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Whistleblower protection needed at Church Center

Whistleblower protection needed at Church Center

The Living Church reports on the Executive Council meeting:

Policies for bringing wrongdoing to light at the Episcopal Church Center are out of date and require revision for the protection of employees, according to an audit committee report delivered June 9.

The report, presented during a meeting of Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission, marks the first time since a misconduct scandal broke in December that the church has publicly acknowledged a problem in its systems for uncovering misconduct.

Deficiencies came to light in during the investigation of senior staff and allegations of abuse and harassment.

Legal experts say Executive Council members could be held liable in two scenarios: (1) if they failed to care, be informed, or inquire enough to establish and oversee prudent safeguards during the misconduct period; or (2) if they now fail to buttress safeguards after receiving a thorough report about what went wrong. The audit committee’s concern about whistleblowing protocol raises questions about the reporting mechanisms in place while misconduct occurred.

Good practice requires that the chief executive be informed of reported incidents. It is not known if the reports were passed on to former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. New York state law prohibits retaliation against an employee for disclosing or threatening to disclose unlawful or dangerous behavior

Read more by TLC reporter G. Jeffrey MacDonald

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Eric Bonetti

Here's hoping for a policy that covers not just 815, but the entire church. We have serious governance gaps at every level and no protection at all for whistleblowers in most dioceses and parishes.

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Bill Reeder

What "legal experts" are these? In many jurisdictions, the liability of a director of a non-profit corporation is limited to the amount the director is compensated, i.e. nothing.

This is a lousy article.

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Harryh M. Merryman

In NYS, the laws governing non-profit boards are stringent (the Nonprofit Revitalization Act passed a couple of years ago) and individual members' liability can be significant if they fail to exercise their fiduciary responsibility in accordance with these laws. Assuming the organization is incorporated in NYS, the legal experts are absolutely correct.

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Ann Fontaine

Yes the DFMS (Episcopal Church) is incorporated in NYS

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Paul Woodrum

In the church, what you describe is called "transparency."

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Helen Kromm

"Deficiencies came to light in during the investigation of senior staff and allegations of abuse and harassment."

I'm not questioning the accuracy of that statement, but I can't find anything to substantiate it. The link above ("The Living Church") doesn't mention this. The link to read more by G. Jeffrey MacDonald simply opens up a link to send him an E Mail, and reveals his E Mail address.

I did find this by MacDonald:

http://religionnews.com/2016/04/14/gender-bias-may-be-part-of-episcopal-church-misconduct-scandal-says-staffer-184723/

That is pretty much a speculative piece, and cites gender bias, and not gender abuse or harassment.

So my question is how do we know this was a case of gender abuse or harassment. I think most people aware of this situation made that assumption- myself included. But I don't see anything that states this other than speculation.

I'm also confused by this statement:

"Good practice requires that the chief executive be informed of reported incidents. It is not known if the reports were passed on to former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori."

What reports? The investigation cited began after Michael Curry became Presiding Bishop. It references that the behavior started before his tenure began, but doesn't cite any reports or knowledge of this behavior coming to the attention of then PB [Jefferts] Schori.

The piece I cite by Macdonald largely relies on information provided by Rev. Bob Honeychurch. He relates complaints and issues regarding gender bias that came to him directly, but makes no mention of any reports. I don't doubt the validity of what he heard or saw, but I still can't find anything that connects the dots and reveals anything related to reports of this reaching PB [Jefferts] Schori, or that the recent investigation was based upon issues of sexual abuse and harassment.

Of course, I may be missing something or overlooking something here. But particularly as it relates to sexual harassment as the cause of the recent investigation, I don't see that substantiated.

Former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori uses both names, Jefferts Schori, as her proper surname. It has been common practice among her detractors to refer to her simply as Mrs Schori. - ed

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