During the last few weeks Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) has walked through a situation that began when our administration was contacted by a former student who was the victim of an alleged sexual assault in 2003. Dr. Danny Akin, president of SEBTS, communicated the institution’s willingness to assist her in any way, and began an internal review of the matter. At this time, the internal review is not complete because SEBTS is not in possession of documents deemed as being owned by the seminary. At this time there has been no evidence discovered that disputes or discredits our former student’s account.
As public conversation has continued, correspondence regarding the matter has surfaced which were not in any files possessed by SEBTS. Such correspondence should be held in student files under protection of federal privacy laws regarding education records. It is our express desire to acquire these documents as well as any others that should be held by SEBTS.
A statement released today by Shelby Sharpe, personal attorney for Dr. Paige Patterson, refers to a request that we join in an arbitration process provided by Peacemakers Ministries. The statement indicates that we have not accepted. While we do understand that mail delay or other extenuating circumstances may have arisen, to this date we have received no such request. Mr. Sharpe also references a statement provided by a former staff member associated with the Pattersons in which he verifies he only removed documents that were the property of the Pattersons. It is our understanding that these are documents that were stored in the SEBTS Library archives and are not related to the official Presidential communications of the institution.
SEBTS does not believe the official Presidential communications were maliciously removed from the property. However, we believe there is a misunderstanding on the part of the Pattersons and their attorney as to what is owned by SEBTS under the work for hire doctrine.
It is not our intention to settle this matter in a court of law, and SEBTS has never expressed the desire to pursue action in the courts regarding these documents. We have made a request to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) and are working amicably with the institution to preserve and return all documents that are the property of SEBTS to our campus in Wake Forest. We have no desire to be uncooperative. We simply cannot respond to a request that we have not received.
Our ultimate goal in this process is to provide a safe learning environment and to protect the privacy of all our students and graduates.
Get some context by reading our coverage here.