I am an old, conservative, fuddy-duddy Baptist preacher. I never thought I would be posting something like I am about to post! If you are not aware, Mark Aderholt, former SBC pastor, IMB missionary, and South Carolina state convention staffer, pled guilty to lesser charges while denying the charges that Anne has consistently made through the years.
No, I will not be linking to a Baptist Press article on this. To this point, BP has maintained stony silence about Aderholt’s guilty plea. As is usual, the Houston Chronicle is providing excellent coverage, this time, from Sarah Smith. The exact terms of the plea deal are spelled out in that article. Read their story.
The SBC has gotten itself in a lot of trouble in recent years by ignoring the survivors of abuse. Anne put out some powerful tweets about her reaction to the court proceedings. While she was pleased that Aderholt entered a guilty plea, she was not happy that he continued to deny his responsibility for all she claims he has done.
Then, she said this, and it stung.
Now taking bets on when and if Baptist Press will cover this, if they don’t reach out to me for a statement and it they will downplay the situation, as they historically have done. ?
— Anne Marie Miller (@girlnamedanne) July 3, 2019
Again, last I checked, there was nothing in Baptist Press about Aderholt’s plea – as of noon, July 3.
I do not know the history between Ms. Miller and Baptist Press, but the idea that she, a woman who has demonstrated grace in the face of horrendous treatment by SBC entities, feels that our own press agency has not given her fair coverage – that annoyed me, grieved me. S0, I contacted her and asked if she would let me publish for the SBC crowd her victim impact statement. It is hard to read – nauseating, really. This statement was read in court and has been published elsewhere. I publish it here simply because we need to hear what this woman says happened to her. I am not a journalist. I have not researched her claims – she makes some explosive ones here – but the Southern Baptist Convention needs to stop hiding in silence about these kinds of things. We need to listen to what survivors such as Anne Marie Miller are saying.
Isn’t that what SBC 2019 was all about?
Here is Anne Marie Miller’s Survivor statement:
Honorable Judge Hagerman: I want to thank you for this opportunity to give this statement.
I would also like to thank Mr. William Knight and Detective Charles Cisneros who wisely and compassionately utilized the criminal justice system to hold Mr. Aderholt accountable for his character and actions.
And before I address the defendant, I want to express gratitude to my husband Tim for supporting me with enduring and sacrificial love during this turbulent time, to my family and friends, including those standing with me today in flesh and in spirit, for their encouragement, love, and prayers, and to our daughter Charlotte who gives me the strength to move beyond this trauma into a courageous and joy-filled life.
Now, I would like to address the defendant, Mr. Mark Aderholt.
My family moved from Abilene to Arlington a couple of weeks into my junior year of high school, and I was completely alone. I knew nobody outside of my family and my parents were desperately trying to make ends meet. I was questioning my faith for the first time in my life because of the way the church treated us before we moved. I grieved the rich community I left behind, so I tried to do the one thing I knew how to do in pursuit of finding friends: be the good Christian girl.
Because we weren’t going to church, I reached out to several pastors on America Online trying to find someone who could help me start a See You at the Pole event at my school. You responded to my email and we met at a McDonalds at the Hypermart off Cooper and Bardin in Arlington. After my mom met you and went to do her shopping, we talked over french fries. When we were done, we went to find my mom and the two of you exchanged seminary and missionary stories before we went our separate ways.
My See You at the Pole event failed completely and I was having a crisis of faith and identity. You encouraged me to not give up, and you invited me over to your apartment to talk and pray.
Finally, I thought. A friend.
I went to your apartment, a bottom floor one bedroom in North Arlington. As we spent time together, we got to know each other. You told me about Pampa and your time at Wayland Baptist and your mission trips and your school. You told me about your family and your sisters—one was my age, give or take.
We had fun: We went to Kroger in your blue Grand Am and bought ice cream. You took me to have dinner at Razoo’s in Sundance Square. You kissed me and we acted silly at Greenbriar Park when a car flashed their lights at us. “Let’s give them a show,” you said. I wanted to buy a yellow truck like the one you parked next to at your apartment. You said girls who drove yellow trucks were hot.
I felt blessed to have you, this man of God, as my friend. We sat on your floor to watch a movie. As your arm brushed against mine—and then stayed there for a moment, I remember feeling nervous but excited. Did you want to be more than friends? You held my hand. You kissed me. And then you kissed me more.
On the floor next to your TV, you were on top of me kissing. You rolled off of me for a moment and propped your head up on your arm. You asked if I was a virgin and I awkwardly said yes. You told me you weren’t, that you lost your virginity when you were 13, but it was a mistake you wouldn’t make again.
You continued kissing me and your hands wandered all over my body. No boy had ever touched me the way you touched me, or in the places you touched me. And you were no boy. You were a man, almost a decade older than my sixteen years. I was afraid to say no, afraid that I would lose one of my only friends.
We met many times over my junior year in high school. And out of nowhere, you ended it.
You told me you were engaged and getting married later that year to a girl you met overseas. She was coming back to the states in the summer and could never find out about us.
That was the moment everything changed. Beyond violating my body, when you told me to never talk to you again, you broke my spirit.
The world was no longer safe and even the Godliest of men could not be trusted. I was just a body with breasts and hips and thighs and other things too intimate to name. I felt ashamed of what we did, humiliated in my naïveté. You didn’t care that I was already lost and alone and hurting when I met you. In fact, you took advantage of my vulnerability. I was the least likely person to tell anyone what you did. And although it took some time, you were mistaken.
When I turned 25 and was mentoring a 16 year old girl, I had a revelation just how inappropriate it was for you to pursue a romantic relationship with a girl who had only recently earned her drivers license. I realized you intentionally and dishonorably harmed me and violated me in the most intimate way. This wasn’t a bad break up: You manipulated me.
You sexually abused me.
I told leaders at the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention what you did, and after they investigated it, they determined I was telling the truth. But they let you resign and over the next decade, you were promoted in your career in the SBC. I could never reconcile why they’d let you do that. It didn’t make sense. Now we know that you continued advancing because you were dishonest with everyone about your past.
When the #MeToo movement was going viral on social media, I was mostly offline, busy as a new mom, changing diapers and starting nursing school. As I looked down at my daughter and reflected on an article a friend sent, I thought to myself, “What am I going to tell her when she’s older? How am I going to make the world safer for her?” Surely there was something more I could do.
I decided to report you to the authorities and go public with my story, knowing it would be a step to reclaim the truth in this false narrative you directed for so long. Knowing it was a step to put an end to the power of your dishonesty.
On July 3, a year ago tomorrow, you were arrested.
I am grieved your family has experienced such pain because of your actions. However, you also need to know the dramatic and traumatizing way your disregard for me as a woman and as a sister in Christ has affected me.
Nine years ago, I checked myself in to an inpatient counseling facility. I was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder because of what you did to me.
I wanted to heal: I wanted to be able to not have a panic attack or feel a searing pain between my legs when I had sex. I didn’t want to shake with fear every time I saw a mid-nineties blue Grand Am. I wanted to drive down Highway 360 to visit my parents without getting nauseous when I passed your old apartment. I didn’t want to feel dread driving by Greenbriar Park every time I went to spend time with my grandparents. Even this year as I would visit my dying grandmother, I would see that park. Something as sacred as her final days were cloaked in the shadows of evil from when you sexually abused me.
During the investigation last year, there were days I couldn’t get out of bed because of my anxiety. Our daughter, who had just taken her first steps, toddled to the bedroom door saying, “mama, mama” and my husband would redirect her saying, “mama’s sleeping,” even though I wasn’t. I was so exhausted, but yet I couldn’t stop crying. I thought my husband and daughter would be better off without me: a broken, hopeless person.
Mark: you need to know that what you did to me made me want to kill myself many times. I even tried once a few years ago, but I couldn’t figure out how to work the gun.
On Mother’s Day last year, about a month after the investigation started, I headed to Nashville and went to inpatient therapy again because of my suicidality. While I was there, you were coming home from a mission trip, telling people about a fabricated lawsuit you were supposedly settling with me: a woman from your past who was suing you—something, by the way, that has never happened. When you were on your plane home, I was in an ambulance heading to Trauma Bay #2 of Skyline Hospital in Nashville, out of my therapy treatment two weeks early, because of a freak accident. During a game of baseball, someone lost their grip on the bat and it missiled into my jaw, breaking it in four places. I’ve had four surgeries, two bone grafts, plates and screws and braces and implants. My face will never be the same.
The cost of this accident and all of the mental health expenses over the last two decades has a price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is just one more way I’ve suffered because of the abuse, and it will forever affect my family’s financial future.
When I first wrote this victim statement, I wrote about how I prayed that you were a statistical anomaly. I wrote about how I hoped I was the only person you sexually violated.
I have since learned you are not an anomaly.
I am not the only woman you took advantage of.
Others have come forward in the past few days and shared that you used their vulnerability for your sexual gratification, at times even doing so after you were told to stop. There are hearts everywhere damaged by your refusal to own up to what you’ve done. The truth is exploding out from all the places you have hidden it. You can no longer hide in the duality you live in.
Mark, here we are, face to face, 22 years after seeing each other for the last time. My heart is no longer broken. It has been rebuilt by love and faith and those who have helped carry it and patch it over the years. I never thought I’d see you again, ever, but now I can and I want to look you in the eyes and tell you I forgive you.
I forgive you, Mark. For all of the pain, the time I had to spend away from loved ones, the fear of intimacy, and the financial losses. I forgive you for stealing the good I believed about the world and for damaging the image of a perfect and loving God who I still often doubt cares for me or protects me.
I forgive you. And my heart aches for the person-the man-you could be if you would just tell the truth and accept the responsibility that comes with it.
I used to believe that in order for this ordeal to be over, you needed to tell the truth and ask me to forgive you. I know now that’s not the case. This is over because I have spoken the truth. It’s over because I have forgiven you. Your lies have no more power.
This is over, Mark. This is the end.
I do pray, however, that it is a new beginning for you.
I pray you begin to feel the pulse of conviction pursuing your heart.
I pray you begin to immerse yourself in the repentance and forgiveness you have spent your life proclaiming but never fully experiencing.
I pray that you begin to choose to live honorably and honestly for yourself and for your family.
And I pray you will know the holy and saving power of God’s perfect and unconditional love. God loves you so much, Mark. Please ask for the strength and the help you need to be made whole. He does not forsake those he loves. He hasn’t forsaken me. He won’t forsake you either.