The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop of Connecticut, announced a Title IV accord with The Very Rev. James A. Kowalski. Kowalski, now retired, served as the dean of St. John’s the Divine Cathedral from 2002-2017. The sexual abuse offenses occurred early in his priesthood when he served in the Diocese of Connecticut.
Details of the accord have not been revealed. The Living Church reports
because there was no change to Kowalski’s canonical status, Douglas said it was not necessary to disclose the terms of an agreement between a priest and his bishop.
Douglas said he had proposed the same accord with Kowalski very early in the disciplinary process, but Kowalski did not agree until the matter was referred to a hearing panel, which is essentially an ecclesiastical court. Under Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church, the disciplinary process is intended to remain confidential, up until the point it is sent to a hearing panel.
The hearing panel then begins to collect statements and information from the parties and schedules a hearing — essentially a trial — which is open to the public. The accord was reached before all of that could happen, and the matter is now closed. If Kowalski had accepted the accord before the referral to the hearing panel, the charges would not have been disclosed.
A Statement of Offenses was made public:
The evidence establishes that Reverend James Kowalski (Rev. Kowalski) and [redacted] had a pastoral relationship beginning in or about 1978 when [redacted] was in sixth or seventh grade and a parishioner at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown Connecticut where Rev. Kowalski was newly ordained clergy. In or about October 1984, Rev. Kowalski visited [redacted] in [redacted] where [redacted] was a first year undergraduate student at the [redacted] and under the age of 21. While visiting [redacted], Rev. Kowalski engaged in acts of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation with and against her will including but not limited to; asking [redacted] to lie with him on his hotel bed, embracing [redacted], and kissing her in a sexually explicit manner.
Kowalski married in 1976 and was ordained a deacon in 1978.
The Right Reverend Andrew M L Dietsche, Bishop of New York and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, issued a statement concluding,
The behaviors which led to the allegations, the disciplinary process, the investigation, and the Accord all occurred more than thirty years ago, when Dean Kowalski was a young priest serving parishes in the Diocese of Connecticut.
During the fifteen years that he served as the Dean of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, no allegations against him of inappropriate sexual behavior were ever received by the Board of Trustees of the Cathedral, nor by the Bishop of New York.
We remain proud of his exemplary performance as Dean of our cathedral, and of the spirit with which he cooperated with the investigation in the Diocese of Connecticut.
A former rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown has been accused of sexual misconduct with a female Newtown parishioner.
He said this week that the allegations were “deeply upsetting.”
Kowalski joined the Youth Services board of directors in Brattleboro, VT in September 2019.