Another youth pastor has been arrested for inappropriate sexual behavior. This time, it’s 35-year-old Daniel Kellan Mayfield from the First Baptist Gowensville Church in Landrum.
According to WBTV, Mayfield “admitted to videotaping a woman while she was in the shower May 27…. Following this incident, deputies in Greenville County investigated and discovered that Mayfield allegedly filmed multiple girls in the bathroom of Gowensville Baptist Church in Landrum. They’ve identified six victims so far, saying they are as young as 14 years old.”
The church fired Mayfield on the day he was arrested, but deputies with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office say these behaviors go back to at least July 2022. He’s been charged with one count of voyeurism and five counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. More charges may be forthcoming because it is suspected there may be more victims.
It’s been a year since the bombshell SBC sex scandal
It was in May 2022 when the country learned what so many survivors already knew: that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) had been covering up decades of sexual abuse and assault. The many misdeeds of the Catholic Church had been well documented by this time, thanks to an exposé by the Boston Globe, but the SBC scandal rocked the country once again.
It should not have. In 2019, the Houston Chronicle reported that “more than 100 Southern Baptist youth pastors had been convicted or charged in sex crimes.”
This type of systemic sexual abuse (and history of coverups) runs rampant in organizations throughout the country. In just June of 2023:
- It was revealed that the New Orleans archdiocese had been protecting a serial child molester.
- A Christian minister was sentenced to 25 years for infecting a preschool child with an STI.
- A youth group leaders was arrested for and charged with molesting four children.
- A pastor and ministry founder was arrested on “four counts of felony indecent liberties with a child and four counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.”
- A church camp counselor was arrested for child porn after he was caught filming children in the bathroom.
Can you file a sexual abuse lawsuit against a church in South Carolina?
Yes, you can – though there may be multiple liable parties in a case involving sexual assault of abuse by a member of a religious organization. The perpetrator of the act can be held liable, whether that person is a member of a religious order, a staff member, a volunteer, or a fellow parishioner. The organization can held liable. This is true whether the abuse occurs on church property, during a church-sponsored event, at a religious school, or anywhere. The reason for this is that the religious organization is responsible for conducting background checks on its staff, and for training its people. As such, it can be held liable for an act of sexual assault of abuse.
Another potential liable party is a mandated reporter who didn’t report. Under South Carolina law, members of the clergy* are considered mandated reporters. That means if they know of abuse or even suspect abuse, they are mandated by law to report it to either child welfare or local law enforcement. So important is this rule that reporters are granted immunity in the event they get it wrong. In other words, a mandated reporter cannot be held liable for reporting suspected abuse that turns out to be untrue.
(*Certain members of the clergy are granted exemptions because of laws governing privileged communication.)
Finally, any third-party who has knowledge of the abuse or assault can potentially be held liable. If the act occurs in a hotel room, for example, the hotel may potentially be liable.
How McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips can help
As experienced trial attorneys who work with survivors, we understand how traumatizing an act of abuse can be. When your abuser is also someone you trust – with your fears, with your burdens, with your children – figuring out your next steps can be overwhelming.
We also know what kind of bravery and courage it takes to come forward and admit you or your child has been sexually abused or assaulted by someone at your church. Survivors often face intense scrutiny and disbelief by the very people they call friends. Along with the physical injuries, the emotional and psychological trauma inflicted by an abuser and by those who defend abusers can feel like too much to bear.
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips is here to help you. We provide a safe space with an attorney you can trust to tell your story. When you work with us, we protect you at every step. We can use a pseudonym in our filings (like “Jane Doe” or “John Doe”) to protect your anonymity. We will deal with the defense and its attorneys on your behalf. We will file all the necessary legal paperwork and review your medical and employment records. We will gather applicable evidence and depose witnesses and create a path forward for you. We demand damages that fit the true extent of your losses, such as:
- All medical expenses, including hospital stays, doctors’ visits, medications, therapy, counseling, and associated costs;
- All lost wages, including a loss of future earning potential;
- Your pain and suffering, both physical and emotional; and
- Punitive damages, when applicable.
We are fierce advocates for our clients. We’ve secured millions on behalf of individuals as well as members of class actions. We have the resources to take on any religious organization – and we do not back down.
You are not alone. If you or anyone you love is the victim of sexual assault or abuse anywhere in South Carolina, the attorneys of McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips are ready and able to help. To schedule a free consultation at one of our multiple office locations, or to request a phone or video consultation instead, please call us or complete our contact form.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood