Former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson has denied claims that he mishandled rape allegations presented to him by a former student, and claimed the First Amendment as a defense.
In a document filed in court on Monday, the 76-year-old Patterson, known for his part in leading the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, refuted the allegations levied against him in a federal lawsuit, according to Baptist News and The Houston Chronicle.
The lawsuit was filed in May in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas by a former student identified only as “Jane Roe.” It lists both Patterson and the SWBTS as defendants.
Roe alleged that Patterson mistreated her when she reported being raped by a male student-employee, identified as “John Doe,” in 2014 and 2015 and that she was fearful that the student could harm her or her family.
Roe alleged that she met with Patterson and other male leaders at the seminary to come forward about the sexual assaults in August 2015. The student accused Patterson of getting enjoyment out of making her feel uncomfortable with “humiliating questions” about the assaults.
She also accused the former seminary president of saying that it is a “good thing” that she was assaulted because “the right man would not care if she was a virgin or not.” Patterson, she claimed, told her that he was too busy to deal with her allegation because it was the start of the semester.
Although the student-employee accused of the assault was later expelled for having prohibited weapons on campus, the alleged victim said she was “offered no support or protection for Roe and her family.”
In the Monday court filing, according to Baptist News, Patterson refuted Roe’s characterization of his behavior in the lawsuit and also denied claims he shared false information about Roe for the purposes of distribution.
Patterson also argued that allegations of negligence have a two-year statute of limitations and that it would be a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to hold him (a leader of a religious body) responsible for conduct delegated to someone else under the governing documents of the institution.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith