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Allegations of sexual harassment and pornography have sidelined—at least temporarily—the approval of a New Hampshire priest who was elected the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. V. Gene Robinson, who won approval from lay and clergy delegates on Sunday, had been scheduled to face a confirmation vote by the church's House of Bishops on Monday. That vote was put on hold while a church committee investigates two separate allegations.

The last-minute accusations, aired just hours before Robinson's vote by the bishops, immediately raised charges of a last-ditch effort by conservatives to torpedo Robinson's election, which they have warned will split the church.

In a letter e-mailed to most church bishops, David Lewis of Manchester, Vt., alleged that Robinson "put his hand on me inappropriately every time I engaged him in conversation."

Lewis' letter seemed to indicate that the harassment occurred while he was an adult. Lewis said Robinson "does not maintain appropriate boundaries with men."

"If I were a straight woman reporting heterosexual harassment by a straight male priest, would you hesitate to take the matter seriously? Well, I am a straight man reporting homosexual harassment by a gay male priest from another diocese."

Messages left for Lewis at the phone number listed on his letter of accusation were not immediately returned.

In addition, Robinson came under fire for his association with a gay youth group he co-founded in Concord, N.H. The group's website allegedly contained secondary links to pornographic material on other websites.

"The standing committee and bishop of New Hampshire, together with the bishop-elect, Canon Robinson, have asked that a thorough investigation be undertaken before we proceed ...

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August 2003

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