A chapel service for the seminary community and a meeting for campus residents have followed the arrest of a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary student on sexual assault charges on Saturday, March 17.
Daniel Akin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary president.
The SEBTS student, William Watson Birch, 43, was compliant with police and confessed to the crime against a 25-year-old male student at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus. Birch has been removed from student housing and expelled from the seminary.
In a special chapel on Tuesday (March 20), Daniel Akin, Southeastern’s president, opened with a reading from Isaiah 53 and then clarified misconceptions and misinterpretations stemming from media reports about the weekend’s circumstances.
“It has been alleged by some media sources,” Akin said, “that Southeastern acted irresponsibly in notifying our student body. Honestly, we moved very quickly and the sexual perpetrator was quarantined and no one was in further danger after his apprehension. Since then, our primary concern has been to protect the victim and the seminary family. Also, I pledge to you, the Southeastern family, that I never, nor will I ever cover up any facts that concern our institution and family at Southeastern.”
Akin met in his office on Monday with Birch after he (Birch) posted a $50,000 bail. Akin spoke of Birch’s shame and repentance over what had happened. Akin said Birch asked for forgiveness and that he (Akin) confirmed his forgiveness.
“Not only did I forgive him for what he had done,” Akin said, “but I want to let you know that Birch’s victim has already forgiven him as well.”
Source: Baptist Press
Reported by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s communications staff.