'Break Her Down': Southern Baptist Leader Covered Up Rape Allegations


The former head of the Southern Baptist Convention and two of the most prominent Southern Baptist seminaries in the United States has been fired and stripped of benefits after it was revealed he had sought a meeting with an alleged rape victim to “break her down,” The Daily Caller reported.

Dr. Paige Patterson used the phrase in a 2015 email to the chief of campus security at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was fired from the school and stripped of all benefits Wednesday after an internal investigation revealed he had mishandled multiple sexual abuse allegations there and at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, another seminary where he was president.

The investigation came after a May 22 article by The Washington Post which reported Patterson “allegedly encouraged a woman who said she had been raped not to report it to the police and told her to forgive her alleged assailant.”

Patterson first came under fire earlier this spring after audio from 2000 revealed he counseled a woman against divorcing her abusive husband, saying that her reaction “depends on the level of abuse to some degree” and that abused wives ought to “do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can.” He urged her instead to pray for her husband.

After the audio came out, Patterson defended the advice he gave 18 years ago.

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“Am I going to tell a woman like that she is wrong to take the matter to God?” Patterson said. “I don’t think so.”

Then came the May 22 article, which detailed an alleged 2003 rape which the school hadn’t reported to the police at Patterson’s urging.

The victim “said she had been dating the man she alleges raped her and had allowed him into her apartment the night she said he assaulted her. The two were kissing when he forced himself on her, she said. She said she reported it the next morning to the administrator who handled student discipline. That administrator then reported the incident to Patterson, she said, and she was required to meet with Patterson and three or four male seminarians she said were proteges of Patterson’s. She said she doesn’t remember the specific words Patterson used but that he wanted to know every detail of the rape.”

“Patterson and other administrators did not report the incident to the police, and she claims that Patterson encouraged her not to, as well, she said. The Post confirmed that a report was never filed with the Wake Forest Police Department.”

“They shamed the crap out of me, asking me question after question,” the woman said.

“He didn’t necessarily say it was my fault, but (the sense from him was) I let him into my home.”

The woman in question added that she was put on probation for two years for reasons that weren’t made clear to her. She left the school in 2005 for reasons other than the sexual assault or probation.

According to the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s head of the board of trustees, Kevin Ueckert, Patterson gave contradictory statements to the board during their investigation of the 2003 rape.

And then there was the alleged 2015 rape. That incident was reported to police — although Patterson later publicly intervened, seemingly to stop the case from going forward.

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“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,” Ueckert says.

“The attitude expressed by Dr. Patterson in that email is antithetical to the core values of our faith and to (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary). 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.”

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture