Anglican Watch

Why Todd Ousley needs to be fired for clergy discipline of Episcopal bishops to actually work

Todd Ousley needs to be fired. Now.

We recently raised a toast to the news that Todd Ousley is losing his role as the intake officer for Title IV clergy disciplinary complaints against bishops. But this is only a partial solution, and Todd Ousley needs to resign as head of the office of pastoral development in order for the Title IV disciplinary process for bishops to actually work.

And no one with integrity should apply to the newly created intake officer position until Todd Ousley leaves.


Ousley is the bishop who heads the Office of Pastoral Development (OPD). As such, he is responsible for issues like diocesan elections, training new bishops, and more. He’s also part of the team that reports to the presiding bishop. He also, per his web page, is the “pastoral point person for and with the Presiding Bishop.”

The new Title IV intake officer position was created after years of frustration with the OPD.

Even before Ousley, the OPD routinely ignored all but the most egregious cases of Title IV. And it consistently ignored the provisions of Title IV. 

For example, the office typically doesn’t respond when a Title IV case is filed. As a result, complainants never learn the case’s outcome, and they cannot file a timely appeal. 

Nor does OPD provide the pastoral response mandated by Title IV in every instance when a complaint is made. That’s right — Ousley et al simply ignore the pastoral response part—even though Ousley is the “pastoral point person.”

For the record, that is pure bullcrud. It’s like showing up at AT&T headquarters, only to discover the place doesn’t have phones. If Ousley is the point person, then we damned well need to see that he actually provides a pastoral response, and to someone in addition to his Episco-bro fellow bishops. Or that he even knows what a pastoral response looks like.

Even worse, Todd Ousley has told Anglican Watch staff that the presiding bishop does not have the authority to tell bishops what to do. And yes, there are witnesses. But more importantly, that runs counter to the express provisions of Title IV. In other words, when Ousley trains new bishops, he’s presumably using the same argument with them, which means he’s full of it. And unethical too.

Nor are these relatively minor cases. Ousley is known to ignore documented cases of child sex abuse. He does not comply with the mandatory reporting laws. And he is famous for saying, “This remains a diocesan matter. Please do not contact me again.”

A prime example is the Whayne Hougland debacle, in which Ousley, true to form, ignored those hurt by Hougland’s extramarital affair. 

But just as TEC rescued Ousley after his diocese in Michigan imploded, Ousley took damned good care of Episco-bro Hougland. This care included raiding diocesan assets to reward Hougland’s misconduct with a golden parachute—and then, dumbass Ousley had the chutzpah to laud his conduct as “living into the highest ideals of our Title IV process.”

As if all this were not enough, we are tracking cases in which Ousley has reneged on promises made, turned a blind eye to racist behavior, retaliation by bishops, and more. 

In other words, Todd Ousley and the OPD are among the worst offenders when it comes to honoring church canons. And Ousley and OPD have zero integrity. As such, they lead by negative example and incentivize bishops diocesan to ignore church canons.

So why is Ousley such a dirtbag?

That begs the question: Why is Ousley such a dirtbag?

Some of it undoubtedly is the conflict inherent in the presiding bishop’s role. On the one hand, she is a pastor to bishops diocesan.

On the other hand, she is a disciplinarian. 

In the latter role, that also raises the question: What if the bishop responds by trying to secede? Or withhold funds?

These are uncomfortable issues, but they are no different than the conflicts that bishops diocesan experience when dealing with wayward priests. 

In other words, while we recognize that this leads to awkward and stressful issues, Ousley needs to man up. Run with the big boys, deal with big boy issues.

The larger issue, of course, is lack of integrity. Dealing with Title IV cases involves dealing with those hurt by the church. Many times, the damage to victims is lasting, resulting in:

  • PTSD.
  • Depression
  • Anxiety.
  •  Suicidal ideation.
  • Departure from the church.
  • Renunciation of the Christian faith. 

Thus, Title IV is an enormously important issue. Those who handle Title IV complaints deal with the most personal and intimate aspects of human existence. A Title IV case therefore must be handled with utmost integrity, absolute adherence to the provisions of Title IV, and great sensitivity to the potential for human suffering.

It’s also important to recognize that the Office of Presiding Bishop is often the option of last resort when a bishop diocesan refuses to hear a Title IV case or responds with a notice of dismissal without considering the substance of the complaint. 

Yet in these cases, Ousley frames the matter as one of the complainants “not being happy with the outcome.” That, of course, is a logical fallacy–they are unhappy with the underlying procedure, or with being brushed off. As in bishops—Chilton Knudsen, Shannon Johnston, Susan Goff, Alan Gates, George Sumner, Glenda Curry, to name a few—who simply ignore complaints. Or dismiss on the basis that criminal conduct allegedly is “not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.”

But Ousley brushes the matter off as a diocesan matter, thus adding insult to injury and further traumatizing victims of misconduct.

In other words, Ousley doesn’t give a damn about the underlying complaint, the people involved, or the damage to the church or the people who make up the church. He’s got the matter out of his inbox, and beyond that he sees no ethical implications to his behavior.

Simply put, Todd Ousley is morally bankrupt.

Rearranging the Deck Chairs

Into this sordid mess comes Michael Curry, who in true Episcopal fashion tries to split the baby down the middle.

Thus, the announcement for a new Title IV intake officer for Bishops retains many of the problems that exist with the current arrangement. 

For example, the new position continues to report to the presiding bishop, thereby retaining the inherent conflict of interest and potential political pressure from insiders. 

Even worse, the new arrangement will keep morally bankrupt Todd Ousley as head of OPD.

Do people want someone who misrepresents the express language of Title IV in that role? Someone who sets an appalling example for bishops diocesan? Who has no care or concern for those hurt by the church? Who doesn’t give a red rat’s rear end that he’s causing profound harm to the church? Who long ago gave up any claim to moral authority or personal integrity?

And it’s not like Ousley won’t have his grimy little paws in things under the new arrangement. 

Per the job announcement, accountabilities for the new hire will include:

  • Coordinate with Bishop for Pastoral Development all pastoral responses required by canons

  • Recruit and train pastoral response teams in collaboration with the Bishop for Pastoral Development

Given the history of Ousley’s pastoral responses to date, this is like asking the iceberg watch on the Titanic to keep an eye open for icebergs that may be near your ship. Maybe he’s learned his lesson, but it’s not worth the risk.

Relatedly, Ousley has not changed his ways since the dioceses of Michigan cut loose on him at General Convention. He still:

  1. Ignores complaints.
  2. Refuses to honor his commitments.
  3. Provides no pastoral response.
  4. Fails to follow up.
  5. Looks for every opportunity or excuse to protect the Episc-bros.
  6. Is woefully non-compliant with the provisions of Title IV. 

So once bitten, not a bit shy is Ousley’s modus operandi. He clearly has not learned his lesson and shows no sign that he plans to do so.

Some will argue that Ousley is stretched thin, poor guy, and just doesn’t have the resources.

But that’s hogwash. If he can’t do his job with his current resourcing, he needs to have the integrity and backbone to say, “Things need to change,” and recommend specific solutions. That’s how adults function in the real world versus the slice of stained glass paradise that is 815 aka church headquarters. 

(Speaking of, wasn’t that supposed to be sold years ago? Folks, it’s high time to shed the narcissistic vestiges of our claim to be the quasi-state church? That notion died fifty years ago, and neither the UN nor anyone else cares what a bunch of geriatric liberals think about issues. And they care even less once they realize that folks like Ousley talk a good game but turn a blind eye even to child sexual abuse, racism, and retaliation.)

Looking ahead

So, looking ahead, we’re prepared to bet that finding someone for the Title IV intake officer slot will be a tough row to hoe. Church headquarters has been a nest of vipers since the beginning, and it’s only marginally better with Stacy Sauls gone.

On top of that, finding an M.Div with a Ph.D. isn’t easy–even though the job description is looking for those qualifications. And we’re prepared to bet that anyone familiar with Ousley’s track record will say “hell no” in record time. Finally, if nothing else, relying on Ousley to provide a pastoral response is a recipe for failure; Ousley doesn’t swim in those waters, even after his former diocese clobbered him over the Hougland debacle.

So, we urge Michael Curry to clean house. Time to get someone in with a track record of integrity who cares about the church and the people who make up the church and who respects the covenantal nature of church canons. Nor does Ousley enjoy the trust and confidence of church members. He’s nothing but an overpriced, underperforming apologist for ethically compromised bishops. Like Whayne Hougland.

In other words, Todd Ousley is corrupt. Big time.

While we’re on the topic, the appropriate solution is an independent person or organization that reports jointly to General Convention AND the office of presiding bishop. This could be a law firm, an ethics service, an independent attorney, or a contractor. But it should not be another insider who’s into political games.

And if Curry won’t clean house, then the interim bodies need to lower the boom. There is no excuse for Todd Ousley and his wretched mistreatment of laity.

As things stand, the usual Episcopal game of “when in doubt, just hire someone” is a recipe for disaster. And Anglican Watch urges anyone considering the job to think twice before they apply. 

Working with Todd Ousley as your peer and someone who holds the keys to your professional success is a recipe for failure. And anyone who applies runs the risk of guilt by association when they collaborate with someone as spectacularly corrupt as Todd Ousley.

Feel free to quote us.

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