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The lawyer for megachurch pastor Robert Morris accused a 12-year-old of initiating “inappropriate” sexual behavior

The lawyer for megachurch pastor Robert Morris accused a 12-year-old of initiating “inappropriate” sexual behavior

A lawyer for disgraced Texas megachurch pastor Robert Morris blamed his accuser for initiating years of “inappropriate sexual” contact between her and the defendant when she was just 12 years old, according to recently released documents.

Morris, the founder of Gateway Church in Southlake, resigned in June after admitting to “inappropriate sexual conduct” toward Cindy Clemishire, whom he described as a “young lady” even though she herself said she was a prepubescent child at the time.

Morris’ church leaders initially stood by him – and his lawyer blamed Clemishire when she threatened to sue Morris in 2007, according to correspondence from the time obtained by NBC News.

“It was your client,” wrote attorney J. Shelby Sharpe, referring to 12-year-old Clemishire, “who engaged in inappropriate behavior by entering my client’s bedroom and getting into bed with him, which my client should not have allowed.”

Clemishire said in an interview with NBC last week that she had asked Morris for $50,000 in damages to cover the cost of the consultation. Morris’s lawyer countered her demand by offering her $25,000 on the condition that she sign a non-disclosure agreement, which she refused.

Robert Morris, the founder of Gateway Church in Southlake and former spiritual adviser to Donald Trump, resigned after being accused of sexually assaulting Cindy Clemishire when she was just 12 years old. Gateway Church
“It was your client,” wrote attorney J. Shelby Sharpe, referring to 12-year-old Clemishire, “who engaged in inappropriate behavior by coming into my client’s bedroom and getting into bed with him.” Law Office of J. Shelby Sharpe, PC

When NBC contacted Sharpe on Monday, he said he could not recall the $25,000 settlement offer or the requirement for a nondisclosure agreement. He also said he no longer represents Morris, who was once a spiritual adviser to former President Donald Trump.

Sharpe also denied knowing that Clemishire was a child when Morris began engaging in sexual conduct with her, even though the first correspondence her lawyer sent him clearly stated that she was “twelve years old” when the abuse began.

“I don’t remember ever seeing that,” Sharpe told NBC.

“I can tell you that the letters that you have seen speak for themselves,” Sharpe told the outlet. “I will not go into them any further because they speak for themselves.”

Clemishire made her allegations last month, telling Wartburg Watch that she was groomed for abuse by the pastor starting at age 12 and continuing until she was 16 in the 1980s.

Clemishire made public allegations that she was incited to abuse by the priest from the age of 12 until she was 16 in the 1980s. NBC News
Clemishire said in an interview with NBC last week that she had demanded $50,000 in damages from Morris for consulting fees and rejected the counteroffer of $25,000 on the condition that she sign a non-disclosure agreement. NBC News
The elders claimed the sudden reversal came after they learned all the allegations from accuser Cindy Clemishire. WFAA

Morris responded in a statement admitting to “inappropriate sexual conduct” and saying he had confessed and repented long ago. While Gateway Church leaders initially stood by him, they later withdrew their support for Morris, claiming they had no knowledge of the sexual relationship with a child, and he resigned soon after.

“Unfortunately, prior to Friday, June 14, the elders did not have all the facts regarding the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the duration of the abuse,” the Gateway Church board said in a statement.

“The elders previously assumed that Morris’ extramarital relationship, which he had often discussed during his tenure, was with a ‘young lady’ and not the abuse of a 12-year-old child.

“Although it happened many years before Gateway was founded, we as Church leaders regret that we did not have the information we have now.”

The board, which oversees one of the largest megachurches in the U.S. with 100,000 members, said the allegation left it “heartbroken and appalled” and apologized to Clemishire and her family.