According to NBC News, a Texas pastor has pleaded guilty to an enhanced charge of possession of child sex abuse images after admitting to downloading and possessing explicit material at his church. The pastor in question, identified as 57-year-old David Lloyd Walther, served as the pastor of Faith Baptist Church located at 3625 Gattis School Rd, Round Rock, TX 78664.
According to the U.S. attorney's office for Western Texas, Walther "knowingly searched for, downloaded, distributed, and possessed" child sex abuse images, including those involving prepubescent minors, via a peer-to-peer file sharing network. This illegal activity took place during his tenure as the pastor of Faith Baptist Church. The arrest of Walther occurred on November 9, when law enforcement officials conducted a search of his residence and vehicle, uncovering two large computer hard drives containing a staggering amount of disturbing material. More than 100,000 images and over 5,000 videos depicting child sex abuse were seized by authorities.
Following his arrest, Walther was released on home detention with GPS monitoring on November 17, with strict conditions that prohibited him from using any computers or having contact with minors. On June 27, 2023, he entered a guilty plea in federal court in Austin, as indicated by court records.
The U.S. attorney's office has stated that Walther could face a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, accompanied by a fine of up to $250,000. The sentencing date has yet to be scheduled, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office.
Amid the shocking case of Pastor David Lloyd Walther and his admission of guilt for possessing child sex abuse images, concerns regarding the rights of survivors of abuse within Baptist churches and the possibility of pursuing civil cases against those who facilitate such misconduct have surfaced. To gain valuable perspectives on this issue, we engaged in a conversation with Marc Lenahan, Esq., a highly regarded sexual abuse attorney based in Texas.
Darla Medina (DM): Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Lenahan. Given your expertise in handling sexual abuse cases, what can survivors of abuse in religious institutions do if they wish to pursue civil action against those who enabled the abuse?
Marc Lenahan (ML): Thank you for having me, Darla. It's important for survivors to know that they have options for seeking justice. When it comes to churches, civil cases can be pursued against various parties, including the institution itself, its leaders, or individuals who were aware of the abuse but failed to take appropriate action. This may include claims of negligence, failure to report, breach of duty, or even intentional infliction of emotional distress.
DM: Can you provide some guidance on how survivors can navigate the legal process and what steps they should take?
ML: Absolutely. First and foremost, survivors should prioritize their own well-being and seek professional support, such as counseling or therapy, to help them cope with the trauma they have endured. It's crucial to have a strong support system during this difficult time.
From a legal standpoint, survivors should gather any evidence they have, such as documents, emails, or witnesses, that can corroborate their claims. It's also essential to consult with an experienced sexual abuse attorney who can guide them through the legal process, explain their rights, and help them build a solid case.
DM: Are there any specific challenges survivors might face when pursuing civil action against a Baptist church?
ML: Yes, there are unique challenges in these cases. Baptist church and other religious institutions often have resources and legal teams dedicated to defending their interests. They may attempt to protect their reputation and discourage survivors from coming forward. Additionally, there can be statutes of limitations that vary from state to state, so it's crucial for survivors to consult an attorney promptly to understand their rights within the given timeframe.
DM: How can civil cases against those who enable abuse in a church contribute to preventing future incidents?
ML: Civil cases can bring attention to the issue, hold accountable those who enabled the abuse, and potentially lead to policy changes within religious institutions. By pursuing legal action, survivors can not only seek justice for themselves but also play a crucial role in protecting others from similar harm.
DM: Thank you for sharing your valuable insights, Mr. Lenahan. Is there any final message you would like to convey to survivors of abuse in religious institutions?
ML: To survivors, I want to emphasize that you are not alone. It takes immense courage to come forward, but your voice matters. Reach out to professionals who can support you, including attorneys experienced in sexual abuse cases. By seeking justice, you can contribute to a safer future for others while finding healing for yourself.