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Roe v. Patterson

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

June 3, 2019

JANE ROE, Plaintiff,
v.
LEIGHTON PAIGE PATTERSON, in his Individual capacity, and SOUTHWESTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KIMBERLY C. PRIEST JOHNSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Amended Motion to Proceed Under a Pseudonym (the “Motion”) (Dkt. 9). The Motion is ex parte because Defendants have not yet been served. Plaintiff seeks to proceed under the pseudonym of Jane Roe (“Roe”) and seal her Original Complaint (the “Complaint”) in order to protect her privacy. For the reasons explained below, the Court finds the Motion (Dkt. 9) is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff formerly attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (“SWBTS”), located in Fort Worth, Texas. See Dkt. 8 at 2. Plaintiff alleges she was sexually assaulted on multiple occasions on the SWBTS campus by John Doe (“Doe”), a fellow student who was also an SWBTS employee. See id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant SWBTS and Defendant Leighton Paige Patterson (“Patterson”), President of SWBTS at the time of the alleged assaults, failed to take any action to protect Plaintiff from the assaults, and after the incidents were reported, their negligent and intentional actions resulted in additional harm to Plaintiff. Id. The Court refers to Patterson and SWBTS collectively as “Defendants.” Plaintiff brings suit against Defendants for negligence, public disclosure of private facts, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence. See Dkt. 8 at 26-33.

         Plaintiff began attending SWBTS in 2014, and chose to attend SWBTS because she believed the institution shared her “conservative Christian” views. See Dkt. 8 at 11. While attending, Plaintiff lived and worked on campus. See id.

         In September of 2014, Plaintiff met John Doe (“Doe”), a seminary student who was employed as a plumber on campus. See id. In his role as a plumber, Doe was issued keys to all campus buildings, including Plaintiff's dormitory, where she lived and worked. See id. Plaintiff asserts that Doe began stalking her. See id. at 11-13. After some time, a professor was “informed of Doe's stalking behavior towards Roe, ” which Plaintiff asserts put the school on notice. See id. at 12. Plaintiff asserts that no action was taken by SWBTS following this report. See Dkt. at 13.

         In October of 2014, Plaintiff asserts Doe raped her following a campus barbecue. See Dkt. 8 at 12. Plaintiff asserts Doe threatened her with a gun during the rape. See id. Plaintiff alleges Doe continued his abuse of her, including instances of strangling, repeated sexual assault, multiple additional instances of rape, “twice forcing [Plaintiff] to take the morning after pill, ” criticizing Plaintiff, harming Plaintiff such that she was repeatedly bruised, and threatening to harm or kill either Plaintiff or himself with a gun. See Dkt. 8 at 11-15. After Doe abruptly “lost interest” in Plaintiff, Plaintiff continued to fear for her safety, and hid from Doe when he entered Plaintiff's dormitory for his job as a plumber. See id. at 15. Plaintiff alleges Doe had access to Plaintiff's daily schedule, as well as that of her housemates, because it was publicly posted at the front desk of Plaintiff's dormitory. See id.

         In April of 2015, Plaintiff alleges Doe raped her again at Horner House. See id. At that time, Doe “forcibly raped [Plaintiff] at gunpoint and [as a result, she] suffered bleeding from the injuries she sustained for several months.” Dkt. 8 at 16. Plaintiff alleges Doe raped her again the following day while he was working as a plumber. See id. At that time, Plaintiff alleges that “Doe took photographs of Roe during the assault and threatened he would post the photos on the internet if she said a word.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges her “mental and physical health deteriorated as a result of the stalking and sexual assaults. She developed an eating disorder.” See Dkt. 8 at 16. On August 15, 2015, Plaintiff emailed Defendant Patterson to inform him that a man was threatening her and her family. See Dkt. 8 at 16. Plaintiff alleges that in response to this email, Defendant Patterson scheduled a meeting with Plaintiff and several male members of SWBTS staff, in which “Patterson asked Roe humiliating questions about the assault, including whether Doe ejaculated and whether she had had her monthly period.” See id. at 17. According to Plaintiff, “Patterson seemed to enjoy making Roe even more uncomfortable.” See id. Plaintiff alleges “Patterson told her it was ‘a good thing' that she had been raped, because the right man would not care if she was a virgin or not. . . . Patterson told Roe he was ‘too busy' to deal with her report of rape[.]” See id.

         Plaintiff asserts Defendants were aware of Doe's bad acts and violations of campus policies because: (1) prior to enrolling, Doe allegedly met with Defendant Patterson regarding his criminal history, at which time he was encouraged to “fish” for a wife at SWBTS; and (2) Doe openly kept firearms in his campus residence and vehicle, including boasting about them and showing them to other SWBTS employees. See Dkt. 8 at 10-15. Further, Plaintiff alleges “Patterson acknowledged that often families sent their sons to SWBTS for him to ‘fix' them.” See Dkt. 8 at 17.

         Plaintiff reported the rape to the Fort Worth Police Department (“Fort Worth PD”). See Dkt. 8 at 17-18. Plaintiff asserts that Doe's room was searched and nine weapons were recovered, including firearms. See id. at 18. Plaintiff alleges Fort Worth PD “cautioned Patterson and directed him to refrain from contacting Doe about the rape allegations since doing so could endanger [Plaintiff]” but Patterson contacted Doe anyway. See Dkt. 8 at 18-20. Additionally, in response to an email regarding how to address Plaintiff's assault, Plaintiff alleges that Patterson responded, “I have to break her down and I may need no official types there but let me see.” See Dkt. 8 at 19.

         Later, at a meeting purportedly held to address “a rift” between Plaintiff and an assistant professor, Patterson was present. See Dkt. 8 at 20. Plaintiff alleges the purported rift was never discussed, but rather that Patterson discussed Plaintiff's sexual assault in front of the assistant professor, despite Plaintiff's request that the assistant professor be excused to protect her privacy. See id. At this time, Plaintiff alleges Patterson accused Plaintiff of lying about both the assault and Doe's firearms, discussed nude photos of Plaintiff, and “threatened to ‘unleash' lawyers on [Plaintiff's mother] if she dared question his leadership at SWBTS.” See id. at 20-21.

         Ultimately, Plaintiff withdrew from SWBTS. See id. at 22. Patterson was later removed from his post as President of SWBTS. See id. at 23. At the time Patterson was removed, Plaintiff alleges that “additional allegations of Patterson's wrongdoing surfaced-including his covering up a 2003 rape and misappropriating documents[.]” See id.

         Following Patterson's termination, Plaintiff alleges that Sharayah Colter (“Colter”), a SWBTS student and wife of an SWBTS employee, published a blog releasing confidential information about Plaintiff, which was later republished by media outlets. See Dkt. 8 at 24. Plaintiff further alleges Patterson's attorney, Shelby Sharp, issued a press release on June 4, 2018, which “included more untruths aimed at discrediting [Plaintiff].” See ...


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