Former high-profile preacher admits to fathering child

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (ABP) -- A former pastor once touted by Southern Baptist leaders as America's next great black preacher has admitted to fathering the child of a woman who claims he raped her during a counseling session in 2004.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (ABP) -- A former pastor once touted by Southern Baptist leaders as America's next great black preacher has admitted to fathering the child of a woman who claims he raped her during a counseling session in 2004.

Before falling from grace, Darrell Gilyard was touted by Southern Baptist leaders as America's next great black preacher.

Darrell Gilyard, who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for molesting a different girl in his church and sending lewd text messages to yet another, signed a consent judgment to resolve a paternity suit the woman filed against him, the Florida Times-Union reported Dec. 11. The admission came after a court-ordered paternity test. Gilyard was not charged with rape.

Gilyard, former pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., pleaded guilty May 21 to molesting a 15-year-old girl and sending lewd text messages to another. He was arrested Jan. 14, 2008, on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct after a church member told police she found inappropriate text messages from Gilyard on her daughter's cell phone. Another girl recorded alleged sexual conduct with Gilyard in her diary.

Gilyard resigned Jan. 4, 2008, after 15 years as pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan, a 7,000-member predominantly African-American congregation. As a young minister in the 1980s, he was mentored by prominent Southern Baptist Convention leaders including Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines and promoted on Jerry Falwell's Old Time Gospel Hour.

Gilyard's relationship with SBC leaders soured in 1991, when he resigned under pressure after admitting to several adulterous affairs with women he was counseling while pastor of a multi-racial SBC church in Richardson, Texas.

Over the years Gilyard resigned from a total of five churches over charges of sexual misconduct. Many SBC leaders disbelieved the accusations, and continued to support him until the Dallas Morning News published stories in 1991 saying dozens of women had accused him of sexual misconduct, with some alleging rape.

Circuit Judge W. Gregg McCaulie ordered that the Jacksonville woman be given full custody of the child. Gilyard, 47, isn't currently able to pay child support, but he must notify the mother's lawyer within 10 days of his release from prison. Gilyard's former church previously settled a lawsuit filed by the woman.

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