NEW YORK: Leading Orthodox Priest Charged with Sexual Exploitation, Alcohol Abuse
By David W. Virtue www.virtueonline.org
Thepriest of St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, the Rev. Andrew Mead, rector ofthe flagship parish in the Diocese of New York, has been charged with alaundry list of abuses and accusations by twelve persons including aformer priest, deacon and 10 lay people.
The charges includealcohol abuse, engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct, plots tooverthrow the priest, and Fr. Mead's charges of homosexual activity ata former priest of the parish the Rev. Harry Krauss.
Fr. Meadhas been charged under Canon IV.3.23(a)(2) for "conduct unbecoming amember of the Clergy." The charges were sent to the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk,Bishop of New York by Michael Rehill, for review by the Diocesan ReviewCommittee of the Diocese of NY. Rehill is the former Newark DiocesanChancellor, who is also involved in a lawsuit to unseat Charles E.Bennison, Bishop of Pennsylvania.
The 8-page document sent to VirtueOnline lists the following accusations against Fr. Mead:
*The Rev. Andrew Mead continuously abuses alcohol and as a result hasrepeatedly engaged in conduct inappropriate for a priest, includingengaging in sexually inappropriate conduct.
Specifically thecomplaint charges that at the annual lay reader dinner at St. Thomas'he hugged a certain Mr. Getzel "for an excessively long period of timewhile grabbing his buttocks."
In December 2005, at the staffChristmas Party in the Parish House, Fr. Mead dressed as Santa Clausand sat in a wing back chair. He then insisted that the femaleemployees sit on his lap to receive their "presents".
* Fr. Mead engaged in financial improprieties including the following:
Withoutknowledge or consent of the Vestry, Fr. Mead routinely has all hisgroceries, including cat litter for his cats, as well as largequantities of alcohol, delivered to the church and billed to the parishas part of the Church Kitchen Budget. "These expenditures were notincluded in Fr. Mead's reported income from St. Thomas and are therebyunlawfully omitted from his state and federal tax returns," said thecharges.
While the staff of St. Thomas were required to sign aconflict of interest form, including Fr. Mead which says vendors wouldnot employ relations of theirs, Fr. Mead made an arrangement that onlyone florist could service St. Thomas Church. That florist employed Fr.Mead's wife. When people raised questions about the price of theflowers, Fr. Mead accused them of being disloyal or attacking his wife.In the summer, potted orchids were placed on the side altars, and thechurch was charged each week for the same orchids.
Fr. Mead andhis wife spent the choristers' travel money to fly First Class to Paristo fire the headmaster of the Choir School who was vacationing there.
* Mead frequently engaged in misconduct regarding the staff and parishioners at St. Thomas including the following:
OnDecember 1998, a parishioner, Barbara Vaughn Davis, was taken into theVesting Room by Mead during a coffee hour, because she allegedlyoffended Mrs. Mead. Ms. Davis told Fr. Mead that she had never beenspoken to by a minister that way, and threatened to go out to thecoffee hour and tell everyone what he was doing. Fr. Mead apologizedfor his tone but insisted that Ms. Davis make up with his wife bytaking her to lunch.
Ushers were expected to keep Mrs. Mead'sfavorite seat for her. When the ushers refused, Fr. Mead had it ropedoff and a brass plaque "Rector's Pew" affixed to the pew. When Mrs.Mead is not in church no one sits there. When a vestryman took issuewith this, he was taken to the rectory where Fr. Mead and his wife weptin his presence.
On December 1998 Fr. Mead fired Fr. DavidSellery for his "disloyalty" because he left the Rectory Christmasparty to go to a parishioner's annual Christmas party. When the wardenssaid this would look bad for the parish, Fr. Mead gave Fr. Sellery sixmonths to find another position.
Fr. Mead said Fr. Bodie had tosign a termination agreement which included a waiver of the right toseek legal redress for past, present, or future harm inflicted by Fr.Mead or St. Thomas or Fr. Bodies' health insurance would be terminatedimmediately. This would affect the Bodies' youngest son Miles frombeing insured in the future because of his battle with Leukemia. Underthat threat Fr. Bodie signed the agreement.
Fr. Mead used theparish security officer, Robert Gianetta, a former New York City PoliceOfficer, to intimidate parishioners and staff.
Specifically, aparishioner Melissa Gobbs allegedly sat too close to Mrs. Mead and wasescorted from the church by the security officer. She was subsequentlyremoved from her role as Choir Mother.
On October 5, CanonKrauss and two other persons received phone messages from Fr. Meadsaying that he had had too much to drink, but that he needed to talkwith them. Both returned the call but Fr. Mead then denied making it.
Ata Christmas party Giannetta told Canon Krauss that he had to be carefulnot to violate his agreement and that Mrs. Mead had heard that he wasslandering Fr. Mead. Gianetta also phoned John Metcalf, Canon Krauss'partner to warn him that Canon Krauss should not hurt Fr. Mead.
Fr.Mead launched an investigation through Giannetta to falsely bringfederal charges of mail fraud against Fr. Bodie because Fr. Bodie wasattempting to enlist a Mark "Kip" Hakala in the case.
One of theworst charges is that on June 2004, Canon Krauss was called into Fr.Mead's office where he was accused of disloyalty. Mead had madederogatory comments about Fr. Krauss' homosexuality as early as 1998.Those comments were made at meetings of the clergy as well as in theVesting Room. After his dismissal Fr. Mead very openly and negativelydiscussed Fr. Krauss at coffee-hour and other church functions and Fr.Mead made numerous additional derogatory comments relating to canonKrauss' homosexuality. On August 2, 2004 Fr. Mead fired Canon Krauss.
VOLcalled Krauss at the Cathedral in Providence, Rhode Island where he isActing Dean and asked him about the charges. Krauss refused comment. Hedid say that he had the full support of his Bishop, the Rt. Rev.Geralyn Wolfe.
Fr. Mead told Fr. Bodie that he was either awilling or unwitting part of canon Krauss' plot to over throw Fr. Meadand become rector. Fr. Bodie said he did not believe canon Krauss everhad any such intention, but that the relationship between him and Fr.Mead has been severely damaged over the years.
The followingpersons signed the charges against Fr. Mead: The Rev. Park Bodie, Mrs.Suzanne Bodie, Mark "Kip" Hakala, Mrs. Jessica Getzel, (communicant)Tyson Halsey (communicant), Bruce Gilardi (communicant), Bradford Agri(communicant) Mariana Hoppin (communicant), Marilyn Heineman(communicant), Hamilton Forster (communicant), Elizabeth Forster,(communicant), David Verchere (communicant)
But a source toldVOL that the charges brought against Fr, Mead, who is orthodox, werebrought by former clergy of St. Thomas, "all of them with homosexualtendencies".
"Fr. Bodie is an Affirming Catholic leaderpromoting homosexuality as something good. Canon Krauss was let go bySt. Thomas when his homosexual activities became a near scandalousmatter," he wrote.
The source said that the vestry supported Fr. Mead "100 percent" and has made it clear that all the charges are a "fabrication."
Thesource also said that several parishioners of St. Mary the Virgin inNYC (a well known gay bastion) have joined St. Thomas in the lastcouple of years. "This entire picture [to get rid of Fr. Mead] is aneffort being made by sodomites against the rector of St. Thomas."
VOLcalled and e-mailed attorney Michael Rehill seeking comment on thecomplaint. There was no response. Fr. Mead did not return a call to VOL.
for a listing of alternate locations.