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Dallas megachurch pastor resigns after sexual abuse allegations

Robert Morris, the pastor of a megachurch in Dallas who was a spiritual adviser to former President Donald Trump, has resigned after a woman said he sexually abused her as a child in the 1980s.

The Board of Elders at Gateway Church announced Morris’s resignation in a statement 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 board said in the statement. “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 the abuse of a 12-year-old child.”

The board said it has hired the law firm Haynes and Boone to conduct an independent investigation into the abuse allegations against Morris, which were first made public Friday on the Christian watchdog site The Wartburg Watch. 

Cindy Clemishire, 54, told NBC News that Morris had first abused her when she was 12 and he was 21. He allegedly invited her into his room and touched her inappropriately, abuse that continued for the next 4 1/2 years.

“When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying. It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong,” Morris said in a statement to the Christian Post about the allegations. 

“In March of 1987, this situation was brought to light, and it was confessed and repented of,” he added. “I submitted myself to the Elders of the Shady Grove Church and the young lady’s father. They asked me to step out of the ministry and receive counseling and freedom ministry, which I did. Since that time, I have walked in purity and accountability in this area.”

Clemishire said she was “appalled” by his characterization of her as a “young lady.”

“I was 12 years old. I was a little girl. A very innocent little girl,” she said.

Gateway Church was founded by Morris in 2000 and has more than 100,000 people attend each weekend across several locations, according to the church’s website.

A spokesperson for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign told NBC News that Morris is not involved with the campaign and that the former president was unaware of the allegations.

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