Ex-Trump Spiritual Adviser Asked Accuser for Price to Keep Quiet


More than two decades after Cindy Clemishire alleges she was sexually assaulted by Robert Morris, starting when she was just 12 years old, the Gateway Church pastor asked her an alarming question aimed at keeping her quiet.

“Put a price on it,” Morris said on Sept. 22, 2005, according to a phone call transcript obtained by NBC News through a former Gateway staffer.

When Clemishire responded that it was “not a small number,” Morris pushed back after noting that money did not make her happy and he could understand that.

“Two million dollars,” Clemishire responded before Morris ended the call, the transcript states.

But the shocking phone conversation—which came after emails between Clemishire and Morris in which she asked for compensation over her trauma—did not lead to the downfall of the Texas megachurch pastor who would go on to serve as former President Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser. That would take nearly another two decades—when Clemishire finally publicly told a church watchdog site earlier this month about the sexual abuse she allegedly endured at the hands of Morris in the 1980s.

Clemishire told The Wartburg Watch that the abuse started around Christmas in 1982 when a then 21-year-old Morris was staying at her family’s Texas home. She says that Morris invited her into his room, where he allegedly instructed her to lay on her back before he groped her and felt under her underwear. The assault was the first of many similar encounters she said occurred over the next nearly five years—and that Morris told her never to discuss it because it would “ruin everything.”

Shortly after Clemishire shared her story, Morris confessed to engaging in “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady.” He has since resigned from his post at Gateway, which he founded in 2000 and is estimated to attract nearly 100,000 patrons weekly.

“When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying, it was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years,” Morris said in a statement to The Christian Post.

Morris, who did not name Clemishire, then admitted to several sexual occasions until “the situation was brought to light” in March 1987. While he was never charged with a crime, he said he confessed to church elders, asked for forgiveness, and that “the sin was dealt with correctly.”

NBC News previously reported that Morris took steps to pay off Clemishire in 2005 in a series of emails.

“Twenty-three years after you began destroying my life, I am still dealing with the pain and damage you caused,” Clemishire reportedly wrote on Sept. 20, 2005. “I want some type of restitution. Pray about it and call me.”

The call came two days later and included Morris’ wife, according to the transcript. Clemishire told NBC in a statement that it wasn’t until 2005, after years of “profound confusion” that she realized Morris’ actions were a crime.

“I was literally sick to my stomach and wanted to finally hold him accountable,” she said. “The call with Robert Morris had nothing to do with money; it was about my anger and my need to confront him so that he finally knew that I knew what he had done to me.”

In the call, according to the transcript, Clemishire referred to her emails that said she planned to go public or seek criminal charges against him unless he paid for his actions.

“Well, I don’t think money is going to help you,” Morris said, according to the transcript.

“Who said it was going to help me?” Clemishire said, interrupting him. “It is certainly helping you.”

Later, she insisted that she was not trying to blackmail Morris after he noted it would be wrong for him to pay her for her silence. Then, he asked her for her price, which she initially did not want to name in a dollar amount.

The Microsoft World transcript of the call was provided to NBC by a former member of the church’s IT department after the staffer said he found it while transferring files from Morris’ computer over a decade ago. The document, titled “Transcription of recorded phone conversation with Cindy Clemishire” and created in October 2007, did not indicate who initiated the phone call and had not been modified since it was created.

A Gateway Church spokesperson told NBC that church leaders have not seen the transcript and could not comment on its authenticity.

“We take all of this extremely seriously and abuse of any sort simply cannot be tolerated,” the spokesperson told the outlet.“Gateway Church has engaged outside counsel who is conducting an independent and comprehensive inquiry into this entire matter.”

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