On October 16, 2020, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe sent the following letter to the clergy, wardens, and vestry of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Skaneateles, the Dean of the Syracuse/Finger Lakes West District, members of the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee, the diocesan staff, our diocesan Intake Officers, our Chancellors, and our diocesan Pastoral Care Team.
October 16, 2020
To the Clergy, Wardens, and Vestry
of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Skaneateles
I am writing to inform you that a lawsuit has been filed against St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Newark and the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. The suit contains allegations of sexual abuse of minors by the Rev. Edward Putnam while he was rector of St. Mark’s Church in the 1970s. I am sharing this information with you because Putnam served in our diocese from 1986 to his retirement in 2004. In 2007, my predecessor, Bishop Adams, suspended Putnam’s ministry for twenty years following an investigation that led to Putnam’s admission to inappropriate conduct with minors during Putnam’s tenure as rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Skaneateles between 1986 and 1993. Putnam died in 2016 while under this suspension of ministry.
The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York takes clergy misconduct complaints very seriously and we are committed to ensuring the safety of all people in our congregations and diocesan programs. We cooperate fully with civil authorities in all investigations related to criminal sexual misconduct, and require all clergy, church employees, and volunteers to participate in Safe Church training to protect children and adults from sexual abuse and misconduct.
Our diocesan Safe Church policies are available at cnyepiscopal.org/safechurch. If you or anyone you know is aware of any violation of these policies, including any violation related to the allegations against the Rev. Putnam, there is a process in place to support you and to investigate and respond to clergy misconduct complaints. I encourage you to contact any of our three diocesan Intake Officers.
In addition to our Intake Officers, who handle clergy misconduct complaints in accordance with the canons of The Episcopal Church, we also have a Pastoral Care Team of professional clinicians. They are available to provide counseling and pastoral care to victims of sexual abuse and misconduct at no cost. Any of our three Intake Officers can make a referral to this team.
Our commitment to “a world healed by love,” is reflected in all that we do, especially in the sacred work of safeguarding the most vulnerable members of our community. Please join me in praying for all who have been affected by sexual abuse, exploitation, or harassment in our Church. Please pray also for our diocesan leaders as we work to respond to this suffering. Working together, may we truly establish a safe and healthy church.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe
Bishop of Central New York
Cc: The Diocesan Board and Standing Committee, the diocesan staff, Intake Officers, Chancellors, Pastoral Care Team members, District Dean (Syracuse-Finger Lakes West)