Current president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, David Platt, has announced that he is “commencing a thorough, outside, independent examination of IMB’s handling of past actions” following new details about sexual abuse.
The announcement comes after it was revealed that a woman named Anne Marie Miller told IMB officials in 2007 that she had been sexually abused by a Southern Baptist leader named Mark Aderholt. He was also an IMB missionary. IMB conducted a two-day investigation into the allegations, and concluded that Miller was being truthful. However, they did not fire Aderholt (he would later resign) and they did not report it to police. This summer, Aderholt was arrested and charged with committing multiple sexual abuse crimes against a child.
Platt, who became IMB’s president in 2014 said he recently became aware of the situation, which he called “extremely disturbing.”
In a statement, he explained:[lborder]
I just returned from the last couple of weeks in sub-Saharan Africa, and after meeting immediately with IMB trustee leaders, I want to speak clearly about recent news concerning an internal IMB investigation in 2007 of alleged sexual abuse by a former youth pastor who had become an IMB missionary and then went on to serve in other ministry leadership positions. … I am commencing a thorough, outside, independent examination of IMB’s handling of past actions—including this case and any other similar situations. In addition, I am commencing a thorough, outside, independent examination of IMB’s present policies and practices 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.[/lborder]
He also apologized to Miller for the way the board handled the case. He closed by saying: “In conclusion, we must do better. In the IMB. In the SBC. In any church and any ministry, we must do everything we can to protect children and adults from abuse and harassment, and we must do everything we can to hold anyone who is guilty of these things fully accountable.”
In a statement to the Baptist Press, Miller said:
I am grateful for David Platt’s immediate and thorough response upon his return from Africa today. His apology and the action of obtaining third-party investigations into my case and all other similar cases demonstrates his commitment to not tolerating sexual abuse or misconduct in any capacity. Furthermore, the conversations happening in the IMB and in convention leadership encourage me that abuse survivors will finally have an ally in the Church as we pursue healing. It’s my prayer that past and present survivors receive the support we need and the policies which result from these changes will prevent future victims from becoming so. I am excited and hopeful for the future of the SBC and am thankful for the many voices who are encouraging and inciting change along the way.