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Desire for document to ‘go away,’ falsified notebook at heart of Queen investigation


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the employment status of employees mentioned in paragraph 2. In its statement May 21, the seminary said, “All employees alleged to have acted improperly in this matter are no longer employed by the seminary.”

NEW YORK (BP) — A timeline provided by the U.S. attorney charging a former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary interim provost with impeding a federal investigation includes the failure to report the destruction of a document outlining an allegation of sexual abuse at the seminary as well as falsifying notes related to a conversation about the document.

Three unidentified seminary employees are also placed in the timeline that begins in October 2022, revolves around events in the first half of 2023 and leads to the falsification of records charge levied yesterday against Matt Queen.

The charge states that Queen “prepared and provided … a false document, with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence an investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office.”  

In relation to a Department of Justice investigation of the Southern Baptist Convention, a grand jury subpoena was issued in October 2022 – the same month Queen was named interim provost – to SWBTS that included the required production of all documents related to allegations of sexual abuse against anyone employed by or associated with the seminary.

The next month, according to court documents, SWBTS received information regarding an allegation of sexual abuse by a student at Texas Baptist College, the undergraduate arm of the seminary. An individual identified as Employee-1 immediately alerted campus police to the allegation, but the seminary took no further action nor reported it to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“On or about” Jan. 25, 2023, Employee-1 created a document that included a description of the November 2022 allegation and the seminary’s “failure to take action.”

The next day, Jan. 26, a SWBTS executive staff member identified as “Employee-2” met with Queen and Employee-1. During that meeting, say court documents, Employee-2 directed Employee-1 to make the document “go away.”

On Jan. 24, Southwestern released a statement that it had become aware at 1 p.m. of an outstanding warrant for a Texas Baptist College student on one count of felony sexual assault.

“Immediately upon becoming aware of the warrant, Southwestern Seminary Campus Police began working with the Fort Worth Police Department and the Burleson Police Department to locate and arrest the student,” the statement said. “The student turned himself in at approximately 4:00 p.m. and was arrested by the Burleson Police Department. He has been immediately suspended as a student, pending the outcome of the investigation.”

On or about May 23, 2023, Queen met with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and an FBI agent in Fort Worth. During this meeting Queen said he had not heard Employee-2 tell Employee-1 to destroy the document.

The charge by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams says that three days later, on May 26, Queen told another seminary staff member, “Employee-3,” of a notebook he had located in his office that contained contemporaneous notes of the Jan. 26 conversation involving himself, Employee-1 and Employee-2. Those notes falsely stated, Williams said, that Employee-1 and Employee-2 had discussed providing the document to a different seminary department, leaving out Employee-2’s directive to make the document “go away.”

Queen then passed those notes, later identified as a copy, to Employee-3 to produce during an upcoming interview with DOJ officials.

Another meeting between Queen, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI took place on or about June 20 in New York City. At that time Queen produced the original notebook and claimed the notes therein had been written contemporaneously to the Jan. 26 conversation with Employee-1 and Employee-2. Queen then stated – again, falsely – that he instead had written the notes “in or about April 2023,” according to Williams.

The charge states that Queen had, in fact, written the notes after his May 23 meeting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI.

“On or about June 21, 2023,” the court document said, “Matthew Queen, the defendant, testified under oath that on January 26, 2023, he had in fact heard Employee-2 instruct Employee-1 to make the Document ‘go away.’”

Southwestern announced in May 2023 that Queen, still as interim provost, would be co-teaching an evangelism class that fall with Chancellor O.S. Hawkins. Another announcement came in July of Madison Grace II succeeding Queen as provost. Queen announced in February of this year he had been called as pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C. Baptist Press has reached out to the church for comment, but has not yet heard back from church leaders.