From the Tallahassee Democrat:
Eric Dudley, the founder of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Tallahassee and an outspoken opponent of homosexuality, subjected aspiring priests and other young men to sexual misconduct and harassment and abused his power as long-time rector before he finally was forced to resign.
That’s according to a report by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), an independent group that helps churches with abuse inquiries and investigated allegations against Dudley.
The report, released Tuesday, illustrates how he pursued attractive young men, showering them with attention and gifts and giving them jobs at the church, even as he publicly espoused anti-gay views.
Beyond the misconduct committed by Dudley, the organization found that the church did not take “substantive action” in response to complaints against him for a number of years.
The report said some members and leaders at St. Peter’s knew about misconduct complaints against Dudley since 2011 but that nothing was done until more allegations surfaced last year.
…A witness who worked many years at the church told investigators of “a pattern of young males that seemed to have captured our rector’s eye.” Another said Dudley appeared drawn to good-looking, thin and fit young men, the kind “that women notice when they walk into a room.”
The Rev. Robert Duncan, bishop in residence at St. Peter’s, noted that the church entered into “restoration” with Dudley’s victims, including providing financial support, counseling and leaves of absences.
“We are profoundly sorry for what happened to the victims and their families and faithful people who trusted their shepherd and the safety of their church,” he told the Democrat. “We’re profoundly sorry that a shepherd would hurt his sheep.”
The article goes on to describe Dudley’s pattern of behavior during his tenure, both with his victims and with staff members at St. Peter’s.
“Once Father Eric developed enough trust in his relationships with the reported victims, he would use abusive tactics to further manipulate them,” the report said. “Again, Father Eric followed a pattern, exploiting his reported victims emotionally, financially, spiritually and physically.”
…Employees at St. Peter’s complained to investigators about Dudley’s problems with anger. They said he yelled and screamed, banged his fists on his desk and made employees cry. Workers also complained that Dudley made them feel uncomfortable when he walked around shirtless at a staff retreat.
One employee said that after bringing up workplace concerns with Dudley, he became defensive before flying to a rage, shouting until he was red in the face. Dudley told the employee to get out of his office.
“I said, “Father Dudley, can we pray about this?’ ” the employee said. “He refused.”
Dudley was removed from his duties at St. Peter’s in 2018. As the Democrat reported at the time,
Gulf Atlantic Diocese’s Bishop The Rt. Rev. Neil G. Lebhar said complaints about Dudley were brought to him during the senior priest’s sabbatical and an inquiry was launched.
“Father Dudley admitted to inappropriate treatment of others, abuse of alcohol, and anger issues,” Lebhar wrote. “The complaints included patterns of undesired physical displays of affection which were deeply damaging to others and contrary to diocesan harassment policy.”
Lebhar did not further characterize the allegations but said Dudley “accepted responsibility for his admitted actions.”
“He recognized his own and his family’s needs for longterm therapy and healing, and he understood that he was currently in no position to function as a priest.”
In a statement available on the St. Peter’s website, which also links to the full report from the GRACE team and a letter to the congregation, the cathedral says that,
Following the resignation of Eric Dudley, the former dean of St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, the Church commissioned an independent investigation by the Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment (“GRACE”). This week, we received the results of that investigation, providing documentation that the former rector engaged in sexual misconduct against certain adult staff members and one other non-staff adult, abused his authority as an employer and a priest, and emotionally harmed those in his charge. Mr. Dudley has since been removed as a priest of the Anglican Church in North America. During this difficult period, we worked together with our Bishop Neil Lebhar and other leaders in our Diocese.
This has been a sad chapter in the history of this extraordinary Church. The report documents the profound pain suffered by the victims of this abuse, and we are deeply sorry for what happened and especially for any actions or inactions that the church and its members may have taken that increased their suffering. As soon as the church became aware of the victims, we entered into a process of restoration with them, including agreements to provide for counseling and financial support, so they could begin their healing. We continue to pray and work for healing for those who have been hurt by these tragic events.