NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A missionary and pastor charged with sexually assaulting a teen more than 20 years ago in Texas has ties to Arkansas.
Mark Aderholt, who was arrested earlier this month, served as a pastor at two Baptist churches in central Arkansas.
We spoke to people from both Central Baptist Church in North Little Rock and Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock who know Aderholt. They would not go on camera but talked about how much they love him and called him a good family man to his wife and three kids.
The church members said who they are not familiar with is the man his accuser describes.
“The more vulnerable, lonely part of me saw that as, ‘Oh wow, there’s this man of God that is interested in me,'” Anne Miller told our sister station, WRIC, in Richmond, VA after the Star-Telegram in Forth Worth, Texas broke the story. “I felt honored.”
According to the arrest warrant, Miller was 16 when she “became sexually intimate” with Aderholt, a youth pastor in Texas who was 25 at the time. It ended in 1997.
Ten years later, Miller questioned their relationship.
“I think I could be sexually abused,” she told a counselor.
Miller reported the alleged abuse to the International Mission Board in Virginia in 2007, where Aderholt had moved up the ranks as a missionary.
“The IMB decided to conduct an internal investigation,” she said.
According to documents, IMB found, “It was more likely than not that Aderholt engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with Miller,” and she had “suffered as a result of” it.
However, the religious organization never told police, and Aderholt was able to resign.
Miller thought he had been fired until this year.
“My heart just dropped,” she said. “It was like I had been misled by the IMB.”
In 2008, two months after he resigned, Aderholt was in Arkansas, working as the executive pastor at Central Baptist.
The current pastor would not comment and told us to contact the pastor who hired Aderholt.
We did. He is a pastor in Florida now.
We are still waiting on a call back.
Aderholt then worked at Immanuel Baptist as an associate pastor.
We are still waiting to hear from that pastor, too.
Aderholt left Immanuel Baptist about a year ago.
“When I learned Mark was not reported to authorities and given an opportunity to resign, I knew I had to do something,” Miller said.
She reported Aderholt to police earlier this month. He was arrested and charged in Texas with three felonies, two counts of indecency with a child under 17 by contact and one count of sexual assault.
“There is a moral obligation to protect to children, to protect the vulnerable,” Miller said.
IMB is the missionary arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
About a week after WRIC told Miller’s story, SBC announced it will launch a sex abuse task force, comprised of experts outside of the religious organization.
WRIC reports IMB’s president has apologized to Miller and plans to do an independent examination of its handling of this case and current practices.