JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Westside pastor faced his congregation for the first time since a member and former employee of his church made a disturbing confession at a Jacksonville City Council meeting Tuesday night.
Roy Bay said he molested boys for years in St. Louis public bathrooms as he was speaking out against an expansion of Jacksonville’s human rights ordinance to include the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
More than 200 churchgoers streamed through Evangel Temple’s doors Wednesday night.
Bay was one of them.
Action News Jax’s cameras were not allowed inside the church, although the church leadership welcomed our crew to attend the service and observe.
Bay sat at the back of the sanctuary behind the cameras that live streamed the service online.
He left with security shortly before the service ended.
That live stream ended abruptly before Pastor Gary Wiggins made a statement to the congregation about Bay.
“We're going to pray for a member,” he said before the live stream cut off.
The pastor told his congregation the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was there Wednesday investigating Bay's claims.
While the church is outspokenly against expanding the ordinance to include the LGBT community, he said he had no idea Bay would speak or what he would say.
He said the church will not keep Bay out of services or kick him out of his home, which is owned by the church for now, but Wiggins assured his congregation the church is taking steps to make sure Bay is not around kids.
“I lived most of my life sexually assaulting kids. I never went to jail. Because why? Kids believed me that, 'Hey, this is – you're alright, son,’” Bay said at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Bay said he abused children because he himself was abused by men in public restrooms as a child.
Christopher Anderson, executive director of nonprofit organization MaleSurvivor, said he thinks Bay’s claims are a scare tactic.
“What’s clear from the research is those links really don’t exist,” said Anderson. “Any attempt to link expansion of civil rights for LGBTQ persons with increased risk of child sexual abuse is just flat out wrong.”
Bay’s wife told Action News Jax he was not home when we stopped by Wednesday night.
“I’d just rather not deal with it,” she said.
Action News Jax received a statement from Christopher Anderson, executive director of Male Survivor:
"Mr. Bay’s statements that homosexual activity is a root cause of child sexual abuse are categorically wrong. Research is clear that a significant proportion of serial child molesters self identify as heterosexual. Many abusers hide their crimes behind veils of “normality” oftentimes getting married and having children to better deflect attention away from themselves and gain the trust of others. The stories of Jared Fogle and Jerry Sandusky are perfect examples of this behavior.
"Also, it is vital to stress that the vast majority of survivors of child sexual abuse never go on to perpetrate abuse themselves. A strong body of research backs demonstrates this, one of the most recent studies finding, “proportionally very few of these sexually abused boys (3 percent) went on to become sexual offenders; and, contrary to findings typically reported in retrospective clinical studies, proportionally few sexual offenders (4 percent) had a confirmed history of sexual abuse.” - Testing the sexually abused-sexual abuser hypothesis: A prospective longitudinal birth cohort study.
"Ensuring the civil rights of LGBTQ persons does not put children at greater risk for sexual abuse, and suggesting that survivors will become perpetrators only creates more shame and stigma for survivors and more roadblocks to healing. "