We’ve received a number of questions and comments about the Title IV accord reached in the Douglas Anderson case. Anderson serves as the rector of the Church of the Advent, an Anglo-Catholic parish in Boston. This post addresses some of the loose ends in this matter.
- A Title IV accord can be entered into at any time, at any stage of the Title IV process.
- Bases for an accord comprise: agreement for discipline under Canon IV.9, conciliation under Canon IV.10 or a Conference Panel proceeding under Canon IV.12.
- An accord is not an adjudication. Thus, in the Anderson case, no decision has been made on the allegations of sexual harassment, lying to a previous Title IV panel, or any other actual or potential claim of canonical violations.
- An accord is, however, preclusive as to allegations raised in the original complaint. (Canon IV.19.13). In other words, the accord is a plea bargain that shuts down the serious allegations against Anderson and prevents them being re-opened, even as he admits to the relatively low-level offense of “conduct unbecoming.”
- Although the accord is preclusive as to issues raised by this complainant, it has no effect should other women come forward with similar complaints.
- We are aware of other women who have made allegations similar to those raised by the woman in the Anderson case. Anglican Watch has been told that these women fear coming forward.
- We have closely reviewed the conduct of Gates and the diocese in this matter and conclude that these other women did not file Title IV claims due to the diocese’s dismal handling of the matter, along with the burdensome nature of the Title IV process.
- Accords may include any terms that “promote healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among the Complainant, Respondent, affected Community and other persons;” (Canon IV.13.14.1).
- It is unusual when, as here, a vestry proposes a particular path forward, as vestries typically have limited access to information before a matter reaches the hearing stage phase. Additionally, there is an inherent conflict of interest for vestries.
- As correctly noted in the wardens’ letter, the date of Anderson’s departure aligns perfectly with the day he vests his retirement.
- While Anderson is generously provided for under the accord, including get paid for two years for doing nothing, and being free to take a parish the instant his retirement vests, we see nothing being done for Advent or the alleged victims.
- An accord requires the approval of the bishop. Thus, Gates is personally responsible.
Bottom line: The Anderson accord is appalling, contrary to even the most basic notion of Christianity, disrespectful to women and the hostility and abuse they often experience in employment and faith communities, and reflects contempt for the Advent community.
And, lest anyone raise the vestry’s role in the accord, or lack thereof, any ethical warden or vestry member should be raising holy hell with the diocese. This is one of the most appalling, scandalous, outrageous outcomes we have ever seen in a Title IV case.