According to court paperwork, Henault offered the boy marijuana, and allegedly used spiritual beliefs to convince him posing for nude photos would check his aura and molesting him would release his chakra.
A Vermont deacon has been arrested by police for child abuse, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Ely reports. In a statement released last month on his blog, Bishop Ely confirmed the Rev. Armand Henault had been arrested by police in St Johnsbury on charges of sexually assaulting a child, “promoting recording of sexual conduct, contributing to juvenile delinquency and three counts of enabling consumption of alcohol by a minor.”
Henault was arraigned on 6 June 2016 and pled not guilty to the charge. He is currently awaiting trial and is under house arrest.
Bishop Ely stated Henault had been ordained a deacon in the diocese in 2009 and served as a deacon at St Andrew’s in St Johnsbury. He also held secular employment as a licensed family and child therapist. However Henault had been suspended from the ministry of the Episcopal Church for the last three years, Bishop Ely reported.
Bishop Ely told WCAX news concerns about Henault arose in 2012 following “an incident of his being in a hot tub with a minor. We just thought that was pretty poor judgment.” The bishop said the diocese, state police and the Department for Children and Families investigated the incident, but no evidence of a crime was uncovered. However, Henault was directed by the bishop to take child sex abuse prevention training classes.
In 2013 a second complaint was lodged against Henault in response to an incident with a child in Massachusetts, the bishop said. On 9 May 2013 the diocese suspended Henault and passed their files on to the Massachusetts state police, however he was not charged.
In his statement to the diocese last month, the bishop added that when Henault was “placed on administrative leave in 2013, Henault’s ministry and authority to function as a deacon were suspended until such time as various requirements placed upon him by my Pastoral Direction are met. He has never met those requirements, and since then he has continuously been prohibited from functioning as a deacon, or in any other official capacity as a member of the clergy of the Episcopal Church, or on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont.”
Local news reports state the alleged victim in the latest complaint was a client whom Henault counseled. According to court paperwork, Henault offered the boy marijuana, and allegedly used spiritual beliefs to convince him posing for nude photos would check his aura and molesting him would release his chakra. According to WCAX, the victim told police, “I was pretty young and dumb… I trusted Armand like 100 percent.”
Bishop Ely told the diocese: “As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to create an environment which affirms the dignity and worth of every person as lovingly created in the image of God. It is our responsibility to denounce oppression in all forms, including sexual abuse, exploitation or harassment and make our church a safe place for the most vulnerable among us.”
“We take allegations of misconduct very seriously, which includes making reports to the appropriate authorities when child abuse and sexual misconduct is suspected and cooperating with ongoing investigations. All clergy and lay employees of the church are required to complete the ‘Safe Church’ educational training program,” he said.