Paige Patterson fired over mishandling abuse case
by Leigh Jones
Posted 5/31/18, 10:33 am
The governing board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, voted Wednesday to strip former President Paige Patterson of his retirement benefits and status as “president emeritus” following an internal investigation into his handling of sex abuse claims. Patterson’s downfall began earlier this month over his comments about women, abuse, and divorce. Then, last week, a former student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., where Patterson was president from 1992 to 2003, revealed in a Washington Post report that Patterson told her to forgive the man who raped her and encouraged her not to report the incident to police.
Megan Lively announced on Twitter Monday that she was the Southeastern student at the center of the controversy, saying she was “not afraid, ashamed, or fearful.” Current Southeastern President Daniel Akin responded to Lively, tweeting, “Please know of our continued love, prayers and support. We are here for you.” Southeastern is conducting an internal investigation of Lively’s case.
Southwestern’s board initially tried to strike a middle ground in sanctioning Patterson for his behavior, but on Wednesday, board members said the latest information required further action. In its statement announcing Patterson’s punishment, the board insisted the seminary “stands against all forms of abuse and grieves for individuals wounded by abuse.” Patterson was a fixture in the Southern Baptist Convention, credited with leading a conservative resurgence within the denomination in the 1980s and 1990s. But as calls for his firing multiplied, SBC leaders distanced themselves from the former leader.
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Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on education for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital.