This is an account of the Douglas Phillips’ sex abuse scandal as told by sources close to Phillips’ former business and ministry, Vision Forum, and church, Boerne Christian Assembly. It chronicles when people discovered the depth of his adulterous relationship and describes actions they took.
Note: This article is Part 3 in a series:
- Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Part 1 – The Puzzle of Control
- Attempting to Set the Doug Phillips Record Straight: Part 2 – The Victim
Introduction: There will be a bit of overlap from the previous article in order to present a complete timeline. This article has been compiled based on information I have gathered and a timeline of notes sent to me by a person who has had a birds-eye view of Doug Phillips and his ministry for many years. Before publishing, it was checked by other sources to ensure that the account is as accurate as possible. Doug Phillips’ victim will be referred to as “Victim” throughout the article, and the Sources will remain unnamed. ~ja
Over the past several months there have been many articles published about the fall of Douglas W. Phillips. Much of what has been published by a certain blog covering these stories has been exaggerated and inaccurate, motivated by bitterness and hate against Doug Phillips and his teachings more than a pure desire for the truth.
Meanwhile, several sources within the community of Boerne Christian Assembly (BCA) near San Antonio, Texas, and Vision Forum have come forward with their personal accounts. These sources have direct contact with Victim. The desire of these sources and all the people involved in this unfortunate situation is to see that Doug Phillips is never again in a leadership or ministry position.
The Victim of Doug Phillips will remain unnamed in this article, as will the Sources.
Victim and her family were members of Boerne Christian Assembly (BCA) for many years. She and her family helped out in the Phillips home over the years, but not on a consistent basis. She did work as nanny at times for the Phillips family and cared for children on trips, but this was not a full-time job.
Doug Phillips began grooming Victim after she was legally an adult. This led to an emotional affair, and later, a physical and sexual relationship. The guarding of this adultery is at the center of Doug Phillips’ eventual downfall.
2007 through 2010: “Grooming” Becomes Adultery
In 2007, this illicit relationship became sexual. To be clear, Doug Phillips was honest about one thing and that was that he “did not ‘know’ his victim in the biblical sense.” In 2007, the victim began spending more time in the Phillips home and with the Phillips family. She was considered a close family friend at that point. Also in 2007, Phillips employed Victim to write Jonathan Park radio drama scripts with his daughter in an effort to spend more time with her. This was a paid position and provided Doug more opportunities to spend more time with Victim in his home after his children had gone to bed.
In 2008, Doug Phillips was confronted by a member of BCA and friend of Victim, but there was no evidence to prove his guilt. Many people at this time began to notice the relationship with Doug and Victim, but no one had real and hard evidence of any wrong behavior other than it just did not look right.
In 2009, Victim’s mother caught Doug Phillips and Victim having sexual-based chat sessions in the middle of the night. Doug, his wife, Beall, and Victim’s parents met. This was the first time Doug and Beall and Victim’s parents met together. Doug confessed to having romantic feelings for Victim, but there was no acknowledgement of any sexual impropriety. At the time, Victim did not disclose any sexual impropriety, but only the romantic feelings they shared together.
In October 2010, Beall Phillips was made aware of the adulterous nature of the relationship when Victim’s mother informed her that Doug and Victim had been kissing. Also in 2010, Doug Phillips sent Victim’s parents on a vacation, perhaps as an attempt to “buy” them off.
2011 through 2012: First Private Confrontation; Double-Life Unravels
In the summer of 2011, while in Paris, Doug was confronted by Peter Bradrick (his Vision Forum Executive Assistant) regarding the inappropriate behavior Doug was exhibiting towards Victim in public. Doug denied that anything was going on. Many people were suspicious that there was something inappropriate going on between Doug and Victim, but no one had any proof yet.
Doug told Victim they were soul mates. He told her he loved her and had promised they’d eventually get married and have children together. During these years, the relationship with Victim ebbed and flowed. Doug worked very hard at keeping prospective courters away from his victim. Victim also affirmed her affections towards Phillips.
Despite what others have claimed, Doug and Victim were not seen holding hands at the 2012 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (founded by Doug in 2004), and Doug did not give her an engagement ring (Victim’s friend gave her a costume jewelry ring).
In December 2012, Doug’s double life began to unravel when he was caught trying to climb in Victim’s bedroom window. Victim’s father and brother chased Doug down the street with a gun until Doug stepped under a street light, revealing his identity. The relationship with Victim ended on that day, and reports that they were still seeing each other throughout 2013 are completely fabricated.
Around this time, Victim finally divulged to her parents the extent of her relationship with Doug Phillips.
After Doug Phillips was caught trying to enter Victim’s bedroom window, there was another private meeting between Doug, Beall, and Victim’s parents. They agreed to keep things quiet. BCA elder Bob Sarratt was not notified.
January to August 2013: Cover-Up Efforts and Changes
In January 2013, Doug Phillips told Bob Sarratt that he was resigning from BCA leadership in order to spend more time with his family. This is the same reason Doug told the congregation of BCA for his stepping down. The Phillips family even sent an email to several friends and ministry leaders around the country, asking them to listen to the sermon Doug preached regarding his resignation. So, not only did Doug deceive his congregation and its elders, he misled and deceived others by leading them to believe this resignation was purely to focus on his family.
The week after Doug resigned, Victim and her family sat down with Bob Sarratt and told him the truth. Bob was understandably devastated and completely unsure of how to handle the situation. At that time, Victim’s family stopped attending BCA permanently and started attending a church in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Bob Sarratt, Doug and Beall Phillips, Victim, and her family all agreed to keep the sins of Doug Phillips confidential and tell no one. The elders at the Fredericksburg church became aware of the situation at the time but also had no idea what to do about it.
On February 28, Scott Brown, long-time Vision Forum friend, posted an article, “What does True Repentance Look Like?”
In March, Jeff Horn becomes “provisional elder” at Boerne Christian Assembly.
Between February and August of 2013, life went on for Doug Phillips apparently as planned — until Victim started talking to people in August of 2013 and telling her story.
August-October 2013: Cover-Up Collapses; Phillips Resigns
On August 7, 2013, Doug posted an article entitled, “True Repentance – A Key to Family Blessing.”
Late August 2013, Jeff Horn at BCA found out about Doug Phillips’ sexual scandal.
On September 5-7, Doug spoke at a conference put on by FORGE Ministries, “Engage the Battle” and “Master’s Plan for Fatherhood.”
On September 9, Doug did some damage control. He met with the board of Vision Forum Ministries and confessed to them, saying he had only kissed Victim a few times and did not have intercourse with her.
In September and October, Doug was quietly planning his resignation, on his terms. He was going to step down from leadership and cancel all speaking engagements. Please be clear Doug Phillips was not doing this because he was repentant. He was doing it because he now had to.
In October, several people from the San Antonio community who had knowledge of the situation contacted one of the five men who eventually confronted Doug at his home on October 29. They alerted him to what Victim had told them. This man called the Victim to confirm what he had been told. He then called several other men to break the news to them and they went into action. This included contacting Pastor Joe Morecraft. Reports that Pastor Morecraft found out about Doug Phillips’ sins while on a trip to Greece in September 20-29, 2013, are completely false; he never found out until he was called and told about it in October 2013.
On October 29, five men went to Doug Phillips’ home to confront him. These were: former Vision Forum associates/staffers Peter Bradrick and Jordan Muela, former Vision Forum assistant Bob Renaud, friend and pastor Joe Morecraft, and Doug’s old college friend Mark Weaver. These men took time off from their jobs, spent their own money for air fare, and flew in from various parts of the country in order to confront Doug.
Beall was present at this confrontation. Doug and Beall were furious that these long-time friends came to confront Doug. Instead of receiving the counsel of his friends, Doug spent time in the meeting trying to claim he did not commit adultery and that he was working through the situation with his local church and Vision Forum Ministries board. His longtime friends just wanted him to make a full confession and own his own sin, along the exact lines of his own email which he sent out back in August 7 entitled, “True Repentance.” Doug refused the counsel of his friends.
On October 30, Bob Sarratt called an emergency meeting with the men of BCA so Doug could confess his sins. That same day, the Statement of Resignation by Doug Phillips was released on Vision Forum Ministries’ website.
November 2013: Responses and Damage Control Attempts
The public posting of Doug Phillips’ resignation from Vision Forum Ministries on October 30th triggered actions on multiple fronts from organizations, prominent public figures, and private individuals. Many of these were paralleled by apparent attempts at damage control by Doug Phillips. There was also intense online scrutiny of and blogging about many of the people and organizations involved — or that were speculated to have been involved.
Early Responses by Confronters, Victim, Vision Forum Ministries Board, and BCA
In early November of 2013, during the week after the release of Doug’s resignation letter, the five men who confronted Doug at his home revealed the details about the depth and deception of Doug’s sins to the board of Vision Forum Ministries. The Vision Forum board acted swiftly, deciding to close the entire ministry and giving the Phillips family 60 days to vacate their home, which Vision Forum owned. And, on November 11, the closing of Vision Forum Ministries was announced by the board. (Note: The board members of Vision Forum Ministries have been painted in a very poor light by a number of blogs. But, in reality, they acted very quickly and appropriately once they had received the truth. The same suspicion and speculation from a number of blogs also put in a poor light those men who confronted Doug Phillips privately and directly but to no avail.)
A week following the October 29th confrontation at the Phillips’ home, Victim had Doug and Beall Phillips served with a Cease and Desist letter in order to stop them from defaming her. This Cease and Desist letter gives evidence that there was no demonstration of true repentance from Doug Phillips. And, sadly, even his wife Beall was saying unspeakable things about the Victim to members of the community.
Also in November of 2013, Elder Bob Sarratt and Provisional Elder Jeff Horn publicly rebuked Doug Phillips in front of the BCA congregation for his adultery and his deception.
Some Key Response Pieces
On November 2, 2013, came the first news of anyone publicly saying they knew that Doug Phillips had stepped down as an elder at BCA. This was from Doug’s friend, Voddie Baucham — and it was published about eight months after the fact of Doug’s resignation as BCA elder.
On November 10, Scott Brown, a long-time friend of the Phillips, preached a sermon entitled, “The Smell of Apostasy.” This led people to believe Brown was preaching about the Phillips’ scandal.
On November 13, pastor and patriarchy proponent Doug Wilson mentioned the Phillips scandal in his blog post. He put the blame on the Victim, characterized her as a Delilah, and compared her to a stripper.
On November 14, Doug Phillips posted a follow-up to his original statement of “repentance,” a Clarification on Resignation. He issued this second follow-up statement because the Vision Forum Ministries board believed his first statement was misleading and deceptive. The first letter made it look like this was just an emotional affair, when in fact, Doug confessed to his board and church to a “long-term inappropriate relationship.”
2014: Recent Actions and Concluding Thoughts
On January 1, 2014, the remaining BCA elders responded to the implorings received from several godly men for them to release a statement quickly about former BCA elder Doug Phillips. The result was a pitiful statement released by the elders of BCA.
On March 13, Doug Phillips’ attorney sent a letter to three former Vision Forum associates — Bob Renaud, Jordan Muela, and Peter Bradrick — threatening a lawsuit. According to a recent article in World magazine, that letter states, “The three of you have conspired together, and with others, in an attempt to destroy Doug Phillips, his family and Vision Forum Inc.”
This is an account of the double life of Douglas Winston Phillips, as has been exposed to date. This is not the story of a simple “emotional affair” as he had portrayed it. In fact, Doug Phillips apparently continues to refuse using the biblical definition for this illicit affair — adultery — but that is what his church elders called it, and that is what it should be called. Also, Sources note that since the BCA elders rebuked Doug publicly in November of 2013, he has allegedly been slandering the various men who stood up against him. And now his letter to three men indicates potential legal action to protect his reputation and resources. Are these the humble actions of a repentant man, as Doug Phillips himself would have people believe?
The Victim was groomed to play the role she did. Although she was apparently over the age of majority when Doug Phillips began drawing her into his orbit, the fact that he was in a clergy role of authority over her still brings in legal implications of clergy sexual abuse according to definitions in Texas state law, as noted in an earlier post. Regardless of grooming and activity, she was still his Victim. Since choosing to tell her account of the facts, which she began doing in August of 2013, she has continued moving toward healing and health as a Survivor of spiritual and sexual abuse by Doug Phillips.