Earlier we reported on the Title IV case in the Diocese of CT involving Amjad Samuel. There has been a spate of recent hearing panel filings, which we have reviewed. And true to form, canon lawyer Michael Rehill’s pleadings are annoying, disingenuous, and inaccurate.
For example, Rehill objects that the matter was not sent for investigation. But he well knows that investigation is not required by canon; the Title IV reference panel can choose from the following:
- Take no action other than appropriate pastoral responses
- Refer the matter to Conciliation
- Refer the matter to the Investigator for further investigation and report back to the Reference Panel
- Refer the matter to the Conference Panel
- Referral to the Bishop for possible negotiation of an Agreement for Discipline
Similarly, Rehill’s comments about the Rev. Canon Robin Hammeal-Urban are offensive. Not only do we know Hammeal-Urban, but none of Rehill’s allegations, even if accurate, are prejudicial. Moreover, the bishop is entitled to delegate matters to staff, particularly when, as in Hammeal-Urban’s case, they have specialized expertise.
Rehill also makes much of the fact that early in the process the diocese proffered a draft accord. That actually was a positive move, as it would have avoided the adverse publicity that Samuel now garners. And our observation is that clergy who play games and deny everything invariably wind up worse off than those who collaborate and seek a positive resolution.
Then we have the issue of some of Rehill’s inflammatory comments, notably his suggestion that Hammeal-Urban and the bishop may be mentally ill. That remark was stupid and unhelpful, and may constitute defamation by implication.
As to Rehill’s bit about race, we have yet to see an Episcopal parish that wasn’t racist on some level. If nothing else, parishes love to prattle on about ending structural racism, but they would never dream of actually providing transportation to help those of limited means attend church. And Title IV is about Samuel’s alleged violations of Title IV, not about the misconduct of laity. So Rehill can spare us the sketchy race-baiting.
Bottom line, Rehill’s dilatory pleadings and knowing misstatements of canon law are at best ethically questionable and do his client no favors. And we are glad the Connecticut is taking spiritual abuse seriously. Far too many dioceses adhere to a no-blood, no-foul approach to clergy discipline.
Those who want to read the various hearing panel documents in their entirety can find them here.