Suspended Episcopal bishop making final appeal
Tue, May. 4, 2010
By David O'Reilly
Inquirer Staff Writer
In his last chance to save his career, suspended Episcopal Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. will ask a church appeals panel Tuesday to restore him as head of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
In 2008, a lower church court found Bennison, now 66, guilty of failing to respond adequately when, as rector of a California parish in the 1970s, he discovered that his brother John was sexually abusing a minor girl of his parish.
That court ordered Bennison permanently removed as head of the 55,000-member diocese - comprising Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester Counties - and defrocked as a bishop and a priest. He became bishop in 1998.
The Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop, made up of nine U.S. bishops, will convene 10 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Wilmington to hear the appeal.
Bennison's lawyer, James Pabarue, has indicated he will argue that the sentences are too harsh and that Episcopal Church leaders may have suppressed exculpatory evidence from the 2008 trial. Story