Blackwell stepped down from his position last week according to Religion News Service after he was accused of using $89,000 in charitable funds for his personal expenses over the past three years.
The investigation also revealed that Blackwell diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to a particular account created for his benefit. A report from forensic auditors alleged that he bought his wife a new car using charitable funds.
“The Forensic Report describes the personal nature of these expenses, which include snacks, drinks, nutritional supplements, clothes, health care costs, subscriptions, and stays at Structure House — a self-improvement center where program participants stay in ‘luxury apartments,’” according to a September 19 investigative report made public
The 81-year-old leader who had been on leave since May, when the investigation was launched, has agreed to pay back $88,803.14 in personal expenses charged over a three-year period to his company credit card.
He however denied any misconduct in a statement issued to the press and Baptist officials as well as in an interview with the Biblical Recorder, the State publication for North Carolina Baptists.
Blackwell was quoted by the Biblical Recorder as saying “There were some misunderstandings, (but) there certainly was no deliberate misuse of anything, ever on my part.” He added that he “had never deliberately done anything to bring harm to this ministry that is so deeply personal to me.”
Speaking about the summary report, Todd Unzicker, executive director of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina said “The actions identified by the summary report represent a betrayal of trust with the people that love and support the ministry.”
“We are encouraged to see BCH trustees move toward a change in executive leadership and seek restitution. They should be commended for commissioning an independent financial review and then acting swiftly upon receiving the results,” he added.
Blackwell is the most recent a line of Southern Baptist leaders to resign in the wake of a scandal, controversy, or allegations of mismanagement.