Survivors Network of
those Abused by Priests
Giving Voice to Victims
For Immediate Release:
January 9, 2008
For More Information:
David Clohessy, SNAP National Director, (314) 566-9790, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christa Brown, SNAP Baptist Director, (512) 217-1730, email@example.com
Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director, (314) 862-7688, firstname.lastname@example.org
Clergy sex abuse victims want seminary head ousted
He ignored repeated sexual abuse reports against pastor
That pastor is now accused of sending obscene messages to kids
Baptist official should have warned others but didn't, self-help group says
He's a former head of the SBC, America's largest Protestant organization
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging a Southern Baptist seminary to suspend its president because he failed to warn people about a reported serial predator.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing to the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, asking that they temporarily remove Paige Patterson as the school’s president. Media accounts indicate that in 1991, when Patterson was president of Criswell College in Dallas, he knew of reports that a high-profile African-American pastor had sexually assaulted and exploited female college students and church members, but that he kept quiet about it and instructed the students "to refrain from speaking" about it.
That pastor, who was allowed to move on, has just stepped down from a prominent Florida church in light of accusations that he sent obscene text messages to two underage girls recently.
"Surely an institution dedicated to the development of spiritual leaders should consider the sort of spiritual leadership exemplified by its own president who reportedly exhibited an extraordinarily blind-eyed response to clergy sex abuse," says SNAP in its letter.
The self-help group wants the trustees to investigate the matter and report their findings to the public.
Patterson is also a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country.
“More innocent and vulnerable Baptist teens and young people suffered because of Patterson's secrecy,” said Christa Brown of Austin, SNAP’s Baptist Director. “Those who make immoral and insensitive responses to clergy sex abuse should not be in positions of leadership for religious institutions."
News reports about minister stepping down in Florida :
Prior news reports about the minister's time in Texas and people's efforts to report him to Patterson:
Text of SNAP's letter to the Trustees, sent yesterday via email to Dr. Thomas White, the seminary's vice-president for communications, and via email and fax to Rev. Steven James, seminary trustee and pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, LA, with request to circulate to all other trustees:
Dear Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary:
SNAP is the nation’s oldest and largest support network for clergy abuse victims. Founded in 1989, we have more than 8000 members and 65 support groups across the country. We are people who have been raped, molested and abused by clergy, and we seek to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.
We are writing to ask that you suspend Paige Patterson from the presidency of your institution and that you conscientiously investigate the accounts that he turned a blind eye to clergy sex abuse when he was president of Criswell College.
Articles in the Dallas Morning News indicate that multiple Criswell College students said they had reported abuse or suspicions of abuse by Pastor Darrell Gilyard to Patterson. One said Gilyard tried to rape her. According to their accounts, Patterson told students “to refrain from speaking" about it. Others said Patterson would not take their calls and would not return calls. Finally, others said that, when they met with Patterson, they were grilled on their own past and psychological histories. According to the News, Patterson asked a counselor to work with Gilyard, but when the counselor tried to report that Gilyard had abandoned counseling, Patterson didn’t return his calls either.
Now, having been allowed to move from church to church (with no warning to unsuspecting congregants or vulnerable young people), Gilyard has been recently accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to underage teens in Florida . This often happens when a pastor’s predatory conduct goes unchecked: the hurtful and abusive conduct escalates.
As reported in the News, the accounts indicate that Patterson demonstrated a profound failure of moral judgment, a refusal to protect Criswell students who were under his charge, and a failure to warn others at risk about a reported serial predator.
Surely an institution dedicated to the development of spiritual leaders should consider the sort of spiritual leadership exemplified by its own president who reportedly exhibited an extraordinarily blind-eyed response to clergy sex abuse. We ask you to demonstrate this institution’s commitment to treating clergy sex abuse and cover-ups seriously by suspending Paige Patterson, fully investigating, and publicly reporting your findings.
SNAP National Director
(314) 566-9790 / email@example.com
SNAP Baptist Outreach Director
P.O. Box 162714
Austin, TX 78716
(512) 217-1730 / firstname.lastname@example.org
SNAP Outreach Director
(314) 862-7688 / email@example.com
of those Abused by Priests