Title IV proceeding against Dunkle dismissed

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The Intake Officer of the Diocese of Florida has, with the concurrence of the Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard, dismissed a Title IV complain brought against the dean of The General Theological Seminary.

Bishop Mark Sisk, President of the Seminary’s Board of Trustee,s wrote a letter to the Board which has been posted on Facebook:

Attached please find a notice of dismissal of the Title IV complaint brought against Dean and President Kurt Dunkle in The Episcopal Diocese of Florida. The dismissal is based on a report by the Title IV Intake Officer and the findings were accepted by the Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, the bishop of the Dean’s canonical residence.

The allegations against Dean Dunkle have been now been thoroughly reviewed from an ecclesiastical, administrative and legal perspective by us and by two independent parties, who agreed  that this matter  should be dismissed.

This brings to a close a difficult chapter in the history of the General Theological Seminary that has caused great distress to everyone who loves this Seminary, including Dean Dunkle and his family. Two years ago the Board charged Dean Dunkle with the difficult but vital mission of ensuring that the Seminary can continue as a viable institution missionally and financially.   The Board  continues  to recognize  that the status quo is simply not  sustainable.

Under Dean Dunkle’s leadership, the Seminary has made significant progress in carrying out the Board’s directive to address our daunting financial challenges and implement our vision of how we educate and form a new generation of Church leaders to take on the pressing issues of a changing world. We all recognize that the work of change agents in times of dire need is not always  appreciated.

The Board expressed its full support of Dean Dunkle following the completion of the independent legal review it commissioned, and today, we reaffirm that support and thank him for his efforts. For the good of the institution, its students, and the Church, the entire Seminary must now come together. The Lombard Peace Process is facilitating that effort.

There is much left to do, and more change ahead. It is time to fully focus on building on our strong legacy of serving the Church.

Please feel free to share this letter with others who may express interest or concerns.

Posted by Andrew Gerns

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12 Responses to "Title IV proceeding against Dunkle dismissed"
  1. So the accusations came because people did not like what he was doing with the seminary and not because they experienced harassment? People risked their reputations and future careers making up stuff? Is this what Bp Sisk is saying?

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    • Title IV charges aren't always dismissed because the allegations are false. Intake officers get dozens of allegations along the lines of "My priest is kind of a jerk" every year. It might well be that such allegations are true, but they hardly constitute an offense of canon law.

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  2. The dean is thanked for his service, and the status quo is not sustainable... cue the foreshadowing music.

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  3. Mark Sisk's statement reminds me of the blog by Crusty Old Dean on how the Episcopal Church covers up abuse within its orders:
    http://crustyoldean.blogspot.com/2011/09/sexual-mote-in-our-eye.html

    In particular, this quote about the Diocese of New York when Bishop Sisk was the coadjutor:

    "Bishop Richard Grein of New York falsely accused a priest of financial misconduct, removed her from her post, placed the woman he was having an affair with in her place, divorced his wife, and married the woman he had appointed. A settlement later reached with the diocese of New York paid a financial settlement and agreed to remove any paperwork from the priest's file that had to do with financial misconduct, essentially admitting the charges were not valid. Three ecclesial charges were filed against Bishop Grein but no disciplinary action was ever taken."

    Enemies of the church would have a hard time inventing such damaging material.

    I agree with Ann Fontaine that it makes no sense that faculty would put their jobs on risk for a mere fantasy.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

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  4. This letter raises more questions than it answers. What were the allegations? Who brought them? We would view the dismissal of jaywalking charges differently from the dismissal of charges of harassment, conduct unbecoming, etc. Is the report of the intake officer available?

    Bishop Sisk says that charges against Dean Dunkle have been “thoroughly reviewed.” It is the job of the intake officer simply to determine whether “the information [i.e., allegations], if true, would constitute an Offense.” (See Canon IV.6.) If the intake officer investigated the truth of the allegations, he or she exceeded his or her authority.

    A dismissal can be appealed. Has whoever brought charges considered filing an appeal?

    According to Bishop Sisk, “This brings to a close a difficult chapter in the history of the General Theological Seminary that has caused great distress to everyone who loves this Seminary, including Dean Dunkle and his family.” I don’t think so.

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  5. In connection with Gary Paul Gilbert's comment, it is quite ironic that Bishop Grein was invited to be the guest preacher at one of General Seminary's recent and decreasing chapel services. It is also very clear to me and to many of my alum friends and classmates [excluding the Chair of the Board] that Bishop Sisk continues to dig a deeper and deeper hole. Recent pronouncements provide little solace that things are getting better, - indeed they are increasingly inflammatory and embarrassing to many.
    Lionel you are absolutely correct, No chapters are being closed - only put on the shelf wide open.

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  6. "This brings to a close a difficult chapter in the history of the General Theological Seminary that has caused great distress to everyone who loves this Seminary, including Dean Dunkle and his family."

    Yet another of Bishop Sisk's facile assessments, to which I would reply, "I wouldn't bet on it."

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    • What point is there in nursing grudges? The faculty got their jobs back, the dean is staying, and that's that.

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  7. The desire for closure on the part of the powerful denies ongoing injustice. The historic episcopate, according to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is supposed to be "locally adapted." But in this case a bishop as head of the board of trustees stands for injustice, while his predecessor (who retired with many questions about his ethics) is invited to preach in the seminary chapel. What kind of model is this for future priests of the church?

    Gary Paul Gilbert

    Gary Paul Gilbert

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  8. Pertinent quote from the Tom Ferguson link posted by Gary:

    Bishop Richard Grein of New York falsely accused a priest of financial misconduct, removed her from her post, placed the woman he was having an affair with in her place, divorced his wife, and married the woman he had appointed. A settlement later reached with the diocese of New York paid a financial settlement and agreed to remove any paperwork from the priest's file that had to do with financial misconduct, essentially admitting the charges were not valid. Three ecclesial charges were filed against Bishop Grein but no disciplinary action was ever taken.

    Mark Sisk was a silent coadjutor while this was going on, and arranged for a celebratory retirement for Grein in the cathedral church.

    Title IV charges were filed against Grein. Bishop Sisk wrote a letter to the diocese:

    "I regret to inform you that a civil complaint was
    recently made against The Rt. Rev. Richard Grein, retired Bishop of New
    York; The Rev. Anne Richards, former canon for Ministry Development,
    and the Rev. David Rider, Interim rector at Grace Church, Manhattan.
    This action is based upon decisions made during Bishop Grein's tenure.
    Additionally, ecclesiastical charges were filed with the Presiding
    Bishop against Bishop Grein."

    "The civil complaint has to do with a labor dispute concerning the
    dismissal of the Rev. Janet Kraft as Associate Priest at Grace Church,
    Manhattan. The ecclesiastical charges revolve around the same event and
    accuse the three named parties of conspiracy."

    "Unfortunately, there are occasions when the exercise of episcopal
    responsibilities is such that some parties in a dispute are not
    satisfied. Obviously this was such an occasion.""As a point of information, you should know that, in the
    case of the a bishop, ecclesiastical charges were filed with the
    Presiding Bishop, who has 90 days to refer the matter to a Review
    Committee if he believes such referral is warranted. The Standing
    Committee of the Diocese is not involved in cases concerning a bishop
    and will therefore play no role in the ecclesiastical charges.

    "I find it sad that such charges have been brought against a
    retired bishop in the Diocese he has served faithfully and well for so many years."

    The facts are not in dispute, but they don't seem to matter to Mark Sisk.

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  9. I have no dog in this fight; but I followed the transcript from complaint, through the process, to the end.

    All the Dean did was write to the Faculty group in a condescending tone about scheduling policies when he ought to have been listening --instead-- to their problems with the new schedule.

    That's all it was: poor communicating.

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