You remember Paige Patterson. He’s the former Southern Baptist Convention leader who once offered “advice” to women trapped in abusive marriages by telling them to stay and pray. In a separate sermon, he made creepy sexual remarks about an underage girl. As president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he once told an alleged rape victim to not talk to the police and forgive the rapist. And last September, he body-shamed a woman during a sermon while also condemning those who make false accusations against men (as if that routinely happens).
Outside of committing any acts of misconduct himself, Patterson is basically a poster boy for how to do everything wrong when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment, responding to allegations of sexual abuse, and talking about women.
And now there’s yet another allegation of his irresponsible, dickish handling of a serious assault case.
In a lawsuit that was filed last month, but only unsealed on Thursday, a woman listed as “Jane Roe” says she was raped at gunpoint by a student/employee at the seminary around 2015. The assailant even took pictures of her during the rape as blackmail to use against her if she told anyone what happened.
She decided to tell Paige Patterson, anyway, at tremendous personal risk. And he responded by shaming and shunning her.
According to the lawsuit, he asked Roe if the man ejaculated inside of her, and if she had had her period — as if certain responses to those questions would mitigate the legitimacy of the rape. When Roe said she felt like “damaged goods” because she was no longer a virgin, Patterson responded by saying “it was ‘a good thing’ that she had been raped because the right man would not care if she was a virgin or not.” (I don’t understand how the second half of that sentence follows from the first.) Patterson also told her he was “too busy” to deal with her case because it was the beginning of the semester. He didn’t offer financial support so she could get medical care. And he “callously rejected Roe’s request for his prayers.”
Later when the seminary’s Chief of Campus Security asked if he could join Patterson for his next meeting with Roe, Patterson said that might not be necessary, adding “I have to break her down.”
Even after that, when Roe believed she was meeting with one of her professors for an unrelated issue, Patterson was in the room… and the Houston Chronicle summarizes this unbelievable incident:
… [Patterson] then told her he had obtained a copy of her confidential police report, and had reached out to Doe, who he said told him that they had a consensual relationship. Doe said he had nude photos of Roe that proved she consented to his advances, according to the suit.
The photos, Roe said, were taken while she was being raped at gunpoint in a bathroom.
Fort Worth law enforcement eventually searched Doe’s room and found nine weapons. He was expelled only for violating the school’s weapon ban. His expulsion frightened Roe because she felt he might retaliate against her. She said she felt suicidal and soon moved out of Texas altogether because she was “terrified for her safety.”
If all these allegations against Patterson are true, he wasn’t just an irresponsible school leader. He went out of his way to be as cruel as possible to a rape victim whose story, if it went public, could have damaged his school’s reputation.
This is the man who led the Southern Baptist Convention for years.
And this is the man who, stunningly, is now teaching a class called “Christian Ethics” at Southern Evangelical Seminary.
If you’re a Southern Baptist, this is what you’re supporting when you go to church and hand over your money. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)