SHERMAN, Texas (BP) — Paige Patterson, former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has denied allegations of negligence, violation of privacy and liability in a federal court lawsuit filed by a former seminary student.
In a court document filed Aug. 26, Patterson responded to the lawsuit in which he is a co-defendant with Southwestern in allegations filed in March, and amended in May, by a student identified by the pseudonym Jane Roe.
Roe’s lawsuit recounts that she was forcibly raped at gunpoint on at least three occasions from October 2014 through April 2015 by a fellow student identified as “John Doe,” whom Roe said was employed as an SWBTS plumber.
Southwestern filed its response to the lawsuit on Aug. 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.
Neither the seminary nor Patterson disputed the rapes but did dispute numerous allegations in the suit involving the student’s interactions with Patterson and other seminary staff.
Patterson’s court response stated that he “was not a cause, the cause, the sole cause, a proximate cause, the sole proximate cause, or a contributing cause of any injuries or damages claimed by Roe.”
His response also stated that the lawsuit infringes on the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion clause.
Additionally, Patterson refuted the plaintiff’s claim that the lawsuit falls within a five-year Texas statute of limitations, claiming instead a two-year limitation under another Texas statute.
The case is Jane Roe v. Leighton Paige Patterson, in his individual capacity; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Patterson is represented by Jim Grau and Travis J. Jones of the Grau Law Group, PLLC, in Dallas. Southwestern is represented by the law firm of Macdonald Devin P.C., in Dallas. Roe is represented by Sheila P. Haddock of San Diego, Calif.
Patterson was president of Southwestern from June 2003 until his dismissal by the trustees’ 12-member executive committee in May 2018, stemming from issues involving the handling of a sexual abuse case earlier in 2003 when Patterson was president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., where he had served 10 years.
Adam W. Greenway, elected as Southwestern’s president in February, told Baptist Press after the student’s lawsuit was filed that “it is important that the Southwestern Seminary community know that we take these matters seriously and are committed to our campus being a safe place for the vulnerable and for survivors of abuse.”