Statement by Kevin Ueckert, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
By Kevin Ueckert on Jun 1, 2018
Based on a number of follow-up questions I have received this week, I am providing this additional statement related to our May 30, 2018 statement. The unanimous decision by the Executive Committee to immediately terminate Dr. Paige Patterson was prayerfully considered and warranted.
We confirmed this week through a student record, made available to me with permission, that an allegation of rape was indeed made by a female student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003. This information contradicts a statement previously provided by Dr. Patterson in response to a direct question by a Board member regarding the incident referenced in our May 30 statement. The 2003 rape allegation was never reported to local law enforcement. SWBTS will not release the student record to the public without additional appropriate permissions.
In addition, as previously disclosed, a female student at SWBTS reported to Dr. Patterson that she had been raped in 2015. Police were notified of that report. 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. 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.
Further, SWBTS received a request from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary requesting the return of any documents taken by Dr. Patterson upon his departure from Southeastern. Counsel for SWBTS, Michael Anderson, immediately reached out to counsel for Dr. Patterson, Shelby Sharpe, on May 25 and made inquiry regarding the documents. Mr. Sharpe advised Mr. Anderson that Dr. Patterson only took documents from Southeastern that belonged to him. Yet, independent of that request, following the May 30 Executive Committee meeting, SWBTS located Southeastern documents on the SWBTS campus and began taking steps to preserve them. Mr. Anderson is in contact with George Harvey, counsel for Southeastern, and is working with Mr. Harvey regarding Southeastern’s request for the return of its documents.
The morning after the May 30 Executive Committee meeting, Mr. Sharp provided a few documents he reportedly obtained from Dr. Patterson. The documents clearly dealt with Dr. Patterson’s tenure at Southeastern and should have been previously provided in response to Mr. Anderson’s May 25 request. Shortly after these documents were provided, the wife of Dr. Patterson’s Chief of Staff published a blog and attached these documents without the permission of the students referenced in the documents or appropriate leadership from SEBTS or SWBTS. I believe this was inappropriate and unethical. Regardless, the additional documents do not alter the decision of the Executive Committee.
Ultimately, the decision of the Executive Committee to immediately terminate Dr. Patterson was clear and unanimous.
I also want to reiterate what SWBTS Interim President Dr. Jeffrey Bingham said earlier this week. SWBTS denounces all abusive behavior, any behavior that enables abuse, any failure to protect the abused, and any failure to safeguard those who are vulnerable to abuse.
In this difficult situation, the Executive Committee based its decision on the current performance of the president and did not allow the legacy of Dr. Patterson or the #MeToo pressure to steer the outcome. We did not react; rather, we decisively exercised our responsibility based on the Seminary’s biblically informed core values and integrity.
I join Dr. Bingham in his call for the SWBTS community to join the Body of Christ in praying for healing for all individuals affected by abuse.
Patterson took with him to Southwestern a cache of papers from his tenure at Southeastern. Now, Southeastern wants them back.
Oh … ho-hum. There is plenty of room for good-faith disagreements over the proper ownership of at least some papers, so I’m disinclined to characterize them — yet — as ‘stolen.’ I’m sure the lawyers will sort it out.
How did these papers get into Ms. Colter’s hands, and how could she have thought she had a right to publish them?
It seems clear that Patterson attempted to bludgeon a second woman into making no fuss over being raped.
Were the men who were involved allowed to graduate, and are they pastoring churches today?
It can’t possibly be true that only women who attended seminaries headed by Paige Patterson have been victimized; what goes on at the other seminaries?
Y’all will not be surprised to learn that all right-minded Southern Baptist leadership is shocked and heartbroken.
My heart has been broken for my beloved Southern Baptist Convention in recent weeks, days, hours. Never more than in last few hours. WE are broken down, indeed. I pray for God to rescue us, and all those we are called to rescue.
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) June 2, 2018
Please: Patterson’s squalid conduct during the so-called Conservative Resurgence is well-documented; everybody with two eyeballs knows perfectly well that he is heavy-handed and manipulative. And is it even possible that Mohler truly does not know that sexual predators have been graduated by Southern Seminary, too? In a different way, Mohler’s pious mewling is just as hypocritical as Patterson’s cover-ups.
Last, people like me, and a great many others, have been talking about the systemic squalor, hypocrisy, dishonesty — on and on — of the Southern Baptist Convention for years; there is nothing really new in the latest round of scandals. All that has actually changed is that they can no longer be hidden and studiously ignored. These scandals and cover-ups are the unhappy truth about the Southern Baptist Convention, about who they have been for a very long, long time.
There will be no shortage of talk about brokenness and prayers for healing over the next several weeks. Every bit of it is wasted hot air, because the bad behavior now coming to light inheres in the Southern Baptist teaching that y’all are no damn good, in its systematic obliteration of character and personal agency, in its demand for unthinking obedience. This scandal, in all of its embarrassing particulars, is the realization of Southern Baptist teaching.