Statute of Limitations Suspension for Clergy Sexual Misconduct Begins January 1, 2019

Posted on January 10, 2019

Letter to the Diocese of California from Bishop Marc Andrus

Dear friends in Christ,

This past summer, at our General Convention in Austin, Texas, the Episcopal Church took some historic and much-needed steps in addressing past abuses by clergy toward lay persons and toward other clergy in the Church. For far too long there has been too much silence, and often misdirection, when people were brave enough to bring such allegations forward. I am writing this letter, and asking that it be read in every congregation on Sunday January 20th and/or January 27th, in order to make you aware of the implementation of one specific resolution from General Convention, namely, D034, which called for the lifting of the statutes of limitations as spelled out in Title IV.19.4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church specifically as it relates to sexual misconduct of clergy. That three year period of suspension began on January 1, 2019 and will run until December 31, 2021.

While the canon in question, and all the wording of D034, is attached to this letter and available on our diocesan website and in hard copy for anyone who wishes to have it in that form, the basic result of this suspension is that any allegation against a cleric in this Church for acts of sexual misconduct may be brought forward in this three year window, regardless of any prior invoking of a statute of limitations. In short, you do not have to wonder if the allegation comes from too long ago.

In our diocese, the Intake Officers for such allegations are the Rev. Canon Abbott Bailey and the Rev. Eric Metoyer. They can be reached by emailing them at abbottb@diocal.org and/or ericm@diocal.org. They can also be contacted directly by phone by calling the diocesan office. If, for any reason you do not feel comfortable reporting this to either of them, you may also report to your local cleric, any diocesan staff member, and finally the bishop himself. Keeping your confidentiality, especially in the early phases of any allegation and investigation, is our duty.

I am in complete support of this measure, voted for it at General Convention, and believe the steps being taken currently to publicize the information widely are important and necessary. To that end, I am also attatching the letter on this topic addressed to the Church from the President of the House of Deputies, Gay Clark Jennings, and our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry. I urge you to read that too. (Letter included below)

There is yet much more work to do on this topic. Our diocesan convention passed a resolution at our most recent convention which calls for the creation of a Task Force on Sexual Harassment in our diocese. I invite anyone in the diocese, clergy or lay, to also offer your input on the creation of this committee.

I want to summarize that this resolution, as well as our diocesan policy, has as its goal to break down every possible barrier to reporting an allegation of sexual misconduct in this church. As President Jennings and Presiding Bishop Curry said so well in the end of their letter, I will end this one. May this resolution and other steps help “our church move closer to the day when, having repented of our sins and amended our common life, we may be restored in love, grace and trust with each other through our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Please pray for all those affected by misconduct, and pray for our Church.

In faith,

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus
Bishop of California

 

Letter to the Episcopal Church from the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies

from The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, and The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President, House of Deputies

Dear People of God in the Episcopal Church:

Nearly a year ago, we issued a call for the church to examine its history and come to a fuller understanding of how we have handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse through the years. In particular, we asked to hear voices from the wider church at General Convention so that deputies and bishops might consider both how to atone for the church’s past and shape a more just future. As followers of Jesus of Nazareth, as children of God with all people, we could do no less, and we must do more.

In July, General Convention considered 26 resolutions and one memorial addressing issues the #MeToo movement has brought to light, many of them developed by the House of Deputies Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation. One of these resolutions, Resolution D034, suspends for three years the canon (church law) that places a time limit on initiating proceedings in cases of clergy sexual misconduct against adults. There is no time limit on reporting clergy sexual misconduct against children and youth under age 21.

As a result of this resolution, from January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2021, those who wish to bring a case of sexual misconduct against a member of the clergy will be able to do so, regardless of how long ago the alleged misconduct occurred. Allegations of misconduct can be made to the intake officer in the diocese where the alleged misconduct occurred, or, if the allegation is against a bishop, to the Office of Pastoral Development. You can learn how to reach the intake officer in a diocese by checking its website (click here for DioCal's) or calling the bishop’s office.

We hope that this temporary suspension of the statute of limitations will be one way for the church to come to terms with cases of sexual misconduct in our collective past. Between now and General Convention in 2021, laypeople, clergy and bishops appointed to several task forces created by the 2018 General Convention will be working on other ways of addressing these issues, including a process to help the church engage in truth-telling, confession, and reconciliation regarding our history of gender-based discrimination, harassment and violence.

We are grateful to the many deputies, bishops and other volunteers across the church whose careful work before, during, and after General Convention is helping our church move closer to the day when, having repented of our sins and amended our common life, we may be restored in love, grace and trust with each other through our Savior Jesus Christ.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry                      The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
Presiding Bishop and Primate                        President, House of Deputies

(You can find the text of D034 here
You can find this letter from the President of the House of Deputies and the Presiding Bishop here)

 

Carta a la Iglesia Episcopal del Obispo Presidente, Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados

Suspensión del estatuto de limitaciones para mala conducta sexual del clero comienza el 1 de enero de 2019
 

Estimado Pueblo de Dios en la Iglesia Episcopal:

Hace casi un año, nosotros publicamos un llamamiento a que la iglesia examinara su historia y lograra una mejor comprensión de cómo hemos manejado o maltratado casos de acoso sexual, explotación y abuso a través de los años. En particular, pedimos escuchar las voces de la iglesia más amplia en la Convención General para que los diputados y obispos pudieran considerar tanto cómo expiar el pasado de la iglesia y formar un futuro más justo. Como seguidores de Jesús de Nazaret, como hijos de Dios con todo el mundo, no podíamos hacer menos y debemos hacer más.

En julio, la Convención General consideró 26 resoluciones y una conmemoraciónque abordan los asuntos que el movimiento #YoTambién (#MeToo) ha sacado a la luz, muchos desarrollados por el Comité Especial de la Cámara de Diputados sobre Acoso y Explotación Sexuales. Una de estas resoluciones, Resolución D034, suspende por tres años el canon (ley eclesiástica) que impone un plazo para iniciar procesos en casos de mala conducta sexual en contra de adultos por parte de clérigos. No existe un plazo para denunciar mala conducta sexual en contra de niños y jóvenes menores de 21 años de edad por parte de clérigos.

Como resultado de esta resolución, desde 1 de enero de 2019 hasta 31 de diciembre de 2021, los que quieren iniciar un caso de mala conducta sexual contra un clérigo podrán hacerlo, independientemente de hace cuanto tiempo ocurrió la supuesta mala conducta. Las alegaciones de mala conducta pueden presentarse al gestor en la diócesis donde ocurrió la supuesta mala conducta, o, si la alegación es contra un obispo, a la Oficina de Desarrollo Pastoral. Pueden aprender cómo comunicarse con el gestor en una diócesis buscando en su sitio web o llamando a la oficina del obispo.

Esperamos que esta suspensión temporal del estatuto de limitaciones será una manera en que la iglesia pueda aceptar los casos de mala conducta sexual en nuestro pasado colectivo. De aquí a la Convención General en 2021, los laicos, clérigos y obispos nombrados a varios grupos de trabajo por la Convención General de 2018 trabajarán en otras maneras de abordar estos asuntos, incluso un proceso de ayudar a la iglesia a involucrarse en la veracidad, la confesión y reconciliación respecto a nuestra historia de discriminación basada en género, acoso y violencia.

Agradecemos los numerosos diputados, obispos y otros voluntarios en toda la iglesia cuyo trabajo cuidadoso antes de, durante y después de la Convención General ayudan a que nuestra iglesia avance al día cuando, habiéndonos arrepentido de nuestros pecados y enmendado nuestra vida común, podamos ser restaurados en amor, gracia y confianza el uno con el otro mediante nuestro Salvador Jesucristo.

Fielmente,

El Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry                          La Rda. Gay Clark Jennings
Obispo Presidente y Primado                         Presidente, Cámara de Diputados