UPDATE May 23, 2018
The Baptist Press reported early this morning that a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustees meeting that lasted until 3 a.m. local time in Fort Worth, Texas, came to a decision about whether or not to keep Paige Patterson on as president of the seminary. The board decided to name Patterson president emeritus, effective immediately. They have asked the dean of the school, Jeffrey Bingham, to step in as interim president. Additionally, the board determined “evidence exists” that Patterson complied with laws of reporting alleged sexual abuse.
More details of the board’s decision will be released today Baptist Press stated.
The Washington Post broke a story this afternoon about a former student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. The student claims she was raped while at Seminary and told not to report the incident to police. Additionally, she was placed on probation. The alleged incident occurred while Paige Patterson was the president of SBTS.
The woman, who has not been identified at this point, decided to go to the Washington Post after thousands of people called for Patterson’s resignation amidst troubling comments he’s made in the past encouraging a woman to stay with her abusive husband, among others. According to the woman’s account to the Washington Post, the alleged incident occurred in 2003 as she was attending SBTS to pursue a master’s of divinity degree in women’s studies. The only personal information the article gives about the woman is that she did not finish her degree and she now works in public relations in North Carolina.
“I had bottled it up,” said the woman, speaking of the incident. “My husband didn’t know about it until last week. … I told him ‘I need to do something.’”
The woman claims she had been dating a fellow student at the seminary and invited him back to her apartment. She says as they were kissing, he forced himself on her. According to the WP, the next morning the woman took action to report the incident.
She said she reported it the next morning to the administrator who handled student discipline. That administrator then reported the incident to Patterson, she said, and she was required to meet with Patterson and three or four male seminarians she said were proteges of Patterson’s. She said she doesn’t remember the specific words Patterson used but that he wanted to know every detail of the rape.
Patterson and other administrators did not report the incident to the police, and she claims that Patterson encouraged her not to, as well, she said. The Post confirmed that a report was never filed with the Wake Forest Police Department.
The woman was then placed on a two-year probation, the reason for which she is not clear on. She speculates it might have been because she had a man in her apartment, which was against seminary policy. A former roommate of the alleged assailant also spoke to the WP. He confirmed the woman told him about the incident and the way she was treated by Patterson and the seminary’s leadership, shortly after it happened.
The former roommate, who also is not identified, in order to protect the identity of the woman, told WP “she wants people to know how Patterson is and how he thinks about women and abuse. For him to still be in power eats at her soul.”
The woman also shared a letter that was given to her by SBTS’s dean of students in 2003. In it, Alan Moseley states, “It is evident that your memories of moral lapses with [the alleged assailant’s name] cause you sadness and humiliation,” and told her she would be put on probation and potentially expelled if her subsequent behavior was deemed inappropriate by the school.
About three years ago, the woman claims, her assailant reached out to her on Facebook to ask for forgiveness. She gave it to him since that’s what we’re taught to do in the Bible. She was also allegedly told to do that from the leadership of SBTS at the time she disclosed the incident to them.
Last week the woman reached out to SBTS’s current president, Danny Akin, to obtain information about her assailant’s student file. Akin declined to give her a copy of the file, but apparently read some of the information to her over the phone. While Akin declined to give evidence that the rape was recorded on the student’s record and chose not to speak to WP when asked for comment, the woman says he did send her an email. In it, Akin told her, “If you wish to press charges and go public we will fully support you. I simply want to do what you want in all of this.”
The woman regrets not going to the authorities when the incident happened, something she says she would do if it had happened to her today.