Thursday, June 26, 2008

Charles Bennison Convicted

An Episcopal bishop was found guilty by a church panel of covering up his brother's assaults of a teenage girl in the 1970s.

Charles E. Bennison Jr., 64, was convicted of two counts of engaging in conduct unbecoming of a member of the clergy, according to his attorneys and the church verdict, dated Tuesday and released Thursday. He could be reprimanded, suspended or ousted from the church.

"We are proud of the Episcopal Church for holding Bishop Bennison accountable, and for using an open and transparent process that allowed the truth to come to light," church attorney Lawrence White said in a statement Thursday.

It was not immediately clear when the sentence would be handed down for Bennison, bishop of the nation's fifth-largest Episcopal diocese. The special Court for the Trial of a Bishop must wait at least 30 days before handing down a sentence, and Bennison's attorneys said they will request a hearing before sentencing.

The victim, now 50, testified during a four-day ecclesiastical trial this month that the abuse by the bishop's brother, John Bennison, happened three to four times a week for several years. She testified that an encounter in a Sunday school classroom and another in a church office in 1973 were witnessed by Charles Bennison, who "opened the door, took a look at us, turned around and walked out."

At the time, Charles Bennison was rector of St. Mark's Church in Upland, Calif., in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and his brother was a married lay minister there.

Source: The Washington Times

For background go here and here.

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