From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Robinson exonerated

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Tue, 5 Aug 2003 20:53:21 -0400

August 5, 2003

Robinson exonerated
Investigation find 'no necessity to pursue' allegations

by Richelle Thompson
[ENS] With every seat filled in the House of Bishops - 302 chairs in the
visitors gallery and 27 seats in the press area - Bishop Gordon Scruton
rose Tuesday afternoon to the podium and detailed his investigation into
allegations of wrongdoing by Bishop-Elect Gene Robinson. 

"The Gospel of Jesus Christ and our Canons require us to hold each other
accountable for our character and our behavior," Scruton read from a
prepared text. "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 be shown to all parties involved."

Late Sunday evening, after the House of Deputies confirmed the election
of Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, a Vermont Episcopalian sent an
e-mail to his bishop, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Ely. In the e-mail, the man
claimed, "I am a straight man reporting homosexual harassment by a gay
male priest from another diocese."

Ely contacted the individual and assured him the "church takes such
concerns seriously," Scruton said. Asked by Presiding Bishop Frank
Griswold, the New Hampshire Standing Committee and Robinson to conduct
an investigation into the allegations, Scruton said he talked with the
Vermont man on Monday afternoon.

The Vermont man alleged Robinson inappropriately touched him on two
occasions during a November, 1999, Province I Convocation at the Mont
Marie Conference Center in Holyoke, Mass. 

On one occasion, the man said Robinson put his left hand on the man's
arm and a right hand on the individual's upper back. The incident was in
public view and was brief. 

In the second incident, the man claimed Robinson touched his forearm and
back in response to a comment the man made.

"The individual 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 intimacy than was the case,'' Scruton
said. "The individual said these incidents made him feel uncomfortable."

Despite not reporting the incidents to anyone other than his wife, the
Vermont man said he felt compelled to share the experience after the
House of Deputies approved the election on Sunday.

"He expected his concern would be brushed under the rug," Scruton said.
"He thought the church would close ranks and not listen to him."

The man said he did not want to file a formal charge of harassment
against Robinson. "He was thankful the church has taken this seriously
and that he felt listened to," Scruton said.

Bishop Ely and the man's parish priest are maintaining an ongoing
pastoral relationship. 

The second allegation stemmed from concerns about an adult-content Web
site. Two bishops brought the site to the attention of the
parliamentarian of the House of Deputies, who then contacted the
chancellor to the presiding bishop.

The Web site could be reached through a link from a chapter of an
organization known as Outright, which was founded to provide support and
counseling for young gay, lesbian and bisexual people. The question was
to what extent Robinson was involved in creation and maintenance of the

Scruton said his investigation revealed that Robinson helped found
Outright in 1995 and ended his involvement in 1998, four years before
the organization's Web site was established. 

"I see no evidence that Canon Robinson was aware of or associated with
the Web site or its contents," Scruton said. He concluded there was no
reason "to pursue further investigation and no reason on these grounds
to prevent the bishops with jurisdiction from going forward with their

After the report, the bishops shared in private conversation loosely
based on an Ignatian process of communal discernment. Griswold asked the
bishops to pray for their "interior spirit," then to spend 15 minutes
giving reasons why Robinson should not be elected. The bishops then
prayed again and shared reasons why they should give consent to the

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