SWBTS denies liability in sexual abuse lawsuit

"SWBTS filed legal documents Wednesday (Aug. 7) answering the lawsuit by plaintiff 'Jane Roe,' according to the Eastern District of Texas federal court in Sherman." - BP News

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Bert Perry's picture

I'd expected an argument that the student agreed not to sue or something--that apparently is made impossible by the realities of the history of Title IX.  Instead, ...they're arguing that they could not see that the employees they'd hired and worked with for 15 years (specifically Paige Patterson) would act in the way they did. 

All I can say is "good luck with that".  I know that I'd be skeptical of that defense if I were a juror, no matter who the defendants were.    To make the defense work, you're going to have to come up with a bunch of cases where TItle IX complaints of similar magnitude were handled well, and to be blunt, I'm hoping and praying that SWBTS did NOT have very many cases where a student complained about forcible rape involving a weapon, for obvious reasons.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Actually, if it goes to trial, the burden falls on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant is guilty of the specified offenses.... if things are done properly. Of course, if it becomes a media and/or social media circus, we're far more likely so see the kind of guilty-until-proven- innocent scenario Bert has described.

Hopefully, the system operates the way its supposed to and facts are sifted out from generalizations and weighed against legal standards, and there is a fair ruling. It does still happen sometimes, fortunately.

Bert Perry's picture

No, Aaron, this is not a "guilty till proven innocent" scenario, and I've not proposed one.It's simply an appraisal of the legal argument.  The defendant with strong exonerating evidence will tend to lead with that.  The defendant without such evidence will lead with something else.

They are leading with something else, something else that seems rather preposterous from the board's 15 year interaction with Mr. Patterson.  The guy was not exactly an unknown quantity.  

Regarding social media, yes, it's involved, but not in the way you think.  The initial "built" and "black eyes" furor only led to his emeritus status and a cushy retirement from a board that clearly was in his corner.  It was only when Paige Patterson started releasing documents related to Title IX to the press via his friends that he was fired.  So you have either a case where (a) the contradiction between the press releases and the totality of the documents was too stark and/or (b) the DoEd was getting interested in the fact that Title IX documents were being leaked to the press.

So yes, social media, but led by none other than Paige Patterson.  And like the other evidence, it's not a good sign for the defense, either by SWBTS or Patterson. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Bert, I know I am a clueless fool. But why on Earth would a student complain to a school about being raped? The ONLY organization on the surface of the planet that could do anything about it is the POLICE.

Bert Perry's picture

Because the application of Title IX has required schools to act on allegations for a few decades, Mark, and because standard training of students has included Title IX requirements for that period of time.  I remember getting training along those lines when I started college in 1987.  So students are coming to their colleges first and foremost because they've been taught to do so per the law.  

Second of all, colleges have an interest in keeping their students safe, because if they don't, they'll stop coming.  It all has to do, really, with the uneasy tension between a school's responsibility and the government's responsibility.  I tend to agree that colleges ought to get as many allegations of sexual assault--unfiltered by their perspective as much as is possible--directly to governmental authorities.  

However, we live in the real world, a world where sexual assault victims know that there is about a 98% chance that their rapist will not be put in jail and a 97% chance that person will not even end up on Megan's List.  Couple that with the fact that in a lot of cases, the perpetrator used physical force, including deadly weapons, to get his way; is it any surprise in this light that a lot of victims want to just keep their heads down?

(which is how I explained this to you before....)

Hence there is a need predicated on a few factors for dealing with these issues at the college level, and the opportunity for civil lawsuits when this responsibility is bungled.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

Dr. Paige Patterson’s letter to the Houston Chronicle.

February 14, 2019

Mr. Steve Riley

Acting Editor

The Houston Chronicle

4747 Southwest Freeway

Houston, Texas 77027

Dear Mr. Editor:

For 42 years, I have said to each graduating class, “If you have not settled forever the issue of sexual purity, take your diploma tomorrow and leave church ministry altogether.”  I feel compelled to respond to the Houston Chronicle article in which I was cited. 

In the case of Darrell Gilyard, Dr. Keith Eitel (now a dean at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Dr. Danny Akin (now president at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) worked directly with me to uncover and confirm Darrell’s unfaithfulness to Christ.  Dr. Keith Eitel has film of the proceedings of Gilyard’s discipline at the Criswell College, and Gilyard was consequently expelled from school.  Dr. Akin accompanied me to Gilyard’s church to be certain that he resigned.  I called as many places as I knew where he was scheduled to preach and asked them to cancel his invitation.  Most did cancel, and he no longer speaks in Southern Baptist churches. 

Further, letters exist in my file from the young woman at Southeastern thanking me for the way in which her situation was handled.  She now (more than a decade later) claims to have been raped.  According to Dr. Akin as quoted in a Baptist Press article, the term “rape” was not found in the report in her official student file, and there are no details of information being given to me or of my involvement in the matter.  Dr. Akin did confirm that my vice presidents had handled the matter properly as this was during the transition of my presidency to Southwestern. 

Fort Worth Police records show that within seconds of receiving an allegation of rape at Southwestern by a female student with her mother present, I called the police.  They arrived in less than twenty minutes.  The young man – also a student – was immediately dismissed from the school.  The young woman was asked by me to file charges against him, and she refused.  The Southwestern trustees even confirmed in a public statement, “evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse.” 

Houston Chronicle reporters have slandered and totally misrepresented me, and in so doing have significantly harmed my ministry.  The events they report are tragic.  However, there is no reason to punish the innocent with the wicked. I applaud SBC president Dr. J.D. Greear for doing all that he can to bring this abrogation of righteousness and justice to a halt.  Anyone abusing a child, a woman, or any weaker person is wrong and marked by deviant behavior.  Anyone claiming to be a follower of Christ who acts in such a way or who protects one who preys upon another is both opprobrious and ignoble.  Anyone claiming to be a minister of the Gospel who is thus involved is reprehensible and should not continue in the ministry.  

The facts are available to anyone who wishes to know the truth.  A good investigative reporter should study existing evidence to identify and bring to justice those who are guilty, being careful not to accuse one who has been completely cleared of the charges alleged.  

Until He comes,

Paige Patterson

Dallas, Texas

https://www.paigepatterson.org/blog/letter-to-the-editor

David R. Brumbelow

Jay's picture

But why on Earth would a student complain to a school about being raped?

  1. Her assailant was a student.
  2. Being raped on the school grounds makes it the school's concern as well.
  3. Being raped would affect her ability to do her schooling.
  4. Etc.

Is that helpful?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Patterson appears to either have bad lawyers, or is ignoring his lawyers, as evidenced by fighting this out in the media instead of the courts.  And he brings up Darrell Gilyard?  OK, but I don't know that this helps your case, Paige.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Jay wrote:

But why on Earth would a student complain to a school about being raped?

  1. Her assailant was a student.
  2. Being raped on the school grounds makes it the school's concern as well.
  3. Being raped would affect her ability to do her schooling.
  4. Etc.

Is that helpful?

Ok, then do that AFTER calling the police. BUT, what happens is students don't want to involve teh police. They want the school to punish the accused without due process. When the school fails (like SWBTS) they sue the school for millions while the accused raper never faces charges. Amazing huh?

Jay's picture

BUT, what happens is students don't want to involve teh police. They want the school to punish the accused without due process.

You clearly don't know what you are talking about and have not worked with rape or abuse victims before.  This is a perversely grotesque reading of the situation / case.

It's also a malicious and evil way to talk about another person, victim or not.

Paige Patterson is going to get his clock cleaned when this gets to court, and it's a shame that you can't see it coming.

I'm done with you, Mark.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, have mentioned to you a few times that accusers often are threatened with lethal force by their rapists, and our criminal justice system puts them in jail about 2% of the time.  Are you really so obtuse that you wouldn't realize why victims wouldn't want to do something that would generally only tick off the rapist while leaving them on the streets?  Do I have to spell this out for you in big bold letters?

Another perspective that you ought to understand is this;a prominent prosecutor of crimes like this likes to start jury selection by telling the prospective jurors to recall their worst (or best) sexual experience.  Then he drops the boom by saying "and you're going to tell the whole court about it in excruciating detail, and someone's going to attack your version of events for a while as well.  This is what we're asking the accuser to do here."

You wonder why people don't report, and you wonder why people don't go forward with criminal charges?  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.