Contact: Meredith Kadet Sanderson | (315) 569-3767 | [email protected]
Diocese announces investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing by New Hartford priest
New Hartford, NY—September 24, 2019
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe, Bishop of Central New York, today announced that the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York is investigating alleged financial wrongdoing on the part of the Rev. Joell Szachara, who had served as rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in New Hartford, NY. The Diocese has engaged Dannible and McKee LLP to conduct a forensic audit of the finances of St. Stephen’s Church. When the audit is completed, diocesan leaders may pursue disciplinary measures under church law and potentially refer the matter to law enforcement officials.
As the investigation continues, Bishop Duncan-Probe has placed the Rev. Joell Szachara on administrative leave, restricting her from engaging in ministry of any kind. At the bishop’s direction, Szachara has resigned from her position as rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in New Hartford and all other diocesan leadership and pastoral ministry positions. Diocesan leaders are working with the leadership of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church to ensure appropriate fiduciary processes are implemented and to provide pastoral support to parish members.
“We regret deeply the misconduct of any clergyperson in the church,” said Bishop Duncan-Probe. “Such misconduct represents a betrayal of the sacred trust conferred on the church by its people and the wider community. We are working with civil authorities in this matter. Our primary concern will be caring for those who are impacted by this painful situation, particularly the people of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, the Utica and New Hartford community, and the people of the wider diocese.”
Established in 1868, The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York is made up of 12,000 faithful Christians worshipping in 88 Episcopal congregations and chapels, including one college chaplaincy. The Diocese is part of The Episcopal Church in the worldwide Anglican Communion. The diocese extends to 14 counties in the center of New York State: Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Seneca, Tioga and Tompkins.