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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letters

Letter to Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Letter to the Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, urging suspension of president Paige Patterson

January 8, 2008

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.


David Clohessy
SNAP National Director
(314) 566-9790 / [email protected]

Christa Brown
SNAP Baptist Outreach Director
P.O. Box 162714
Austin, TX 78716
(512) 217-1730 / [email protected]

Barbara Dorris
SNAP Outreach Director
(314) 862-7688 / [email protected]

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests