From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
[ENS] Text of investigation report released
"Mika Larson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tue, 5 Aug 2003 20:45:47 -0400
August 5, 2003
Text of investigation report released
Report to the House of Bishops
Rt. Rev. Gordon P. Scruton, Diocese of Western Massachusetts
August 5, 2003
On Monday, August 4, 2003 the Bishop, the President of the Standing
Committee and the Bishop-elect of the Diocese of New Hampshire asked the
Presiding Bishop to investigate two matters concerning the Bishop-elect
which had come to light Sunday evening. The Presiding Bishop asked me
to conduct the investigation, the focus of which was to determine if
either or both of the concerns raised constitute cause for further
investigation and thus sufficient reason to postpone the process of
seeking consents to the election of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ and our Canons require us to hold each other
accountable for our character and behavior. The Episcopal Church has
clear policies in place to guide our response in such instances. These
policies ensure that truth can be pursued and respect and care can be
shown for all parties involved.
B. First Concern
Late Sunday evening, August 3, 2003, an adult member of a Vermont
Episcopal congregation sent an E-mail to the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely,
Bishop of Vermont (attached). The E-mail stated that "I am a straight
man reporting homosexual harassment by a gay male priest from another
Diocese." Bishop Ely contacted the individual that evening, and the
following morning to inquire further about the concern being raised and
to assure the individual that the Church takes such concerns seriously.
The individual then indicated to Bishop Ely that he had sent the E-mail
to many bishops. Bishop Ely then informed the Bishop of New Hampshire
and the Presiding Bishop of the concern being raised.
On Monday afternoon I spoke by speaker phone with the individual in the
presence of Bishop Ely, his Chancellor, Thomas Little, and the Rev. Hays
Junkin, President of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of New
I asked the individual to tell the story of his experience that caused
him to raise his concerns. According to the individual, the events took
place at a Province I convocation in November of 1999, at Mont Marie
Conference Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts. There were two exchanges
between the individual and Canon Robinson at the convocation.
In the first, the individual was seated at the beginning of a plenary
session. As Canon Robinson was passing by him, the individual asked
Canon Robinson a question about the order of events or the schedule or
convocation procedure, or something of that nature. Canon Robinson put
his left hand on the individual's arm, and his right hand on the
individual's upper back as he listened to his questions and answered
them. This incident was in public view and was brief. The individual
said Canon Robinson answered his questions and spoke no inappropriate
words. The second incident occurred later in the convocation, while the
two were standing in proximity. During a light moment in the
convocation, the individual turned to Canon Robinson to make a comment.
In response, Canon Robinson touched the individual's forearm and back
while responding with his own comment.
The individual then described to me the feelings he had during these two
exchanges. He said that in his opinion, Canon Robinson's placement of
his hands seemed inappropriate to him, given that they did not know each
other, and presumed a far greater familiarity or intimacy than was the
case. The individual said these incidents made him feel uncomfortable.
He said he has never said anything to anyone about this, but did mention
it to his wife but not at the time. He acknowledged that other people
could have seen the exchange as natural and normal.
He said he had not thought that the House of Deputies was going to
consent to Canon Robinson's election, and when he learned consent had
been given, he found himself late Sunday night needing to tell someone
of his experience. He observed that when he wrote the E-mail, he was
feeling upset, in part because he expected his concern to be brushed
under the rug. He thought the Church would close ranks and not listen to
him. I asked him whether he wanted to bring a formal charge of
harassment. He said very clearly, no. He regretted having used the word
"harassment" in his E-mail.
The Title IV disciplinary process for priests was then explained to the
individual, and I asked him again if he wished to proceed to file a
written complaint. Again, he indicated that he had no desire to pursue
the matter any further. He said he was thankful the Church has taken
this seriously, and that he felt "listened to." He also indicated that
he was not seeking any personal attention or notoriety, and regrets that
it has been taken this way by some.
Bishop Ely knows the individual and is maintaining ongoing pastoral
contact with him and his family, both personally and through their
C. Second Concern
The second focus of my investigation involved concerns about a
pornographic web site. Two bishops brought the website to the attention
of the parliamentarian of the House of Deputies who reviewed the
material and contacted the Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop on Sunday
The concern expressed has been the involvement or lack of involvement of
Canon Robinson with the website. The website in question could be
reached through a link from the Concord, New Hampshire Chapter of an
organization known as Outright. Canon Robinson has referred to his
involvement with this organization in his resume, which is on the
Diocese of New Hampshire website. He has also referred to his
involvement with that organization in hearings during this Convention as
an example of his work with youth.
In my investigation I have consulted with Canon Robinson and I have
reviewed the website of Concord Outright. At the formal request of an
American Anglican Council representative who this morning provided the
Presiding Bishop with a disk prepared on August 2nd, I have reviewed a
down stream link site which showed graphic sexual materials. I have also
had communications from Outright in Portland, Maine where the web site
is based, and from representatives of Outright in Concord and I have
carefully reviewed them.
What appears to be beyond dispute is that Canon Robinson helped to found
Concord Outright in 1995. Investigation shows that the organization was
founded to provide support and counseling for young people concerned
about their sexuality. Canon Robinson's role in the Concord Chapter of
Outright was primarily to provide training to insure that appropriate
boundaries were observed for the protection of both young people and
those working with them.
Canon Robinson ended his involvement in Outright in 1998 and has not
been associated with Outright since that time. The web site was
established in 2002. Canon Robinson was not aware that the organization
has a website until this Convention. The response of Outright
emphasized to me that Canon Robinson has had no part in the creation of
I see no evidence that Canon Robinson was aware of or associated with
the website or its contents.
In both allegations, it is my conclusion that there is no necessity to
pursue further investigation and no reason on these grounds to prevent
the Bishops with jurisdiction from going forward with their voting about
whether or not to consent to Canon Robinson's Consecration.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of New Hampshire concurs in these
conclusions and continues to seek the required consents.
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