‘Break Her Down’: Southern Baptist Leader Covered Up Sexual Abuse Allegations, Seminary Says

Chuck Ross | Investigative Reporter

The former head of two prominent Southern Baptist seminaries sought a one-on-one meeting in 2015 with an alleged rape victim in order to “break her down,” seemingly so that she would not go public with her allegations.

Dr. Paige Patterson, the former president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, made the comment in an email to the chief of campus security, a trustee at the school told The Daily Caller News Foundation Friday.

Patterson was fired on Wednesday as president of SWBTS and stripped of benefits after it was revealed that he mishandled multiple sexual abuse allegations at SWBTS and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), two of the top Southern Baptist schools in the U.S.

The Washington Post published an article on May 22 which quoted a former SEBTS student who claimed that in 2003, Patterson asked her not to go to police with allegations that she was raped by a man she was dating at the time. (RELATED: Baptist Seminary Fires Ousted President Over Sexual Abuse Cover Up)

Patterson, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has been in the news in recent weeks after his past comments about spousal abuse resurfaced.

In 2000, Patterson said that a woman’s response to abuse by her husband “depends on the level of abuse to some degree.” He counseled against divorce, saying that battered wives should “do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can.”

Patterson did not report the 2003 incident to local police. He also gave contradictory statements about the 2003 case to SWBTS board members, Kevin Ueckert, the chairman of SWBTS’s board of trustees, said in a statement to TheDCNF Friday.

According to Ueckert, police were notified of the 2015 incident, but Patterson intervened at one point, seemingly hoping to dissuade the student from speaking publicly about the case.

“But in connection with that allegation of rape, 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,” says Ueckert.

“The attitude expressed by Dr. Patterson in that email is antithetical to the core values of our faith and to SWBTS. Moreover, the correlation between what has been reported and also revealed in the student record regarding the 2003 allegation at Southeastern and the contents of this email are undeniable.”

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