Ex-Southern Baptist leader indicted on sexual abuse of teen

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A former Southern Baptist official was indicted in Texas on charges related to the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in 1997, when he was a 25-year-old seminary student in Fort Worth.

Mark Aderholt, now 47, was indicted by a Tarrant County grand jury Tuesday on a count of sexual assault of a child under 17 and three counts of indecency with a child.

Aderholt’s accuser, Anne Marie Miller, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Wednesday that she hopes Aderholt “will see this as another opportunity to confess and admit what he did.”

Aderholt was the associate executive director and chief strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention for a year and a half until resigning in June.

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The newspaper reported this summer that Miller was a high school student in Arlington, located east of Fort Worth, in 1996 when she met him online while trying to find someone to help her start a See You at the Pole group — where students gather at the flagpole and pray. Aderholt was attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at the time.

The newspaper reported that the two then began meeting up. After he ended things in April 1997, she thought of their time together as just a relationship that had gone bad, but by 2005 she began to see it in a different light.

Aderholt was arrested in the case in July after Miller took the allegations to police in Arlington. In 2007 she had taken the allegations to the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, which sends missionaries overseas, after finding out Aderholt was a missionary with the board.

The board has acknowledged it was told of the alleged abuse in 2007 but didn’t report the case to law enforcement. Aderholt resigned from the board in January 2008.

The newspaper found that Aderholt went on to serve as a pastor in Arkansas. The newspaper reported that according to the website for the Central Baptist Church in Little Rock, he was employed there as the executive pastor by March 2008. The newspaper reports that records from Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock show that he was the associate pastor of missions/evangelism there from December 2009 to July 2016.

A message left with the person last known to be Aderholt’s attorney was not immediately returned on Thursday.

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This version of the story corrects the 1st paragraph to make clear Aderholt was a Southern Baptist leader, not a Southern Baptist Convention leader.

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