Summary: Paul Pressler, a former Texas judge, is accused in a lawsuit of sexually molesting a boy for years starting when the boy was 14-years-old.
The lawsuit filed in Harris County two months ago details how the former justice for the 14th Court of Appeals sexually abused Duane Rollins, a former Bible study student. Pressler, who served in the Texas state house from 1957-59, was supposedly assaulting Rollins several times a month for several years. The abuse allegedly started in the late 70s but slowed down in 1983 when Rollins left Houston for college.
Pressler “generally and categorically denies each and every allegation,” as stated in a November court filing in response to Rollins’ suit. Rollins claimed in his lawsuit that the abuse consisted of anal penetration in Pressler’s master bedroom study. He states that Pressler told him he was “special” and God had sanctioned the secrecy to their sexual contact.
Fort Worth-based Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and its president, Paige Patterson, were named as defendants in the lawsuit in addition to Pressler’s wife Nancy, First Baptist Church of Houston, his former law partner Jared Woodfill, and Woodfill Law Firm. Rollins is seeking damages of over $1 million.
Pressler was a key figure in the “conservative resurgence” of the Southern Baptism movement in the 1970s and 1980s. The movement attempted to eliminate liberals and moderates from the church’s leadership.
Pressler’s attorney, Ted Tredennick, noted Rollins criminal record, including multiple DUI arrests and other charges. He said, “Mr. Rollins is clearly a deeply troubled man, with a track record of multiple felonies and incarceration, and it is the height of irresponsibility that anyone would present such a bizarre and frivolous case – much less report on it.”
Rollins attorney, Daniel Shea, made it clear that his client’s past problems with the law were a result of the sexual abuse during his childhood. Rollins turned to alcohol and drugs to cope. Some of his legal troubles include ten years for burglary in 1998. During his jail sentence, Pressler advocated for Rollins twice before the parole board, once in 2000 and again in 2002. In the 2002 letter, Pressler promised to hire Rollins and be “personally involved in every bit of Duane’s life with supervision and control.”
The court filings allude to a settlement between Rollins and Pressler in 2004 regarding a battery charge from an incident in a Dallas hotel room. While the settlement is private, the reference to it is there. Shea claims that Rollins filed an assault charge over ten years ago, he “suppressed” the memory until a meeting with a prison psychologist two years ago. The psychiatrist, Harvey Rosenstock, wrote a letter on behalf of Rollins, which was included in the lawsuit. Rosenstock believes Rollins to be a “reliable historian for the childhood sexual trauma to which he was repeatedly and chronically subjected.”
President George H.W. Bush had picked Pressler to lead the Office of Government Ethics in 1989, but an FBI background investigation ruled him out. They reported that he was eliminated for ethics issues.
Woodfill stated he plans on filing counter charges against Rollins and his lawyer Shea for the “frivolous and harassing lawsuit.”
Do you think past records should be a factor when someone claims sexual abuse? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
To learn more about accused child molesters, read these articles:
- Disbarred Attorney Lawrence E. Madison Resentenced
- Mama June Stays with Boyfriend after He Molested Eight-Year-Old Child
- Olympic Gymnastics Doctor Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charges