From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Robinson investigation to proceed

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Mon, 4 Aug 2003 20:28:47 -0400

August 4, 2003

Robinson investigation to proceed
Conservative group says bishop-elect deserves fair treatment 

by David Skidmore
[ENS] The head of the American Anglican Council is giving the bishop
coadjutor-elect of New Hampshire the benefit of the doubt, as
investigations proceed into claims by a Vermont man that Canon Gene
Robinson acted inappropriately toward him at a province meeting several
years ago and reports that an organization connected to Robinson
published pornographic images on its Web site.

On Sunday night, David Lewis of Manchester, Vt., sent an e-mail to a
number of bishops, including Vermont's Bishop Thomas Ely, with his
complaints regarding Robinson, stating that at a Province I convocation
several years ago Robinson "put his hands on me inappropriately every
time I engaged him in conversation."  

Lewis, who lectures and writes theatrical reviews for the Manchester
Journal, urged the bishops to deny consent to Robinson's election as
bishop coadjutor of New Hampshire, alleging Robinson "does not maintain
appropriate boundaries with men."

In statements read on the floors of both houses Monday, New Hampshire's
Bishop Douglas Theuner and Standing Committee President the Rev. Randy
Dales said they had "full confidence in the Presiding Bishop's
commitment  to fully investigate these matters" and expressed "continued
confidence" in their bishop-elect. In remarks to a reporter after the
bishop's session this afternoon, Theuner said he had not been aware of
Lewis' allegations before Sunday's e-mail letter. 

Bishop Gordon Scruton of Western Massachusetts has been appointed by the
Presiding Bishop to lead the investigation. Scruton, who met with the
presiding bishop and Vermont's Bishop Ely after the House of Bishop's
afternoon session, was not available to speak with reporters. 

Robinson deserves chance to clear matter, conservatives say

Stating his organization had no connection with Lewis or the complaint,
AAC President the Rev. David Anderson said he would not "wish that
letter on anybody," given people's tendency to believe an allegation
even if proven unfounded. 

"I don't want to see Gene elected," admitted Anderson "but he deserves a
chance to defend himself and be heard and get the truth out." If the
charges are proven false, "then he deserves his chance to have an
honest, fair vote on the house floor." 

The impact of the allegations on confirmation could work both ways, said
Anderson. Those with "lingering doubts" might vote against concurrence,
while others might vote for Robinson "out of sympathy."

Anderson said he learned of the Lewis allegation around 9 a.m. Monday
when an AAC-affiliated bishop shared the e-mail sent to various bishops
by Lewis. "It left me speechless," said Anderson.

On the Web site issue - disclosed by a reporter at the Monday morning
news briefing - Anderson said he and other AAC officials discovered the
link to pornographic images while visiting the site of the Concord,
N.H., branch of Seacoast Outright, an organization supporting gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth.

On the site they discovered a link to a site called and
there found a window with pornographic images.

A check of the site for its New Hampshire branches found no
such links Monday afternoon.

Anderson said they were also concerned about the Outright site's mission
statement - which in part states its purpose is to "create safe,
positive, and affirming environments for young gay, lesbian, bisexual,
trans, and questioning people ages 22 and under." 

Said Anderson: "It raised some questions in our mind about how
appropriate it was for a church leader to be advocating [this

Web site charge debunked

In a statement released late Monday, Cathy Kidman, interim director of
the Portland branch of Outright, said they had removed a link from their
site to because that organization's site had a link to
an adult-content Web site. Thanking the media for alerting them to the
situation, Kidman said, "We do not believe the link in question is
appropriate on our Web site for the population we serve."

Kidman stressed that Robinson was not involved "at any time" in the
Portland Outright organization or its Web site. "This is clearly an
attempt to discredit his important nomination," said Kidman.

In a separate statement, Mim Eastron, executive director of the parent
organization - Seacoast Outright - said Robinson, to the best of their
knowledge, had not been involved with the Concord Outright organization
for some time. Robinson had helped found the Concord branch, said
Eastron, but has not been active for a number of years.

Eastron said a link to an adult-content Web site had been discovered on
the Concord branch's site and had been removed. "The adult site is not
something that we consider appropriate for any youth," said Eastron.

Episcopal News Service writer Richelle Thompson and Convention Daily
writer Mary Frances Schjonberg contributed to this report.

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