[Star Telegram] FORT WORTH – A Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate who resigned over the summer from the South Carolina Baptist Convention has been indicted on a charge of sexually assaulting a teenager in Arlington more than two decades ago.
Mark Edwin Aderholt, 47, was originally arrested on July 3 in South Carolina on a warrant issued in the Tarrant County case. Court records in Tarrant County show an indictment was handed up in the case on Tuesday for sexual assault of a child under the age of 17.
Aderholt has been out on bond since his arrest.
The indictments — four of them in total — brought relief to Aderholt’s accuser, Anne Marie Miller.
“I’m glad that truth is being heard and justice is being served and it is my hope that Mr. Aderholt will see this as another opportunity to confess and admit what he did,” she said Wednesday.
If he doesn’t plead guilty, the case will more forward to a trial, which isn’t something Miller said she would look forward to.
“I think honestly it would be a little bit scary to be in that environment and to have to publicly talk about those intimate details about my abuse and the darkest moments of my life,” she said. “But if that is what it takes for justice to continue to move forward, I am happy to speak the truth.”
Aderholt served as the associate executive director and chief strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention for a year and a half until he resigned June 19.
The missionary arm of the Southern Baptist Convention knew about the allegations against Aderholt in 2007, according to police records, emails and an internal investigation from the organization.
The International Mission Board (IMB) did not report the allegations to authorities.
Miller hopes other victims of sexual assault within their churches will gain courage through her story and she hopes the Southern Baptist Convention will finally step up to support survivors.
“The Southern Baptist Convention specifically promised to take abuse more seriously,” she said. “They are taking steps to do that, but it’s mainly more of an image protection. They haven’t reached out to me as a victim or survivor to see how they could help.”
She was contacted from a third party person who was investigating abuse complaints within the IMB, but not from the institution itself. They haven’t responded to her emails either.
But despite the lack of support from the SBC, Miller wants other victims and survivors to know there is support out there.
“Going to my local police department, working with the district attorney’s office, I have never felt more supported by an outside organization than I have doing that,” she said. “There is a lot of help and assistance and support available to (victims) if they come forward.”
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[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Nicholle Manna and published at the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, title changed by P&P]