Gateway Church pastor Robert Morris was accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in the 1980s.

SOUTH LAKE – Robert Morris, founder and pastor of Gateway Church, is accused of sexually assaulting a child in the 1980s.

The evangelical church, one of the largest in the United States, has nine campuses in North Texas. Morris founded the church’s first location in Southlake in 2000.

The wife, Cindy Clemishire, claims Morris sexually assaulted her beginning in 1982, when she was 12 years old. Morris was a traveling evangelist in his early twenties and had become close to his family.

The allegations against Morris were first published Friday by The Wartburg Watch, a church watchdog blog based in North Carolina. The Christian Post then picked up the story on Saturday.

Clemishire told The Wartburg Watch the alleged abuse continued until 1987.

In a statement to The Christian Post, Morris admitted to “inappropriate sexual behavior.”

“In my early 20s, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young woman in a house where I was staying,” he said. “It involved kissing, caressing, not sexual intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior occurred repeatedly over the next few years.”

According to a statement posted on social media by church elders, the allegations came to light 35 years ago.

After that, he left the ministry for two years to receive counseling. He admitted in a 2014 sermon that he was “sexually immoral” as a teenager.

He returned to ministry in March 1989, two years after his abuse came to light, he said with the blessing of the girl’s father and church elders.

He added that he and his wife met with the survivor and her family in October 1989.

Morris has already announced plans to hand over leadership of Gateway Church to his son James Morris next year, according to a biography posted on the church’s website, but Morris plans to continue giving some sermons.

As of Monday morning, there was no indication that Morris had resigned from his position.

CBS News Texas has reached out to the church for additional comment.

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