Sharaya Colter Still Defends Paige Patterson, Calls Seminary Statement 'Unfounded Attack'

Paige Patterson, 75, speaks at the AWAKEN Conference in Las Vegas, NV, in January 2014. Sharaya Colter appears in inset photo.
Paige Patterson, 75, speaks at the AWAKEN Conference in Las Vegas, NV, in January 2014. Sharaya Colter appears in inset photo. | (Photo/Screenshot:Facebook; YouTube)

The wife of a former staffer at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary remains unwavering in her defense of Paige Patterson and dismissed the seminary board's statement that Patterson was terminated partly because he lied about reporting an alleged student rape at another seminary. She called it an "unfounded attack." 

"The most recent charge against Dr. Patterson is one to which he gave an answer that satisfied the board of trustees May 22, which is why it wasn't named as a reason for his removal from the presidency. I was not privy to his reply but I do trust his character," Sharayah Colter, wife of former chief of staff at SWBTS, Scott Colter, wrote in a statement released on Twitter Sunday.

"I'm sure when the full truth is revealed about this too, the accusation will be seen for the unfounded attack that it is. There are things even Jesus said and did that, if taken out of context, would have seemed incriminating. But of course there was nothing incriminating about our perfect, sinless Savior," she added. 

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The chairman of the board of trustees, Kevin Ueckert, revealed on Friday that their decision to immediately terminate Patterson — who was earlier given the title of president emeritus as well as compensation amid several controversies — came after they confirmed that "an allegation of rape was indeed made by a female student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003." Patterson led Southeastern at that time.

"This information contradicts a statement previously provided by Dr. Patterson in response to a direct question by a Board member regarding the incident referenced in our May 30 statement. The 2003 rape allegation was never reported to local law enforcement," Ueckert explained.

Additionally, Ueckert said that in another student's case of rape in 2015, the police were notified. However, the board found Patterson's email to the Chief of Campus Security about the case problematic. In the email, Patterson "discussed meeting with the student alone so that he could 'break her down' and that he preferred no officials be present,'" Ueckert said.

"The attitude expressed by Dr. Patterson in that email is antithetical to the core values of our faith and to SWBTS. Moreover, the correlation between what has been reported and also revealed in the student record regarding the 2003 allegation at Southeastern and the contents of this email are undeniable."

Last Thursday, Sharayah Colter, challenged several of the allegations, including the 2003 rape of the former Southeastern seminary student, who revealed herself to be Megan Lively.

Lively alleges that when she reported her rape, Patterson urged her not to report it to the police and that she should forgive her alleged assailant.

While Lively told The Washington Post that she met with Patterson and a few other seminarians and was asked to provide details of the rape to them, Colter noted that "Patterson says he does not recall meeting with Lively," a position which she suggests is supported by a letter Lively sent to Patterson dated April 15, 2003.

She further noted that "if a rape had indeed been alleged in 2003, and Patterson had known about it, he would have reported it to authorities, as he demonstrated in a different scenario involving a Southwestern Seminary student when he called police even when the student asked him not to do so."

Colter has been criticized for publishing the student letter online and possibly violating student privacy laws. Colter, a former journalist, responded: "I did not steal anything. I was given photocopies of personal property which legal counsel deemed ready for publication in my article. I have never seen or touched anyone's student files, and I positvely did not alter any records."

Lively told The Washington Post that the documents Colter published were altered. 

Ueckert of the SWBTS board called the publishing of the documents "inappropriate and unethical" and said they "do not alter the decision of the Executive Committee" to terminate Patterson.

Colter also challenged last week the allegation of Patterson mishandling the 2015 rape case, arguing, "Patterson had done all he could by calling the police, expelling the student (the assailant) and encouraging the woman multiple times to press charges." 

In a Star-Telegram report on Saturday, Stuart Cochran, a Dallas attorney for the former female student, said his client alleges that Patterson told her that it was a "good thing" she had been raped and that her future husband wouldn't care if she was a virgin or not.

"He threatened to sic lawyers on her [mother] for questioning his leadership at the school when she asked why the assailant was allowed on campus," Cochran added.

Patterson first garnered controversy when the Baptist Blogger posted in April audio of an interview Patterson did in 2000 in which he commented on the question of whether wives should submit to their husbands, even when they are abusive.

"It depends on the level of abuse to some degree. I have never in my ministry counseled that anybody seek a divorce, and I do think that's always wrong counsel," said Patterson in the audio recording.

"There have been, however, an occasion or two when the level of the abuse was serious enough, dangerous enough, immoral enough that I have counseled temporary separation and the seeking of help. I would urge you to understand that that should happen only in the most serious of cases." 

Patterson later released a statement, saying, "I have never counseled or condoned abuse of any kind."

"I will never be a party to any position other than that of the defense of any weaker party when subjected to the threat of a stronger party. This certainly includes women and children.  Any physical or sexual abuse of anyone should be reported immediately to the appropriate authorities, as I have always done." 

Colter noted in her statement Sunday that amid attacks for her defense of Patterson, she is at peace with her position.

"I have peace in my heart not to be discouraged by the insults to my character on social media and in press releases, especially those put out by people whose handles are anonymous, which is most of them. The ones that sting the most are from people I know, love and respect(ed), but even those I'm content to take in stride knowing I seek God's approval alone and have only worked to relay the truth," she wrote.

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