Robert Morris, the influential founder and senior pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, has resigned following allegations of child sexual abuse dating back to the 1980s. The church's board of elders announced Morris's resignation on Tuesday, three days after he confessed to engaging in "sexual behavior" with a child during that period.

The resignation follows revelations by Cindy Clemishire, now 54, who alleged that Morris began sexually abusing her when she was 12 years old, continuing for over four years. Clemishire shared her story on The Wartburg Watch, a church watchdog site, prompting the church and Morris to acknowledge the misconduct.

"The elders' prior understanding was that Morris's extramarital relationship, which he had discussed many times throughout his ministry, was with a 'young lady' and not abuse of a 12-year-old child," the church's elders stated. They expressed regret for not having known the victim's age or the extent of the abuse earlier.

Gateway Church has retained the law firm Haynes & Boone to conduct an independent review of the allegations to ensure a complete understanding of what transpired. The church emphasized its commitment to transparency and accountability in addressing these serious accusations.

Morris had long recounted a story of a "moral failure" involving sexual sin from his early years as a minister. However, the specifics of Clemishire's age and the duration of the abuse had not been disclosed until now. Clemishire's public revelation forced a reexamination of Morris's past actions and the church's response.

Clemishire, who had previously disclosed the abuse to various church leaders, including those at Gateway, expressed mixed feelings about Morris's resignation. "Though I am grateful that he is no longer a pastor at Gateway, I am disappointed that the Board of Elders allowed him to resign. He should have been terminated," she said.

The scandal has led to widespread condemnation from Morris's allies and significant figures in the community. Texas State Representatives Nate Schatzline and Giovanni Capriglione, both Republicans representing areas where Gateway has campuses, issued statements denouncing Morris's actions. "Pastor Morris must be held accountable," Capriglione wrote, emphasizing the need for justice and support for the victims.

Morris, known for his efforts to advance conservative Christian morality through government and Republican politics, had previously served on President Donald Trump's spiritual advisory committee. A spokesperson for Trump clarified that Morris is no longer affiliated with the presidential campaign.

In their official statement, the Gateway Church elders expressed deep remorse over their handling of the situation. "For the sake of the victim, we are thankful this situation has been exposed. We know many have been affected by this, we understand that you are hurting, and we are very sorry. It is our prayer that, in time, healing for all those affected can occur," they said.

This is not the first time Gateway Church has faced scrutiny over Morris's past. In 2005, Clemishire attempted to sue Morris, and former Gateway elder Tom Lane acknowledged receiving an email from her detailing the abuse. However, significant action was not taken until Clemishire went public with her story.

Morris founded Gateway Church with his wife in 2000, and it has since grown to over 100,000 active attendees. Morris also hosts a television program that airs in 190 countries and a radio program, Worship & the Word with Pastor Robert, broadcast in more than 6,800 cities. His influence extends to The King's University in Southlake, where he serves as chancellor.

It remains unclear what Morris's resignation means for his media programs or his role at the university. Prior to the allegations becoming public, Morris had announced plans to pass church leadership to his son, James Morris, in spring 2025. The board of elders has yet to address the future leadership structure following Morris's departure.