Coote case closed

The Diocese of The Murray has revoked the license of its former archdeacon for abuse

The Diocese of The Murray has revoked the license of its former archdeacon the Ven. Peter Coote for abuse, following ten years of litigation culminating in a review of the Anglican Church of Australia’s disciplinary canons by the Supreme Court of South Australia. In a statement released last week, the Rt. Rev. John Ford, Bishop of The Murray (pictured) wrote the matter was now closed. “I would like to assure everyone who has been affected by inappropriate or wicked behaviour by any minister of the church, it’s just totally unacceptable.” In 2004 Coote was accused of sexual misconduct. An investigation by the diocese’s Professionals Standards Committee found the allegations to be credible leading to his suspension. The ruling was upheld by the national church’s Professional Standards Board, but a second appeal questioned the legality of the proceedings. The dispute passed to the civil courts and on 23 December 2013 the South Australia Supreme Court held disciplinary canons were a “consensual contract” between clergy and the church, and that the Australian Church’s Professional Standards Board had the authority to investigate and discipline clergy. Chief Justice Chris Kourakis held that having voluntarily agreed to submit to the constitution and canons of the church, Archdeacon Coote could not seek to circumvent the process through the secular courts.

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