Health & Spirit

Woman who was told her rape was a 'good thing' by former Southern Baptist leader files lawsuit

Nichole Manna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Religious News

FORT WORTH, Texas -- A woman who said she was threatened and humiliated after reporting multiple rapes to former Southern Baptist Convention president Paige Patterson has filed a lawsuit against him.

The lawsuit, which was filed by a former student of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, was unsealed this week.

It says the woman was the victim of multiple violent sexual assaults on the school's campus by a fellow student, who also was employed at the seminary, in 2014 and 2015. But even before she became a student, the lawsuit says, the seminary "was not a safe place for young women."

"Void of even the most basic standards of support for victims required by state and federal law, SWBTS had put in place a construct in which sexual harassment and violence were ignored -- or at times -- even celebrated by its leaders," the lawsuit says. "Through intimidation and victim-blaming, any young woman who dared speak up was shamed into silence."

Patterson was removed as the SBC president last year because of how he handled sex abuse claims, including an email in which he reportedly asked to meet with a student to "break her down" after she said she was raped.

That woman is referred to in the lawsuit by the pseudonym Jane Roe.


Patterson threatened Roe's family and asked if her attacker had ejaculated during the reported rapes, the lawsuit says. He also told her that it was a "good thing" the rape happened because the right man won't care if she's a virgin or not. It claims Patterson seemed to get joy out of asking Roe uncomfortable questions.

An attorney for the woman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2018 that Patterson sent around an email calling the woman's mother "nuts."

Patterson's lawyer, who didn't immediately return a call for comment on Friday, has previously said he has "not found one credible" allegation against his client, including accusations that he told the alleged rape victim it was "good" she was raped and that he told another not to report what happened to police.

The lawsuit says that Roe met the student who would later rape her in September 2014. He was employed as a plumber on the campus and is identified as John Doe in the lawsuit.


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