(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — Advocates for sex abuse victims have called on actor Billy Baldwin and his production company to cancel plans to film a movie on the grounds of a Florida evangelical church that was scarred by a child molestation scandal.
Baldwin, 48, is set to shoot the film, Blind Faith, on the campus of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, where its founder, Robert “Bob” Gray Jr., was alleged to have molested more than 20 young children in the 1970s and 1980s.
Gray was arrested in 2006, but died at age 81 before he could be prosecuted. For 38 years, ending in 1992, when he fled the country, he led the church and its Trinity Christian Academy, where his accusers were elementary students or parishioners.
The film is not about the sex scandal, and is instead based on the true story of a high school senior who struggles to become the first blind person to play football. Baldwin plays the coach who gave Christian inspiration to the real-life athlete Michael Chastain.
“Blind Faith is supposed to be an uplifting story meant to inspire others,” leaders from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wrote in a letter sent on Monday. Please don’t cause these victims more pain by allowing the site of their torture to profit from your movie. We beg you to consider the atrocities that these men and women suffered when considering where to shoot your film.”
Officials at Trinity Baptist Church say they have not yet been contacted by SNAP, nor have they received the letter.
“We believe the movie Blind Faith, and the real life story it portrays will be an inspiration to everyone who sees it,” said Daniel Riddick, the church’s director of communications. “We are privileged to be able to provide our facilities without charge to make filming of the movie in Jacksonville possible. Trinity serves thousands of people in Northeast Florida each week through multiple ministries, and the protection of minors is a high priority in every ministry.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio