Episcopal priest Will Bouvel sued for bogus protective order claim

Will Bouvel

David Duggan, a retired Chicago attorney and member of the Episcopal Church, has filed suit (docket 2024L001036) in the Circuit Court of Cook County, IL, against Episcopal priest Will Bouvel. The filing follows repeated unsuccessful efforts by Duggan to obtain relief via the Title IV clergy disciplinary process.

In his pleadings, Duggan alleges that Bouvel knowingly filed a malicious and false request for a protective order against him and included various fabrications in his request.

Duggan prevailed on appeal but expended tens of thousands of dollars in the case, which he seeks to recoup.

Anglican Watch has previously covered this situation, which arose after Duggan sent a confidential letter to bishop Chilton Knudsen opposing Bouvel’s ordination on the basis that Bouvel is openly gay and married to another male.

Our investigation of the matter resulted in the following conclusions:

  • Bouvel knew or had reason to know that his pleadings in the request for a protective order were false.
  • Duggan sent his correspondence to bishop Chilton Knudsen with the expectation that Knudsen would treat it as confidential.
  • Knudsen and other diocesan officials conspired with Bouvel in the matter, both before and after the fact. Specifically, they attempted to take responsibility for Bouvel’s pleadings. Thus, we believe the diocesan chancellor should face attorney discipline for permitting the filing of a non-meritorious claim. Similarly, Chilton Knudsen knew or had reason to know that Bouvel’s pleadings were fabrications and should face clergy discipline.
  • In her role as chair of the Disciplinary Committee for Bishops, Knudsen is inherently biased.
  • Instead of focusing on the stated Title IV goals of resolution, reconciliation, and healing, local church officials have sought to dismiss Duggan’s complaints without action.
  • The church has consistently conflated the pastoral response required under Title IV with pastoral care. Although the latter may be part of the former, the requirement far surpasses a clergyperson sitting and listening and asking, “Is that so?”.
  • By not providing the requisite pastoral response, the Diocese and current bishop Paula Clark violate Title IV.
  • Bovel’s real motivation in filing for a protective order was to chill Duggan’s First Amendment rights.
  • Per Title IV, by virtue of their vows at ordination, clergy are held to a higher standard. Thus, the argument that Bouvel is innocent because he didn’t know that you can’t get a protective order against someone for objecting to your ordination is facially objectionable.
  • This is not the first time abusive clergy have abused the protective order system to try to suppress criticism and found backing from corrupt diocesan officials. We are specifically mindful of Bob Malm’s perjury, which to this day has enjoyed the full support of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and bishops Shannon Johnston and Susan Goff.
  • While challenging to prosecute, making false statements under oath is a criminal violation. Clergy who engage in criminal conduct should, without exception, be defrocked. After all, clergy who engage in adulterous affairs typically are removed from office, and adultery is legal if between consenting adults.

While this publication supports same-sex marriage, we also support the right of persons with views different from ours to participate fully in the life of the church. Moreover, the church cannot survive if it continues to abuse the protective order system to shield itself from criticism.

Anglican Watch believes Bouvel and his enablers should be defrocked. And while we have little hope this will happen, we caution others: Past performance is, contrary to what the SEC says, a reliable predictor of future performance. A priest who lies about one church member is highly likely to lie again.

Thus, Bouvel and any parish or organization that hires him should be avoided, regardless of one’s views on marriage equality.

In other words, if the denomination relies on lies and criminal conduct to ensure inclusion, no thanks–it can keep it.


  1. Actually, I prevailed at the Circuit Court after a “substitution of judge,” allowed under Illinois procedural law to counter the prospect of a judge’s actual bias against a litigant as was apparent here as the judge to whom the case was originally assigned had plainly read neither the submissions nor the First Amendment in issuing the “no stalking order of protection.” Whether this original judge, who also pursues an alternative lifestyle, was shopped for (Bouvel waited a day after the last of the events alleged in his hand-written petition to file it) probably cannot be determined, but the inference is there as Bouvel testified that he “was advised … that [he] also pursue a protective order,” and that, as to whether the police had been contacted, he testified that “It’s been done on my behalf.” The Diocese and the parish have their fingerprints all over this sordid affair.
    As regards the appeal, the original judge dithered in deciding whether 1) to grant the “SOJ” motion (which is an automatic); and 2) to dismiss the petition because it was legally insufficient which she had to decide within 10 days. That gave the right to an immediate appeal, which after Bouvel’s motion to dismiss the appeal had been denied, a different panel granted the motion because the motion to dismiss, though filed, had not been properly noticed (which was false). The inference was that this panel did not want to rebuke the original judge who had so blithely ignored the law. So the case went back to a different judge who, after a thorough review of the record, including the First Amendment protected writings which Bouvel had appended to his petition, granted the motion to dismiss (as legally insufficient) and vacated the order. Bouvel did not replead his case. This Kafka-esque ordeal cost me north of $85,000 which I am seeking to recover. The disciplinary authorities of both the diocese and the national church have been utterly feckless in ruling on my Title IV complaints.

  2. Given Bouvel’s claims to be a “distinguished” member of the clergy in his social media and his seeming efforts to position himself for greater things, hopefully anyone reading this will think long and hard before hiring him. The phrase that comes to mind is “abuse of power.”

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