Victory Baptist ‘Fight Church’ founding pastor pleads guilty to child sex abuse 3 years after son owned abuse charge

My wife and I began attending Victory Baptist Church (now Victory Church), an independent, fundamental Baptist church in Henrietta, (a suburb of Rochester) New York, as new Christians back in 1983. We continued there until 1991 (way too long) when we could no longer stomach macho-man pastor Joe Burress’ megalomania. It was a toxic church environment and the fundamentalist pastoral bullying and authoritarianism soured me on “churchianity” for many, many years.

As I reported back in September 2017 (see here), Joe’s son, Paul, took over as pastor of the church in 2011 when his father came down with an illness. With his keen interest in Mixed Martial Arts, Paul raised many eyebrows with his role as one of the primaries in the “Fight Church” (2014) documentary. After his recovery from illness, Joe continued at Victory as pastor-emeritus and Sunday School teacher for senior members.

Accusations that Paul was abusing young women at the church began surfacing on the internet in 2014. Paul was eventually arrested in 2017 and charged with molesting three young women who attended the church. In 2018, he pled guilty to one of the charges as part of a plea deal and received no jail time. Paul stepped down as pastor of Victory at the time of his arrest, but continued as a member there.

An old proverb states that an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but in this sickening twist, the tree was found to be in close proximity to its fallen apple. This morning, I was searching the news for stories for next weekend’s news round-up and came across the month-old article below.

This past June 2nd, 71-year-old Joe Burress pled guilty in town court to sexually abusing a female child. Two accusers had actually come forward testifying to abuse by Burress in the time periods of 2014 to 2017 and 2018 to 2020, but I suspect he was also allowed to plead guilty to only one of the charges as part of a plea deal. Both females were under the age of 14 at the time of the abuse. Burress is scheduled to be sentenced on September 2 in Town Court.

Below is a link to a video from one of the local television news channels regarding Joe Burress’ guilty plea. Note Joe’s demeanor as he exits the court building. Cocky and unrepentant to the bitter end.

The subscribers-only newspaper story below documents how three adult women have recently filed lawsuits against the Burresses and Victory for the toxic environment of abuse at the church dating back to the late-1970s.

Women say culture of secrecy at Victory Church enabled predators to abuse them as girls

I declined to name names in my previous posts about “Victory” church, but the Burresses don’t deserve the anonymity.

Postscript: There is no acknowledgement of pastor-emeritus Joe Burress’ arrest or guilty plea on Victory Church’s Facebook page or website other than the page for his Sunday School seniors group, ironically-named, “Partners in Prime,” has been deleted.

21 thoughts on “Victory Baptist ‘Fight Church’ founding pastor pleads guilty to child sex abuse 3 years after son owned abuse charge

    1. Yup, Marla. It was a bad culture there from the get-go. I imagine pastor Joe abused other children over the years but the victims kept quiet out of shame. It’s obviously not the same thing, but he also abused the entire congregation psychologically with his bullying and threats. Very evil. Bully pastors were somewhat the standard in independent fundamental Baptist churches.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I could write another two-thousand words on the Burress boys. The father was into karate and weightlifting, big time. A real “macho man,” always bragging about his strength and how he could easily beat up any man he wanted to. The son took the “macho man” shtick even farther. He was into mixed martial arts fighting and the entire church revolved around that “ministry.” He and his wife were into weightlifting/bodybuilding and both trotted around town with very tight-fitting cutoffs. She competed in the Mrs. New York State beauty pageant and there were photos of her in suggestive poses in bikinis all over the internet. Hardly a conventional pastor and pastor’s wife and that was exactly the image they wanted to project. One victim, a young man, said that she was complicit in the abuse. Paul enticed his young female victims via the weightlifting/fitness “ministry.”

      Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: Wicked, evil and sad.

      Yes. Thankfully we got out of that snakepit in 1991. The misguidedly loyal and credulous stayed and endangered their families for another thirty years.

      RE: Padres and Phillies

      Glad to see the Pads take ONE game in the series. The Friars (gulp, what a name) have to take two of three in every series if they’re going to keep pace with the red hot Giants and Dodgers.


  1. We have so many wolves in the church in this country. This story is very depressing. I’m glad they finally got caught. I remember you mentioning the father was very homophobic and brought that into the sermons. An aggressive angry person like that should have never been a pastor to begin with

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Joseph. That’s right. By personality both men were not qualified to be pastors. But in the independent fundamental Baptist movement, orneriness and bullying were viewed as positive qualities in pastors.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A solid Christian brother from my old church once said in jest that church is the most dangerous place to be. As they say, many a truth is said in jest. He was speaking of false doctrine. But we see it can be more than that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We learned A LOT of Bible at that church, BUT Burress was a manipulative bully and intimidator. It was close to cult-like in that respect. Girls and young women were at very high risk at that church, and not just from the Burresses. The hyper macho-man atmosphere fostered a locker-room mentality in regards to women.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. My jaw dropped when I stumbled upon the article yesterday morning, but the news wasn’t altogether surprising. It was a very “sick” culture at that church. Joe was able to run roughshod because the IFB encouraged pastoral bullying.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I can imagine that this was a very sick church culture; brother I don’t know if I can handle IFB culture or its excessive aspect that border the caricature.
        I also can’t imagine how some people can hurt kids and prey on them. That is so evil, sick and twisted. I just prayed for the victims…may God have mercy on them

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, brother. Burress used to bully and browbeat his congregants from the pulpit, but that was normal in the IFB. I’ve heard much worse from other IFB pastors. The Burresses’ hyper macho-man schtick compounded the standard IFB negatives. Of course, Paul shed all of the old IFB connections after he became pastor. He took Victory hook, line, and sinker in the direction of “Fight Church.”

        I’m still trying to wrap my head around Joe Burress sexually abusing children. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing he’s been abusing kids for a long time, until the two spoke up. He was a charismatic guy who could really feign an interest in people.

        Thanks for your prayers for the victims. Horrific to think about. And then having to live with those memories. I noticed that a woman who was victimized by Paul as a teenager had her WordPress blog shut down. She had recently posted about the latest news regarding Joe’s arrest and guilty plea.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. My jaw dropped to the floor when I stumbled across this news story Sunday morning. My heart goes out to the two victims. I can’t help but think there were many more over the years. I left that church 30 years ago, but the news was still like a knife in my back. I need to repent of hating that man and instead pray for him and his victims.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, very hard. To a degree, Burress’s family members, his wife and his daughter, are also victims. How is a family sustained after such monstrous behaviors by the husband/father?

        Liked by 1 person

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