A once-powerful Southern Baptist leader allegedly attempted to “break down” a woman who reported a rape amongst his flock of the faithful, according to a statement released by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Friday.
Paige Patterson was demoted by the Seminary’s board of trustees on May 23, after shocking comments about abused women came to light. Patterson had led the Fort Worth, Texas institution since 2003. Last month, a recording surfaced where he advised abused women not to file for divorce, but instead to “be submissive in every way that you can,” a teaching in line with the Christian bible.
Next came a Washington Post story about Patterson allegedly badgering a female student not to report a rape that occurred in 2003 at his former seminary, the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, located in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Patterson also allegedly urged the woman, Megan Lively, who has since gone public, to forgive the man who committed the sexual assault.
The Southwestern seminary had initially given Patterson the demotion as a slap on the wrist, but largely stood by him, saying, in a statement, “the board affirmed a motion stating 1) evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse, 2) the Seminary stands against all forms of abuse.” In response to the initial outrage, the seminary simply removed Patterson from his leadership position while keeping him on, “as President Emeritus with compensation.”
Patterson was finally fired on May 30 after additional details came to light about a separate incident from 2015. According to that statement, released by Board of Trustees Chairman Kevin Ueckert:
Dr. Patterson sent an email (the contents of which were shared with the Board on May 22) to the Chief of Campus Security in which Dr. Patterson discussed meeting with the student alone so that he could “break her down” and that he preferred no officials be present. The attitude expressed by Dr. Patterson in that email is antithetical to the core values of our faith…Moreover, the correlation between what has been reported and also revealed in the student record regarding the 2003 allegation at [the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary] and the contents of this email are undeniable.
The statement also relays an apparent instance of lying by Patterson to the Southwestern seminary’s board. Ueckert notes, “[A]n allegation of rape was indeed made by a female student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003. This information contradicts a statement previously provided by Dr. Patterson in response to a direct question by a Board member regarding the incident referenced in our May 30 statement. The 2003 rape allegation was never reported to local law enforcement.”
[image via screengrab]