TATES CREEK Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, announced on Thursday that well-known contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter Chris Rice, above, is facing ‘credible’ allegations of sexually assaulting a former male student.
Robert H Cunningham, the church’s senior pastor, said the allegations against Rice – known for hits such as “Smile” – comes in the wake of a 2019 investigation of one of their former pastors, Brad Waller, that proved he had abused “multiple students in our youth ministry.”
Although Rice was not an employee of the church, he was close friends with Waller and had been hired on multiple occasions between 1995 and 2003 “to lead worship at our youth and college retreats,” Cunningham said.
Through this arrangement, Rice was able to develop close relationships with “multiple students” and one of those students recently came forward with abuse allegations.
Cunningham said in a statement on the church’s website:
Last week, one of those male students called to inform me of allegations that Mr. Rice had sexually assaulted him on multiple occasions. While these remain allegations at this point, we are treating them as credible because of the source of the allegations and corroborating evidence we have discovered.
Immediately, I informed the police and called a meeting of our church elders. At that meeting, the elders unanimously voted to once again contract with GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to conduct another independent investigation into these new discoveries. We are determined to uncover the extent of the alleged abuse, along with any way our church and the leadership at that time may have been complicit.
Krispin Mayfield, a therapist and co-host of the weirdly named Prophetic Imagination Station and Attached to the Invisible Podcasts, said as a survivor who was inspired by Rice’s music, he found the allegations especially difficult. He said:
It’s a horrible feeling when you find out that the person whose music helped you survive while you were being sexually abused has been reported of sexually abusing kids your age during that time.