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Diocese refers information about alleged financial wrongdoing by New Hartford priest to law enforcement officials
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31, 2019
New Hartford, NY—The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York and the Vestry of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in New Hartford, NY have today turned over to law enforcement officials materials relevant to alleged financial wrongdoing by the Rev. Joell Szachara, the former rector of St. Stephen’s. These materials include a report of an audit of the finances of St. Stephen’s Church conducted for the Diocese and the Vestry by Dannible & McKee, LLP.
The Diocese first announced an investigation of the alleged wrongdoing on September 24, 2019. Two days prior, Central New York Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe had placed Szachara on administrative leave, restricting her from engaging in ministry of any kind. In August 2019, Szachara had resigned at the bishop’s direction from her position as rector of St. Stephen’s and from all other diocesan leadership and pastoral ministry positions. Diocesan leaders are working with the Vestry of St. Stephen’s Church to ensure appropriate fiduciary processes are implemented and to provide pastoral support to parish and community members.
“The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York is committed to transparency and accountability, and to acting in a manner worthy of the sacred trust placed in the church by its members and the wider community,” said Bishop Duncan-Probe. “We are grateful to the law enforcement officials of New Hartford and Oneida County. Our primary concern will continue to 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 worshiping 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.