Paige Patterson, the once heroic figure of the Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention was made a pariah in the convention he helped saved, in part over allegations that he mishandled a rape case at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and in part over not counseling in favor of divorce. Since 2019, this has been disputed in a lawsuit in federal court. Patterson himself has been very quiet in his own defense, but Paige Patterson scored a major victory in his lawsuit, complaints of negligence and gross negligence were dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be refiled. This partial victory in the lawsuit undermines the plaintiff’s (Jane Roe) case by removing the most serious legal matters from the suit. Additionally it seems unlikely, reading the ruling that the case against Patterson will prevail.
Facts of The Case
In 2013, SWBTS admitted a student, “John Doe” with a criminal record. He would also serve on the staff as a plumber part time from August 2013 to May 2014 and resumed his employment in January 2015. At the time a background check was performed and his past crimes were uncovered.
In fall 2014, “Jane Roe” was admitted to SWBTS. She too became a student-employee.
Roe alleges that she was first assaulted by Doe in October 2014, and that he was continually verbally and physically violent towards her for two weeks following the alleged initial sexual assault. Roe further asserts that Doe then grew tired or sick of her and left her alone for months. In April 2015, however, Roe asserts that Doe again assaulted her twice, once at her residence and a second time in a women’s restroom while wearing his plumber’s uniform.
However, this wouldn’t be reported to Patterson until August 2015.
Fourth, Roe never directly told Patterson or anyone at SWBTS of her concerns that Doe was stalking her. Nor did Roe make any sexual harassment, sexual assault, or any other complaint about Doe prior to August 2015. It is further undisputed that the first time Roe told Patterson and SWBTS that she had been raped by Doe was on August 20, 2015—the date she made her report to the school—months after the sexual assaults allegedly occurred. At that time, Patterson and SWBTS immediately notified local law enforcement authorities of Roe’s outcry, and Roe was interviewed by the Fort Worth Police Department. Roe declined to pursue charges against Doe.
Finally, it is undisputed that throughout Doe’s time at SWBTS, possession of firearms on campus was prohibited unless such possession was authorized in advance by Patterson. It is also undisputed that Doe violated this policy by possessing firearms.
This paragraph in the judgement is especially damning for the negligence case, as Patterson had no reason to have known any misconduct was going on by John Doe.
A very critical footnote specifies the fact that these allegations were reported to Patterson are not in dispute, but the allegations themselves the defense does not concede are true.
To be clear, it is undisputed that Roe has made these assertions and allegations about Doe’s purported sexual assaults and other physically violent behavior. Defendants do not concede that Doe engaged in the conduct recounted by Roe. This lawsuit was filed years after the events occurred, and apparently months after Doe passed away, so Doe himself could not respond to Roe’s allegations or otherwise provide evidence.
Paige Patterson is in part on trial for not believing these allegations strongly enough, despite the accuser not wanting to pursue criminal charges.
The crux of Roe’s factual assertions against Patterson and SWBTS in support of her negligence claims are that these Defendants knew: (1) that Doe had firearms on the SWBTS campus in violation of the school’s policy; (2) that Doe had a violent criminal past, which Patterson purportedly said was not a problem; and (3) that SWBTS knew through an employee that Doe was stalking Roe. As described below, the record developed before the Court provides little support for Roe’s allegations.
The firearm policy at SWBTS was that they were prohibited unless an exception was made. There was no evidence that Paige Patterson made an exception for John Doe to have a firearm on campus.
The criminal history of John Doe evidently falls flat in the judgement because there is little evidence that Patterson was involved in the admissions process for Doe. More importantly, the allegation of statements made by Patterson amount to hearsay which the court rejected.
Separately, Roe alleges in a declaration submitted to the Court that Doe told her that he “had met personally with Dr. Patterson” and that Patterson “assured him that his criminal past would not preclude him from becoming a Baptist minister.” (Dkt. #285-1 at 4 ¶ 19). Roe has further stated that Doe told her that Patterson encouraged him “to ‘fish’ the pool of unmarried female students at SWBTS for a suitable wife.” (Dkt. #285-1 at 5 ¶ 19).
Defendants have objected to these statements in Roe’s declaration as inadmissible hearsay. The Court agrees. All of these allegations are inadmissible hearsay within hearsay that cannot be presented in an admissible form at trial, and are therefore not proper summary-judgment evidence.
Lastly the basis for the knowledge of Roe’s wellbeing was based on a conversation that took place after Patterson knew of and reported the allegations, not before.
Patterson argues that Roe has failed to establish any negligence claim against him individually because he did not owe Roe any duty and because Roe’s injury was unforeseeable. The Court agrees. Reviewing the evidence of record in the light most favorable to Roe, the Court concludes that there exists no genuine issue of material fact on essential elements of Roe’s negligence and gross negligence claims against Patterson, such that summary judgment is warranted.
Although the negligence and gross negligence claims were dismissed against Paige Patterson and SWBTS, charges of public releasing of private information and intentional infliction of emotional distress remain. The basis of the latter was Patterson not believing hard enough.
BREAKING: Texas federal court dismisses all negligence and gross negligence claims against Paige Patterson and @SWBTS in Roe v. Patterson, 4:19-CV-179-SDJ.— Rod D. Martin (@RodDMartin) March 28, 2023
This is the "break her down" case. The court did not see the comment as it has been presented. https://t.co/UWoYl9aMGv…
Liberals in the Southern Baptist Convention shafted Paige Patterson over his “break her down” comment which Rod Martin correctly points out was not seen by the court the same way it was presented on social media. Martin also believes Patterson will win on the other charges.
As the Me Too narrative in the SBC rages on, this is the first major defeat in court for SBC feminists. David Sills and Johnny Hunt have each filed defamation suits which will further litigate this issue in the SBC. But the vindication of Paige Patterson is nigh certain with this lawsuit.