Update, June 18, 2024: Pastor Robert Morris resigns, church says it didn't have full story of abuse

The following story discusses sexual abuse and may be disturbing to some readers.

A mega-church pastor in Texas continues to preach on Sundays, even after he recently confessed to molesting a 12-year-old girl for years while in his twenties.

Robert Morris, lead pastor and founder of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, has released a confession statement of inappropriate behaviour that happened while he was in Christian leadership and married. 

"When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behaviour with a young lady in a home where I was staying. It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behaviour happened on several occasions over the next few years," Morris said in a statement to the Christian Post after Gateway Church was asked about the allegations.

Morris continued on in the statement to say as far as he was concerned, the matter was resolved shortly after things became public back in the 1980s. 


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

In 1989, Morris said that he met with the victim's father, and afterward returned to working in ministry. 

The victim, Cindy Clemishire, now a 54-year-old grandmother, shared details of what happened with the Wartburg Watch. Clemishire explained that the first incident happened on Christmas day in 1982 and sporadically continued when Morris stayed with the family for four more years.

"I was 12 years old," Clemishire says in an interview with CP. "I was a little girl. A very innocent little girl. And he was brought into our home. He and his wife, Debbie, and their little boy, Josh, and trusted and preached at the church that my dad helped start and then began grooming all of us to do this, which took me decades to wrap my brain around as an adult."

After preaching at a youth revival in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1981, Morris began preaching regularly in Clemishire's church in Hominy, OK. The two families became close friends and even took trips together. During this time, Clemishire says Morris would tell his wife that he was counselling her while the abuse was taking place.  

It wasn't until Clemishire turned 16 that she confided all the details of the abuse to a friend who encouraged her to expose it. When Clemishire's father heard about it, he told the lead pastor at the church Morris was involved in that if Morris didn’t “get out of ministry,” he would get the police involved. It was then that Morris stepped down and went through two years of "counselling and freedom ministry."

"My father never ever gave his blessing on Robert returning to ministry," Clemishire says. "My father told him he’s lucky he didn’t kill him. I am mortified that he is telling the world my dad gave his blessing! Of course, we forgive because we are called to biblically forgive those who sin against us. But that does not mean he is supposed to go on without repercussions."

Clemshire filed an initial lawsuit against Morris in 2005. The victim claims Morris' attorney suggested she caused the abuse on herself because she was "flirtatious." To try and bring things to a close, Clemishire asked for $50,000 to cover counselling fees from the abuse. Morris offered $25,000 if Clemishire signed a non-disclosure agreement, which she declined. 

"I don't think he ever should have been allowed to be in the ministry," says Clemishire. "We would never allow someone to go teach in a school … work in a daycare or be a doctor if anybody had done these things. And I have a very difficult time believing I'm the only one."

Elders from Morris' church told CP that they believe he has been "Biblically restored."

"Pastor Robert has been open and forthright about a moral failure he had over 35 years ago when he was in his twenties and prior to him starting Gateway Church. He has shared publicly from the pulpit the proper biblical steps he took in his lengthy restoration process. Since the resolution of this 35-year-old matter, there have been no other moral failures. Pastor Robert has walked in purity, and he has placed accountability measures and people in his life. The matter has been properly disclosed to church leadership."