UPDATE July 27, 2018
The site JusticeforAnne.com released a statement about the IMB’s response to Anne Miller’s case and J.D. Greear’s announcement that he will be forming a Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group. The group, comprised of a handful of victim advocates, says that while they are thankful for the statements made by David Platt and J.D. Greear, “ultimately the follow-through is what will demonstrate the sincerity of the IMB and SBC leadership.”
The group is asking the SBC and IMB to ensure their investigations are “truly independent”. The statement explains what truly independent means:
A truly independent investigator is not a lawyer paid by the SBC or IMB; nor is it an organization with previous ties to the SBC or IMB, such as MinistrySafe (the organization used in the Andy Savage scandal). A truly independent investigation will be from a qualified, outside party.
Essentially, the group is calling on the SBC and IMB to resist the temptation to use the investigations solely as a means to cover themselves and avoid lawsuits and public fallout. They are asking for the SBC to make the investigation’s findings public and use them to inform protocols for the future.
Anne Miller endorsed the group and the statement on her Twitter account.
In 2007, Anne Miller approached the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Missions Board with a complaint: 10 years earlier Miller had been sexually abused by one of their missionaries. While the IMB conducted an internal investigation in 2007, they did not report the incident to authorities. Now over 10 years later, David Platt, the head of the IMB, has responded to Miller’s complaint and indicated the IMB handled the situation poorly.
“I want to publicly apologize for the hurt and pain that Anne Miller has specifically suffered in this situation,” Platt writes in a statement released Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Platt thanked Miller for “the courage she showed in approaching IMB in 2007, and the courage she is showing now.”
Platt also communicated he is commencing an independent investigation of IMB’s past handling of sexual assault claims as well as an independent examination of the organization’s present practices.
Why Is This Apology to Anne Miller Happening Now?
In 2007, when Miller first approached the IMB about her past relationship with Mark Aderholt, who was working in eastern Europe as a missionary at the time, an internal investigation was conducted. Miller describes the investigation as “humiliating” and invasive in an article she wrote on her blog. The IMB concluded there had been an inappropriate relationship between Miller and Aderholt 10 years previous, when Miller was 16 years old and Aderholt 25. Miller says IMB asked her if she wanted to report the incident to law enforcement, but the IMB’s investigation left her raw and she did not feel she could handle another investigation emotionally. Aderholt resigned from his position with the IMB and at the time Miller felt that was enough.
After another 11 years and what appeared to be a cover-up on the part of the IMB, though, Miller was ready to report. In July of this year, Miller went to police in Arlington, Texas, and reported the relationship with Aderholt that occurred over 20 years ago now. Aderholt was arrested on July 3 on charges of sexual assault against a child under 17 and two counts of indecency with a child—sexual contact.
Although he was no longer a missionary, Aderholt continued to serve in various leadership positions in SBC churches. Aderholt took a position as an assistant pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the years that followed, he rose through the ranks of the SBC to eventually become the associate director and chief strategist of the South Carolina Baptist Convention in 2016. Miller reached out to the IMB after the 2007 investigation to ask for more details about what the investigation concluded and, more pointedly, why Aderholt was allowed to be in leadership, albeit under a different organization’s roof.
The SBC Is (Now) Listening
Miller took to Twitter to thank Platt and the SBC-affiliated Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee’s Russell Moore for speaking with her and taking her case seriously.
Unspeakably grateful for EVERYONE’s support for the @IMB_SBC & #SBC to do the right thing. @plattdavid @drmoore & I spoke earlier this evening by phone and I am deeply encouraged by their words and the actions that will follow. @jdgreear also voiced support by email. THANK YOU. https://t.co/oQbYlhUmog
— Anne Miller (@girlnamedanne) July 26, 2018