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Cedarville Reinstates President White After Misconduct Investigation

Trustees Danny Akin and Mark Vroegop Resign In Protest

Warren Cole Smith

Cedarville University’s Board of Trustees on Friday reinstated Dr. Thomas White as president.  The reinstatement follows a six-week investigation into whether White had covered up a professor’s sexual misconduct and withheld information about the misconduct from the board.

According to The Roys Report, which broke this story, “two trustees, Pastor Mark Vroegop of College Park Church and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, have resigned. Both said they were troubled by the board’s decision and could not support it.”

The professor who had engaged in sexual misconduct was Dr. Anthony Moore.  Moore was fired from his position as an assistant professor of theology and Special Advisor to the President for Kingdom Diversity in April.  Moore had previously been fired as a pastor of The Village Church in Fort Worth, Tex., in 2017 after he was accused of secretly videotaping a fellow staff member in the shower. 

The staff member, a youth pastor, filed a police report at the time but did not press charges. 

Church officials said Moore was fired due to “grievous and immoral actions against an adult church member,” per the Fort Worth Star Telegram

White then hired Moore to work for Cedarville, an independent Baptist school, in August 2017 under a five-year “restoration plan,” Baptist Press reported. 

When White fired Moore April 23, he said he had learned the accusations against Moore were more extensive than he’d previously known.

But The Village Church officials said in a statement last week they had “thoroughly” informed Cedarville University in 2017 about why Moore was terminated and “reiterated clearly that we did not believe he was fit for ministry of any kind.”

Cedarville’s board of trustees said in a statement May 1 that separate independent investigations would examine Moore’s conduct while he was employed at Cedarville and the process around his hiring, including interactions between White and Moore. 

The statement said the board was “incredibly grieved over this new information and the questions it raises,” and that White “has pledged his full support” of the process, per Baptist Press.

In a videotaped statement posted on the university’s website April 27, White said he was sorry that he brought Moore to Cedarville and that he recommended that the board hire an outside, independent agency to confirm that nothing inappropriate had occurred on Cedarville’s campus. He said no incidents had been reported by students.

This came after White said he learned new details about Moore’s prior sexual misconduct, which involved taking multiple secret videos of a male youth pastor showering.(The church that had previously fired Moore, however, said it had disclosed all these details to White before Moore was hired.)

On May 1, Cedarville’s trustees put Moore on administrative leave, pending an independent investigation. Today, the board announced the results of that investigation, which was conducted by the law firm Husch Blackwell.

Husch Blackwell’s report said it found that there is “no reason to question President White’s benevolent motivation” for hiring Moore.

Yet, the firm also said that “it is reasonable to infer from the evidence available that President White took steps that he knew, or should have known, clouded the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct. The firm also concluded that White “subsequently failed to notify the Board of the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct.”

Despite these findings, the board reinstated White, noting that White “has apologized for these mistakes, acknowledged his errors in judgment . . . and has expressed remorse for hiring Dr. Moore.”

However, the board said it is requiring White to complete courses on victim prevention and victim advocacy and to lead Cedarville to emphasize these issues.

In a statement tweeted on Friday, Danny Akin said that the hiring of Moore and the plan for his restoration “was seriously flawed” and “poorly implemented.” Akin said he tendered his resignation immediately after the board voted on Tuesday to reinstate White.

Mark Vroegop said in a statement posted on his personal website that he does not believe that the steps taken by the board “are sufficient in light of what the report revealed.” Vroegop said he has resigned from the board effective today.

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Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine and has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 20 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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