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Suspension of the Statute of Limitations on Reporting Sexual Misconduct

February 6, 2019

Dear Diocesan Family:

Suspension of the Statute of Limitations on Reporting Sexual Misconduct

This past July at our General Convention, the Episcopal Church took the historic and grace-filled action of listening to the painful stories of survivors of prior sexual misconduct by church clergy, and re-examining church policies aimed at addressing such conduct. The testimony revealed the lasting and sometimes permanent nature of the harm suffered by survivors from these actions, and further revealed that it was not unusual for incidents of sexual abuse to go unreported due to fears of intimidation, retaliation or, simply that allegations would not be believed.

In response to this truth-telling, deputies and bishops at General Convention voted by overwhelming majorities to amend the canons of the church pertaining to clergy misconduct (Title IV.19.4) to allow a window for survivors to bring charges by temporarily suspending the statute of limitations for a three-year period to allow for the reporting of past instances of alleged sexual misconduct.

Resolution D034 (containing the amended canon), attached to this letter, now requires dioceses to accept any allegations of sexual misconduct reported by adult victims for any acts committed by bishops, priests, or deacons regardless of when those acts of misconduct occurred. The three-year suspension window opened on January 1, 2019 and will close on December 31, 2021, after which the statute of limitations will again be in effect.  The provision left intact the canon that provides there is no time limit on reporting clergy sexual misconduct against children and youth under age 21.

For anyone who believes that he or she may have been a victim of sexual misconduct at any time, you now have the opportunity to file your complaint during this three-year period.

In our diocese, the Intake officers for receiving such allegations are the Rev. Canon Gregory Jacobs at Episcopal House (973-430-9915; gjacobs@dioceseofnewark.org) or the Rev. Susan Chrystal (908-403-6597; spchrystal@gmail.com).  Anyone who has information regarding clergy sexual misconduct is required to forward that information immediately to one of the Intake Officers.

Also attached is the joint letter of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings, announcing this church’s renewal of its commitment to promoting justice, healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, amendment of life and reconciliation among all its members.

We remain committed to these same goals of providing a safe and welcoming environment for all and for doing all within our power to promote justice, reconciliation, healing, forgiveness, repentance, restitution, and amendment of life among ourselves as sisters and brothers in Christ in this diocese.

Grace and peace,

+Carlye J. Hughes

XI Bishop of Newark