A press release from the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania:
HARRISBURG, October 10–Bishop Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania today removed the Rev. Howard White from the priesthood.
White, 75, was among several adults who sexually abused students at St. George’s School in Middleton, Rhode Island in the 1970s and 80s, according to a report released recently by independent investigators on behalf of the school.
In the wake of media reports about sexual abuse at St. George’s, several people from other Episcopal dioceses in which White had worked said that he sexually abused them when they were young.
“We are committed to keeping God’s children safe, and we are heartbroken when we fail,” Scanlan said. “My hope is that the appalling events documented at St. George’s School will lead our church to intensify its efforts to protect young people in every setting, and continue our commitment to preventing abuse with thorough training for clergy, staff and volunteers who work with children.”
White accepted the notice that he is no longer a priest, which the church refers to as a “deposition,” but did not admit guilt. Scanlan had placed him on leave in January when the allegations first surfaced, and prohibited him from functioning as a priest or being alone with minors. White retired in 2006, but was serving as a supply, or “Sunday only,” priest on weekends at St. James Episcopal Church in Bedford.
Scanlan also met this evening with members of the parish to inform them of her decision and to offer pastoral care to the parish. “I assured them that my staff and I would accompany them in this difficult time,” she said.
No allegations of abuse have been lodged against White during his time in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, but as a priest in that diocese, he has been under Scanlan’s authority since she became bishop in September 2015.
###Press release ends###
The charges against White from his time at St. George’s are not the only charges against him. There are charges dating from when he entered the priesthood in the Diocese of West Virginia and was serving in West Virginia. Shortly after entering the priesthood he left West Virginia and became a chaplain at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire. Within a few years he had moved on to St. George’s. And there are later charges from his time in the Diocese of Western North Carolina.
For more on the trail of trauma left by Howard White, and questions shortcomings of the church’s system of child protection in his case, check earlier coverage from the Episcopal Café.
The AP’s report on Scanlon’s action to depose White reviews the other allegations against White, and reminds us that “The Diocese of Southeast Florida also is investigating a retired priest and former headmaster at St. George’s, the Rev. George E. Andrews, who is accused of failing to report sexual abuse by a teacher to authorities when he led the school in the 1980s.”
Photo from the Providence Journal.