SC Baptist Convention Leader Resigns, Charged With Sexual Assault From 20 Years Ago

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(Photo: Facebook)Mark Aderholt at Whitefield Baptist Church in South Carolina.

Mark Edwin Aderholt, who recently served as the associate executive director and chief strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention until his resignation less than a month ago, has been arrested and charged for sexually assaulting a teenager in Arlington, Texas, more than 20 years ago.

Aderholt, 46, was charged on July 3 with the sexual assault of a child younger than 17 in 1997, according to court records cited in a Star-Telegram report.  

Sgt. Karen Standback, an Arlington police spokeswoman, told the Star-Telegram that she was unable to release further information about the case but Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary confirmed to Baptist Press that the assault allegedly occurred when Aderholt was a student at the seminary. He graduated in 2000 with a master of divinity degree.

According to the history of Freedom Fellowship in Roanoke, Texas, it was about 1997 when their first pastor decided to take a position elsewhere and when Aderholt, who was doing missionary work with his wife, stepped into the role of interim pastor. The church was known as Lakeside Fellowship at the time. 

Calls to Freedom Fellowship were not immediately returned on Wednesday.

In a June 19 statement announcing Aderholt's resignation after a year-and-a-half as the state convention's associate executive director and chief strategist, South Carolina Baptist Convention Executive Director Gary Hollingsworth said it was received with "a heavy heart." The reason behind Aderholt's resignation was not revealed.

After his arrest, however, Hollingsworth told BP: "In light of recent news related to Mr. Aderholt, our hearts are grieved and our prayers are with everyone involved."

International Mission Board spokesperson Julie McGowan, who confirmed that Aderholt served with the organization from 2000–2008, said the organization has a "zero-tolerance policy" on sexual misconduct.

"IMB has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual misconduct that is shared with all personnel. If anyone has knowledge of a case involving sexual misconduct, we strongly encourage them to come forward, and we provide multiple avenues for them to report. When we are informed of possible cases of sexual misconduct of any kind, we investigate those situations immediately and, if warranted, take the appropriate action to report it to local authorities and remove individuals from IMB employment," she said.