The former Episcopal bishop of Montana is appealing against a church court decision that led to his resignation over charges of sexual misconduct.

The appeal, filed on May 11 by Charles I. "Ci" Jones III, challenges the decision by a court of bishops recommending that Jones be defrocked as a priest and also alleges that the head of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, improperly influenced the case.

The 17-count appeal challenges nearly every decision made by the court, which recommended, on a 7-2 vote on February 14, that Jones be defrocked—meaning Jones would no longer be able to administer the sacraments, the most severe punishment possible under church law.

The church court had found Jones guilty of sexual misconduct for having an extramarital affair with a married woman church employee while Jones was rector of a parish in the state of Kentucky in the early 1980s.

At the center of Jones's appeal is the contention that he should not have been tried on charges of sexual misconduct because he had already been disciplined by Bishop Griswold's predecessor, Bishop Edmond Browning, and that the trial amounted to a kind of double jeopardy, with a second set of charges being based on previous allegations and accusations.

The court of bishops ruled, however, that a presiding bishop does not have the authority to discipline a sitting diocesan bishop. It said that the arrangement between Jones and Browning, which called for Jones to undergo pastoral counseling, did not preclude a formal trial.

Jones's appeal also alleges that Bishop Griswold improperly influenced the trial by making a "hearsay statement" on the case. Bishop Griswold had urged the court to recommend that Jones be defrocked.

Bishop Griswold has not formally ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
Posted: