tate of Rock Springs Church in Milner, Ga., announced the restoration of Johnny Hunt to public ministry.
Hunt preached at Hiland Park on Jan. 15, at a men’s conference at New Season Church in Hiram, Ga., this weekend, and is scheduled at other churches and conferences later this spring.