Were you or a loved one sexually abused by Joe David Nelms, a former youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente, California? Our experienced California sexual abuse attorneys are here to help. We understand the painful and powerful emotions sexual abuse can cause. You are not alone. We believe you, and we believe your story should be told.

Legal Support For Victims Of Joe David Nelms

Joe David Nelms has served his time in prison. In 2011, he was sentenced to one year in jail and five years of probation for molesting a young girl beginning when she was 14. He is now a registered sex offender in Texas and California. The criminal justice system has done its job, but many sexual abuse survivors believe justice has yet to be done.

Young Child Holding Bible

Sexual Abuse In The Southern Baptist Community

In a series of new lawsuits, sexual abuse survivors within the Southern Baptist community seek to hold the Southern Baptist Convention accountable for negligence. In court documents, these brave survivors accuse the SBC of failing to protect them from dangerous predators. In their lawsuits, the survivors claim that the SBC has utterly failed to address the problem of sexual abuse, empowering dangerous predators to prey on unsuspecting victims.

Thanks to an investigative report from the Houston Chronicle, we now know that sexual abuse is widespread in the Southern Baptist community. Over the past two decades, at least 220 Southern Baptist deacons, pastors and volunteers have been convicted of sexual crimes. At least three dozen of these men remain in active ministry.

At the same time, allegations have emerged that Southern Baptist churches around the country have concealed sexual abuse cases from the secular authorities and the public. Yet the Southern Baptist Convention has yet to take concrete action.

Youth Pastor Convicted Of Molestation

Nelms served as the youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church (formerly known as First Baptist Church of San Clemente), between 1990 and 2000. He was arrested on an Orange County warrant after moving to Lindale, Texas, where he was volunteering as a Bible study teacher at First Baptist Church. He also worked as a counselor for high school-aged children at Sky Ranch, a Christian camp and ministry. He was ultimately convicted on charges of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor. The victim was 13 when the abuse started.

Prosecutors say Nelms was arrested after a woman, now in her 30s, came forward to claim that the youth pastor sexually molested her over the course of three years, beginning when she was 14 years old in 1993. Police sought public information to find additional victims, though no reports on additional victims were released at the time.

Upon Nelms’ arrest, officials for the Texas church said they acted swiftly, removing Nelms from his position as a Sunday School teacher, notifying the civil authorities, cutting Nelms off from contact with children and initiating an internal inquiry into the matter. “We are committed to the safety of our children,” said Tom Buck, senior pastor at First Baptist Church. “A background and diligent screening process takes place for anyone who works with [children] in our church. This was our practice for the man in question, and our efforts revealed a clean record.”