Who is Anne? Why this website?
Because fuller detail is available at these websites, this page will simply highlight a few key points:
From 1996-1997, Mark Aderholt, then a 25-year old student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, sexually abused Anne Miller, who was then 16 years old. Miller had met Aderholt over the internet when she was new to Arlington, TX and was looking for help with organizing a daily prayer meeting at her public high school. Aderholt took an interest in her and began inviting her over to his apartment. The second time, Aderholt began kissing Miller and asked her if she was a virgin. From that point on, Aderholt increased the level of physical contact until he ended the relationship in April 1997.
In 2005, Miller began to understand the significance of the age gap between her and Aderholt and the abusive nature of what he had done. During this time she found out that Mark Aderholt was currently a missionary for the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). In late 2007, Miller, through a pastor, informed the IMB that Aderholt had abused her.
On Oct 22-23 2007, an IMB assessment team interviewed Miller about her abuse. Among other questions, they asked Miller about her attire, suggesting that she was responsible in some way for the abuse. Sarah Smith’s Star-Telegram article summarizes key findings of the IMB’s investigation: “The investigation came to three conclusions: It was “more likely than not” that Aderholt had engaged in an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with Miller, that she was still emotionally affected by it and that Aderholt was “not truthful” with International Mission Board personnel about it.”
Following this investigation, Mark Aderholt resigned from the IMB as a missionary before the board could decide on any disciplinary action against him. The IMB never reported the abuse to law enforcement or to the other SBC churches that Aderholt went on to pastor after his resignation from the IMB.
Earlier this year, Miller decided to take action herself and reported Aderholt to the Arlington, TX police. On July 3, he was arrested in South Carolina and transferred to custody in Texas.
What specifically was problematic about the IMB’s response?
Several aspects of how the IMB handled the situation are inadequate, namely:
- The IMB conducted an internal investigation rather than seeking and submitting to an independent, third-party investigation and appropriate criminal investigations.
- Many of the questions Miller was asked during her interview implied that she was responsible for her abuse. In particular, the assessment team asked inappropriate questions about her sexual history.
- Miller was not appropriately informed that Aderholt had committed a crime by abusing her.
- When Miller asked IMB attorney Derek Gaubatz after the investigation whether Aderholt had confessed to anything, she was told that she ought to “let it go” and forgive him.
- Though the IMB concluded that Aderholt had likely committed abuse and had lied to them, they took no steps to warn churches that Aderholt went on to pastor about his history of sexual abuse.
- The IMB took no steps to investigate whether Aderholt had abused others in his capacity as an overseas missionary in countries known for sex trafficking.
- In 2011, when Miller contacted Gaubatz to ask how Aderholt could still continue as a pastor after being terminated for something so serious, she received no response. This allowed her to continue to be misled that Aderholt was fired from the IMB when he was actually allowed to resign.
- Since Aderholt’s arrest, the IMB has not accepted any responsibility to failing to stop a sexual predator from continuing in church leadership; neither have they reached out to Miller or offered any apology, care, or support. [Update: On 7/25/18, IMB President David Platt released this statement. See also Anne’s response here.]