Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sex Abuse Allegation

While I hold no grief for the inexperienced and poorly trained, most recent rector of Trinity, San Francisco, I believe he got the canonical shaft.

Clerics who get accused of sex abuse are presumed guilty until they prove their innocence. Just the opposite of the American way and principle, that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Thus the cleric gets screwed by the present canons and rules of the church. The Bishop alone evaluates the charge and the cleric is relieved of his office until the charges are investigated further. The cleric’s name is made public to the congregation, diocese and press. The person who makes the charge remains anonymous. The people of the parish are in shock, suspicion and uncertainty. Money, members and attendance drop like boulders off a cliff. All this in the name of protecting the accused. Who protects the cleric, the congregation? The canons of the church continue to support a victim mentality.

The cleric’s name is dirtied, reputation smirched and chances for a job limited. This system sucks.

When these canons went into effect a priest-lawyer proclaimed that when people become ordained they give up their rights as citizens of the United States. I’ll tell you right now, I did not give up my civil rights when I was ordained and will fight to uphold them in the courts if necessary.

A physician accused of sex abuse is allowed to practice, doing surgery, giving physical exams and prescribing medicine until an inquiry results in a guilty verdict. Then the doctor is punished. Not until then is the physician’s name published. Just being accused punishes the cleric. Something like the protections physicians have should be in place for Episcopal clergy.

The canons of the diocese and church need to change to make sure the church operates in a way that a cleric is innocent until proven guilty.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I appreciate and concur with your thoughts on the matter of James. I know that while you haven't been one of his fans, it is good that you share your belief in social justice and about its absence here.
Indeed the Diocese has given James no assistance as a newly ordained priest and has just hung him out to dry, so to speak.
This ALSO supports your stance with the Bishop during your tenure at Trinity. You did things your way guided by God and it was the right way... this was a great contribution to Trinity.

Robert M

10:46 PM  

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