Woman Sues Fort Worth Seminary, Former President She Says Told Her Being Raped Was ‘a Good Thing'

A woman is suing former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, claiming that he abused his position and failed to protect her when she reported being raped multiple times by a fellow student.The lawsuit, filed in March and unsealed earlier this month, also names the Fort Worth seminary as a defendant. It seeks unspecified damages, saying that the woman has suffered continuing emotional and physical pain as a result of the assaults and Patterson's response to them.An attorney for Patterson, Shelby Sharpe, could not be reached for comment Friday. Sharpe has previously said that the woman made several "contradictory" statements to authorities and seminary officials about her assaults, and he has told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he had not heard "one credible attack" against Patterson.'Relentless'The woman, who uses the pseudonym Jane Roe in the lawsuit, says that she met her attacker — who was employed as a plumber on campus and had keys to all campus buildings — shortly after she began attending the seminary in September 2014. He quickly became infatuated with her, despite her rejection of him, she says, and "began to pursue her relentlessly."That October, the lawsuit says, Roe fell asleep in a lawn chair on campus and awoke to the man sexually assaulting her. He warned her not to tell anyone while showing her a gun, she says. He was physically and verbally abusive to her in the weeks that followed, and she took to wearing heavy makeup to hide her bruises.In April 2015, the man pushed his way into her home and raped her at gunpoint, then raped her again the next day, the lawsuit says. She eventually told her family about the assaults, and in August 2015 she reported them to Patterson.In a meeting Aug. 20, Patterson told the woman it was "a good thing" she had been raped and that he was "too busy" to deal with her report of the assaults at that time, the lawsuit claims.Patterson contacted Fort Worth police, and seminary officials later found that the man had a stash of nine weapons, including an assault rifle in his vehicle, the lawsuit says. He was expelled for violating the seminary's weapons policy, according to the lawsuit.'Break her down'In late September 2015, the seminary's chief of campus security wrote an email to Patterson asking whether he should attend a meeting between Patterson and Roe."Well we will see," Patterson replied, according to the lawsuit. "I have to break her down and I may need no official types there but let me see."During that meeting on Oct. 8, Roe's mother asked why the attacker had been admitted to the seminary and why Roe had never received an apology. Patterson "lunged across the table, firmly pointed his finger in her face and threatened to 'unleash' lawyers on her if she dared question his leadership," the lawsuit says.Patterson told Roe that her report being repeatedly raped was "just your word against his," the lawsuit says, and she left the meeting in tears. She later withdrew from the seminary and moved out of state.Roe was afraid of pursuing criminal charges against her attacker because he had threatened her and her family, the lawsuit says.Fired amid controversyPatterson later came under fire in May 2018 when a recording of him from 2000 began to recirculate online.In the recording, Patterson tells an interviewer that his advice for abused women is that "you have to do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can and to elevate" a husband.Patterson released a statement saying that he had never "counseled or condoned abuse of any kind" and that sexual and physical abuse should always be reported to police.But just weeks later, the seminary ousted Patterson as president over a number of remarks he had made about women over the years. As trustees held an emergency meeting about his future, The Washington Post published a report quoting a woman who said Patterson encouraged her not to report a 2003 rape at a North Carolina school where he had been president.Patterson was originally allowed to remain on campus as a "theologian-in-residence," but he was fired from that role the following week.A statement from the board of trustees' chairman, Kevin Ueckert, said that Patterson had misrepresented the 2003 case and then responded to Roe's report in a way that was "antithetical to the core values of our faith."  Continue reading...

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