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Southern Baptist missionary arm seeks sexual assault victims of former leader

Nichole Manna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Religious News

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The missionary arm of the Southern Baptist Convention is reaching out to potential victims of a former Southern Baptist leader who was indicted in December on a charge of child sexual abuse.

Mark Edwin Aderholt, 47, was arrested on July 3 in South Carolina on a warrant issued in the Tarrant County, Texas, case. Court records in Tarrant County show an indictment was handed up on a charge of sexual assault of a child under 17. Aderholt had worked for the International Mission Board during the 2000s.

The International Mission Board is the missionary arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Aderholt, a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate, resigned last summer from the South Carolina Baptist Convention when his accuser came forward about the assault, which she said happened in 1996.

In the email sent Thursday, Stephen Haber, a human resources official with the International Mission Board, said it had hired a third-party group to conduct an investigation into its handling of past allegations of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. One of the reviews was of Aderholt, who served as a career missionary in Europe from approximately 2000 to 2007.

The International Mission Board has said it did not know about the allegations against Aderholt at the time of his employment. However, it knew of the allegations against him in 2007, according to police records, emails and an internal investigation from the organization.

The International Mission Board did not report the allegations to authorities.

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"While we are not aware of Mr. Aderholt engaging in any acts of child sexual abuse, sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct during his time of service with IMB, it is our desire to ensure that we learn of any victims of sexual abuse so that we can offer counseling resources to help them," Haber wrote.

He sent the email to people who could have been in contact with Aderholt during that timeframe or whose children could have been in contact with him.

"On behalf of IMB, I want you to know that we are taking this matter very seriously and are committed to reaching out to any potential victims," Haber wrote.

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