Woman sues Fort Worth seminary, former president she says told her being raped was ‘a good thing’

Morning News

June 22, 2019

By Tom Steele

A woman is suing former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, claiming that he abused his position and failed to protect her after she reported being raped multiple times by a fellow student.

The lawsuit, filed in March and unsealed earlier this month, also names the Fort Worth seminary as a defendant. It seeks unspecified damages, saying that the woman has suffered continuing emotional and physical pain as a result of the assaults and Patterson’s response to them.

An attorney for Patterson, Shelby Sharpe, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Sharpe has previously said that the woman made several “contradictory” statements to authorities and seminary officials about her assaults, and he has told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he had not heard “one credible attack” against Patterson.

The woman, who uses the pseudonym Jane Roe in the lawsuit, says that she met her attacker — who was employed as a plumber on campus and had keys to all campus buildings — shortly after she began attending the seminary in September 2014. He quickly became infatuated with her, despite her rejection of him, she says, and “began to pursue her relentlessly.”

That October, the lawsuit says, Roe fell asleep in a lawn chair on campus and awoke to the man sexually assaulting her. He warned her not to tell anyone while showing her a gun, she says. He was physically and verbally abusive to her in the weeks that followed, and she took to wearing heavy makeup to hide her bruises.

In April 2015, the man pushed his way into her home and raped her at gunpoint, then raped her again the next day, the lawsuit says. She eventually told her family about the assaults, and in August 2015 she reported them to Patterson.

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