Charges stem from 1997, according to warrant
Editor’s note: This story was updated July 10 to include an additional statement by SCBC executive director-treasurer Gary Hollingsworth, July 11 to include comments from a spokesperson for the International Mission Board, and July 16 to include a link from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram with additional information regarding the allegations.
Mark Aderholt, former associate executive director and chief strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, was arrested July 3 on charges of sexually assaulting a teenager in Arlington, Texas, more than 20 years ago.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Aderholt, 46, was arrested in South Carolina on a warrant issued in a Tarrant County case and later released on bond. (For a more extensive article, visit https://www.star-telegram.com/living/religion/article214758515.html.)
On July 10, Gary Hollingsworth, South Carolina Baptist Convention executive director-treasurer, who was ill at home, said through a spokesperson via telephone, “Our hearts are grieved, but we are trusting the authorities.”
Later the same day, in an emailed statement, Hollingsworth said, “In light of recent news related to Mr. Aderholt, our hearts are grieved and our prayers are with everyone involved.”
Last month, on June 19, Hollingsworth said he had accepted Aderholt’s resignation “with a heavy heart.”
Aderholt was charged with sexual assault of a child under 17, according to Tarrant County court records.
The charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The alleged offense occurred in 1997 in Arlington, court records show.
Aderholt graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth in 2000 with a master of divinity degree. He formerly served in Europe as a missionary with the International Mission Board.
The IMB told Baptist Press that Aderholt served with the board from 2000-2008. The IMB learned about the charges against him from the Star-Telegram’s July 9 report, IMB spokesperson Julie McGowan said, adding, “It is our policy to cooperate with criminal investigations.”
McGowan said in written comments to Baptist Press and The Baptist Courier that “IMB has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual misconduct that is shared with all personnel. If anyone has knowledge of a case involving sexual misconduct, we strongly encourage them to come forward, and we provide multiple avenues for them to report. When we are informed of possible cases of sexual misconduct of any kind, we investigate those situations immediately and, if warranted, take the appropriate action to report it to local authorities and remove individuals from IMB employment.
“IMB has a process by which any church, SBC entity or other employer can request information on former personnel they’re looking to hire by contacting us at email@example.com,” McGowan said. “Details of how we seek to cooperate with our partners in this resource can be found at imb.org/for-churches/abuse-harassment/, along with IMB’s statement on our zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and abuse. We actively encourage all churches — and any potential employers of former IMB personnel — to utilize this resource.”