An independent, outside review of the Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board’s past handling of abuse allegations announced in July by IMB President David Platt will continue after he leaves the post next week, officials confirmed Sept. 20.
Platt, who is stepping down effective Sept. 27 to return full-time to pastoral ministry, said July 25 he was “commencing a thorough, outside, independent examination” into an in-house investigation in 2007 of alleged sexual abuse by a former youth pastor at the time serving as a foreign missionary.
The man, Mark Aderholt, managed to resign before he could be fired and moved on to other ministry positions in Southern Baptist churches and entities until his arrest July 3 on charges of sexual assault of a child under 17 related to the same incident, which allegedly occurred over the course of months in 1996 and 1997.
Julie McGowan, public relations manager for the Richmond, Virginia, based missions agency, said Platt initiated the review “because he believes it is important,” and that he “has ensured that trustees will continue that examination under the leadership of IMB’s interim president.”
Clyde Meador, named interim president until a permanent successor to Platt is found, said he and trustee leadership “are committed to seeing this through to ensure that our current commitment to zero tolerance for child abuse, sexual abuse and sexual harassment is completely and consistently enforced across IMB today.”
Anne Marie Miller — who 11 years ago aided the IMB internal investigation with two gut-wrenching days of retelling what she says happened to her when she was 16 and Aderholt was a 25-year-old youth pastor — said Meador, an IMB employee for 42 years, was aware of the abuse allegations against Aderholt in 2007 and was one of her initial points of contact in the internal probe.
“I remain hopeful that this independent investigation initiated by [David] Platt will be carried out in a timely manner,” Miller said Sept. 20. “To this date, I have not been contacted by anyone from the IMB or any third party investigators related to this.”
Miller, an author and former blogger and conference speaker, said she hopes the IMB “understands how important it is for myself and other survivors to quickly resolve this as we heal from the traumatic effects of sexual assault.”
“It’s imperative they reveal their findings with the Southern Baptists who support the IMB prayerfully and financially,” she said. “Lastly, it’s urgent to make sure all victims have the ability to be heard and for those who commit these injustices to be held accountable for their crimes.”
On Tuesday the SBC Executive Committee set aside $250,000 to fund the first two years of a separate initiative by convention President J.D. Greear to address sexual abuse in the church.
— Assessment of what facets of sexual misconduct need to be addressed. This phase will include a survey by LifeWay Research on Protestant churchgoers’ views of sexual misconduct and abuse;
— Development of partnerships with seminaries, state conventions and churches; and
— Implementation of the study’s recommendations.
Aderholt is out of jail on a $10,000 bond pending investigation by a grand jury in Texas. According to a source familiar with the case, a condition of his bond is no contact with minors.