FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The president of a leading Baptist seminary in Texas was dismissed because of his response to two rape allegations made years apart by students, according to officials at the Fort Worth-based school.
Kevin Ueckert, board chairman for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a statement Friday criticized the actions of former President Paige Patterson.
Ueckert said Patterson sent an email to the head of campus security in 2015 to say he wanted to meet alone with a student who told him she had been raped, to “break her down.”
The attitude expressed by Patterson in the email was “antithetical to the core values of our faith,” Ueckert said.
Patterson also was criticized by the board for his response to a student’s allegation of rape in 2003 when Patterson was president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
That allegation was never reported to law enforcement, and Ueckert said Patterson gave contradictory information to the board when asked about it.
A working phone number for Patterson could not be found Saturday to answer the allegations.
Also contributing to the downfall of one of the leading figures of the Southern Baptist Convention were documents requested by the North Carolina school.
Southeastern Baptist had requested the return of any school records Patterson took with him when he departed to become president of Southwestern Baptist in 2003. Through an attorney, Patterson initially claimed last month not to have any such records, Ueckert said. But then the attorney later provided records clearly indicating they belonged to Southeastern Baptist, the board chairman said.
Shortly after the records were turned over, the wife of Patterson’s chief of staff posted them online as part of a blog entry, Ueckert said. The records included the names of students and other information not authorized for release by officials at either school, he said.
“I believe this was inappropriate and unethical,” Ueckert said.
The Fort Worth seminary initially named the 75-year-old Patterson as president emeritus on May 23 after pushing him out of his position as president. The board at the time said that he and his wife could continue to live on campus as theologians-in-residence. But trustees later cut all ties after confirming the new allegations against him, officials previously said.
Patterson had drawn scrutiny in recent months based on accusations that he made remarks about a teenage girl’s body, said female seminarians should work hard to look attractive and argued that abused women should almost always stay with their husbands.
The comments led to a letter from a group of “concerned Southern Baptist women” dated May 6 to the board, asking trustees “to exercise the authority you have been given by the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and to take a strong stand against unbiblical teaching regarding womanhood, sexuality and domestic violence.”
Patterson issued an apology days later: “I wish to apologize to every woman who has been wounded by anything I have said that was inappropriate or that lacked clarity,” his statement said. “Please forgive the failure to be as thoughtful and careful in my extemporaneous expression as I should have been.”