Gay Bishop Vote Delayed Over Abuse Allegation

Mon. August 4, 2003 12:00 AM by

Minneapolis, Minnesota - A final vote on whether to confirm Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire was halted Monday after allegations arose that he had "improperly touched" another man, and was involved in a "pornographic website."

The presiding bishop of the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold, said he will make a statement later today.

If confirmed, Robinson would become the first out bishop of the American branch of the Anglican faith.

Jim Solheim, a spokesperson for Robinson, said he would not comment until after Griswold's statement is released.

The charge of inappropriate behavior was made by a man in Vermont, accusing Robinson of having touched him inappropriately a few years ago at a church convocation. The allegation was contained in an email received by church leaders late last night. The man, in the email, asks the church to look into his allegations.

The other charge involves a Web site Robinson founded several years ago that counsels gay and lesbian youths that allegedly contains a link to a Web site with erotic photographs.

Robinson told CNN Monday afternoon that he has had no connection with the Web site for several years.

Robinson's confirmation process has been the center of a heated but "mannerly" debate by church members. The conservative element of the faith has warned that if Robinson is made a bishop the Church will be split by a schism. Conservative branches of the Anglican Church elsewhere in the world have also told the Episcopalians that they are prepared to withdraw recognition of the American church.

Today's vote by the House of Bishops was to be the final step in proclaiming Robinson a bishop. Sunday, the House of Deputies, or lower house of the church administration which is made up of clergy and lay people, voted two-to-one to confirm him. (story) Robinson's diocese in New Hampshire had already selected him as bishop in June.

Monday afternoon church leaders were trying to track down the writer of the email to determine whether it was legitimate and why the allegations had not been made earlier.

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