Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Rape Victim's Story Is the Final Straw at SWBTS

Sunday evening after a long day of ministry, I sat down to relax with my wife when I received the following email. It gives me no joy to make this email public, but I do so at the encouragement of the women who sent it to me, keeping anonymous names at this time.


7:48 PM, Sunday, May 20, 2018

Hello Mr. Burleson,

One student was raped, with the potential of others I am afraid, but I don’t yet have confirmation,  while Paige Patterson was President at the seminary where I was a student at the time, working on my M.Div.

I confirmed this week the attacker admitted to the awful act less than a year after the nonconsensual sexual assault occurred. The seminary documented the perpetrator's confession. The man who committed the sexual assault on me (and possibly others) was expelled from the seminary and told he could never attend any of the six Southern Baptist seminaries in the future.

But here is the worst part. The student (victim) was counseled by Dr. Paige Patterson and told that she should not go to the police.

I know. Because the student was me.


The sender of the email gave me her name and email information, asking for advice. I reached out to her via email, giving her my cell number. 

Later Sunday evening, the woman called. 

The rape occurred over a decade ago. The woman is now married. She's strong and has moved on with her life. God has blessed her with children of her own. 

She never told her husband what happened to her when she was 23 and in seminary until last week. She was too ashamed. For years she battled depression and feelings of guilt, even though the attacker forced himself on her. She had reported the attack to the dean of students immediately.

Within hours, President Paige Patterson called her. "Come to my office. I'd like to speak with you."

The story of what happened in the President Patterson's Office is in this woman's own words.


When Dr. Patterson contacted me, I was scared to death. I had only told the Dean of Students, and now the President was calling me.

I came to Dr. Patterson's office alone. 

When I arrived, Dr. Patterson introduced me to four other men he had in his office. I don't remember who they were, but I think I remembered him calling them 'my proteges.'

He asked me to take a seat. 

Then, Dr. Patterson began asking me questions. I could tell he'd been told of the sexual assault because the questions he asked me were very graphic. I'll never forget the look on his face and in his eyes. He wanted every detail. He wanted me to vividly describe every aspect of the assault. 

The attacker had sodomized me anally. 

Dr. Patterson tried to convince me that I hadn't been raped. "At least he didn't violate Matthew 5:27," President Patterson said. I began to feel ashamed. I felt Dr. Patterson was trying to make me feel that what happened to me was no big deal. 

I was very uncomfortable being forced to describe the attack in the presence of Dr. Patterson and his proteges. I began to feel I had to defend myself on why I even reported the rape to the Dean of Students in the first place. My discomfort was compounded by the fact there were many men in the room.

But what really upset me was Dr. Patterson's advice to me.

"Don't go to the police. This is not a matter for law enforcement. We'll handle this matter internally." 

I left the office feeling confused, even a little crazy. Where was justice? Where were my defenders? I know this sounds strange, but I felt as if I'd been raped twice. 

I didn't go to the police.  If you ask me why, the only thing I can say is I was in an office filled with men and the President of the Seminary, you do what they ask."


Megan, the above you can change ANY way you desire. Add - take away. Make it yours and make sure it is truthful. 

I need you to add a short paragraph here -___________________________

To explain what led you down this path to come forward now.

I admire your courage. If you get a chance, after making a few changes, you might give me a call. I have a couple of questions.


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