Ecclesiastical disciplinary proceedings under way in St. George’s sex scandal case

The Providence Journal has a long investigative piece on church discipline the St. George’s school case. In January, Diocese of Rhode Island bishop Nicholas Knisley called for appropriate disciplinary action against three individuals.

Concerning the Rev. George E. Andrews, II:

As a result of Knisely’s letter, the Rev. George E. Andrews II, a former St. George’s headmaster, is also under ecclesiastical review for not reporting sexual abuse at the school. …

From another item appearing the same day in the Providence Journal, 

Bishop Peter Eaton [of the Diocese of Southeast Florida] said a Title IV reference panel convened recently in the Andrews matter and opted to delay proceedings until the Rhode Island State Police and an outside investigator for St. George’s conclude their reviews.

See our earlier reporting on the Rev. Andrews, a former president of the National Association of Episcopal Schools. According St. George’s own earlier investigation and admission, Andrews dismissed former choirmaster Franklin Coleman but did not report allegations of abuse to Rhode Island state authorities as required by law.

Concerning the Rev. Howard White who is canonically resident in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania:

The church has begun an investigation into White’s actions — at the same time that both Rhode Island State Police and an independent investigator try to uncover the full extent of what occurred at St. George’s. …

Careful readers will notice,

A man who identified himself as “the answering service” for “Doctor White” told The Journal recently that White “is in Aruba with family” and will return in mid-February. …

News that White may have flown off to the Dutch Caribbean island surprised Scanlan. …

We suspect, at best, that the “answering service” didn’t want to give the reporter a serious answer, and, at worst, that the answering service is not taking the accusations against White seriously.

The Rev. Howard White was dismissed in 1974 as chaplain of St. George’s Episcopal School after two students accused him of sexual abuse. At the time a different former headmaster, Anthony Zane, did not report these allegations to child services in Rhode Island as required by law.

Zane is not ordained, distinguishing his situation from Andrews’.

A new accusation against White

Now White has been accused again, this time in North Carolina.

Bishop G. Porter Taylor of the Diocese of Western North Carolina has issued this letter dated February 6. An excerpt:

Just a few weeks ago I wrote to let you know that Howard White, the rector at Grace Church in the Mountains (Waynesville) from 1984 to 2006, had been identified by former students of St. George’s School in Rhode Island as having engaged in sexual misconduct in the early 1970s while he served on the staff at that school. I am writing again to share more difficult news with you. Earlier this week I received an email message from a person informing me that she had been sexually abused by the Rev. White many years ago during his tenure as rector at Grace in the Mountains and while she was a minor. ….

We also notified the district attorney’s office and police. In deference to their responsibilities and any possible criminal prosecutions, we will share all that we can and will assist their investigators. Finally, Canon Jim Pritchett provided this information to the Intake Officer (who receives and acts upon disciplinary complaints about priests) of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. The Rev. White is resident in that diocese. At this time he has been suspended from exercising any priestly duties.

It is important that we have a full understanding of any misconduct that may have occurred to others so that we can do our best to support them. Therefore, I ask anyone who experienced, or is aware of, any sexual misconduct by the Rev. White while he was a resident in our diocese to please let us know. ….

After his dismissal from St. George’s school White served at Chatham School and Asheville Country Day School before arriving at Grace Church in the Mountains. Known as “Howdy”, White recently celebrated his 50th year of ordained ministry. His bio can be found here.

The development in North Carolina came to our attention via the Providence Journal:  Priest investigated in St. George’s School abuse is accused again – in N.C.

The third individual

The third individual, former choirmaster Frank Coleman, is not ordained and is presently retired. Thus, he is not expected to face church discipline. He would not be permitted to work in a school or church setting.

Others?

The alumni and the trustees have agreed to an independent investigation which is underway. Questions that already surround the case are misconduct, as in White’s case, and failure to report, as in Andrews’ case. But the failure to report extends to failure report later. Have subsequent headmasters or trustees failed to act on allegations brought to them? During Q&A at Presiding Bishop Curry’s appearance at the National Press Club a question is asked about a “retired bishop” (at the 36 minute mark) — bishops serve ex officio on St. George’s board.

In a letter to White dated September 19, 1974, headmaster Anthony Zane writes “I am glad that you have talked to Bishop Belden….” (Exhibit DD here at SGS  for Healing). Fredererick Belden was Bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island from 1972 until his death in 1979.

The Episcopal Church’s disciplinary process

This Providence Journal article linked above explains the Title IV process.

The Episcopal Church’s program for protecting children, youth and adults

Every Episcopal Diocese is mandated to have a Safe Church Program. Rhode Island’s is described here. As another example, see the Safe Church Program in the Diocese of Fort Worth.


Image via Google is a clip from the Times-News of Hendersonville, NC, July 21, 1982 — four years prior to the start of White’s tenure at Grace Church in the Mountains.

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2 Comments
  1. Isabel F. Steilberg

    I am so sad that there are no comments on this post (although many comments about polity and the Anglican Communion). God gives us children to care for. The reports from St. Paul’s School/New Hampshire and St. George’s School /Rhode Island call us to advocate seriously for those young/vulnerable people who depend on us to care. . .and to care no matter the risk to the “institution”.

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