CT diocese resolves 1984 abuse claims against retired St. John the Divine dean

Episcopal News Service

July 20, 2020

By Egan Millard

Connecticut diocese resolves case of abuse claims from 1984 against retired St. John the Divine dean

The Very Rev. James Kowalski, who served as the dean of New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine from 2002 to 2017, has reached an agreement with the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to end a clergy misconduct case involving sexual abuse allegations from 1984.

Kowalski was accused of engaging in “acts of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation” with a college freshman who had previously been a parishioner at a church he served in Newtown, Connecticut; the diocese did not specify her age except to say she was under 21 at the time, meaning there is no statute of limitations for making the allegation under the church’s Title IV disciplinary process. Kowalski, now 68 and retired, would have been 33 at the time.

“The claims that have been put forth, about an incident alleged to have happened more than 30 years ago, are deeply upsetting to me and my family,” Kowalski wrote in an email to Episcopal News Service. “Although there are aspects of [the] accord that I do not agree with, I believe it is in the best interest of me, my family and the church.”

The accord, announced on July 17, resolves the Title IV case against Kowalski. Kowalski agreed to the accord after the diocese decided that the case would proceed to a hearing panel, which is similar to a trial court. The accord means the case is settled and will not go to a hearing panel.

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