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Baker Botts Secures Settlements in High-Profile Sexual-Assault Litigation

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Baker Botts helped to reach confidential settlements on behalf of firm client Gareld Duane Rollins, Jr. in a lawsuit brought by Mr. Rollins in 2017 against the Southern Baptist Convention; a former Texas court of appeals judge, Paul Pressler; former Harris County political official, Jared Woodfill; First Baptist Church of Houston; and several related entities. Mr. Rollins alleged in his complaint that Judge Pressler sexually abused him when he was a child in Judge Pressler’s Bible study group, that Judge Pressler continued to do so over a 20-year period, and that the other defendants either facilitated the abuse or covered it up.

In 2018, the Harris County trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants based on limitations. Baker Botts then became involved and took the case over on appeal. The summary judgment was reversed in February 2021, with Baker Botts making new law in Texas on limitations resulting in the reversal of the dismissal. (On appeal, Mr. Rollins argued that the doctrines of unsound mind and fraudulent concealment tolled the statute of limitations. Specifically, Mr. Rollins argued that his childhood trauma rendered him of an unsound mind and therefore prevented him from asserting his claims within the typical statute of limitations. Based on this argument, the First Court of Appeals reversed the limitations ruling.)

The latest pleading by Rollins included a range of additional information on the case, including the following:

  • The SBC refused to produce documents, claiming their executive committee had their documents and that the EC was a separate entity.
  • After Baker Botts added the executive committee as a defendant, the committee waited until a week before trial to produce millions of pages of documents.
  • Baker Botts found documents in which the SBC executive committee admitted that it wouldn’t take factual depositions because it would confirm Rollins’s claims.
  • Baker Botts found documents that two churches discovered abuse but told no one.
  • Baker Botts obtained documents and deposition testimony confirming several young men were paid by Jared Woodfill and his firm to “assist” Judge Pressler in his home. These men agreed to testify in the case.
  • Several witnesses, including a current Southern Baptist pastor, a prosecuting attorney and a sitting judge, were willing to come forward to testify about Judge Pressler’s abuse and the cover-up by the other defendant.

Lead counsel for the plaintiff, Michael Goldberg of Baker Botts, stated: “I am so proud of the Baker Botts team in devoting their time to see that justice was done for Duane. From taking on a case that had been dismissed, to making new law allowing us to proceed, to finding the smoking gun documents and to convincing other victims to testify, this was the epitome of turning a losing case to a winner.”

The Baker Botts team included Houston lawyers Michael Goldberg, Kevin Jacobs, Travis Gray, Dominic Cruciani and Jacob Wirfel and legal assistant Kendall Black.

ABOUT BAKER BOTTS L.L.P.
Baker Botts is an international law firm whose lawyers practice throughout a network of offices around the globe. Based on our experience and knowledge of our clients' industries, we are recognized as a leading firm in the energy, technology and life sciences sectors. Since 1840, we have provided creative and effective legal solutions for our clients while demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to excellence. For more information, please visit bakerbotts.com.

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