Central PA bishop deposes priest named in New England prep school abuse case

Former St George’s School chaplain Howard White defrocked

Bishop Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania yesterday removed the Rev. Howard White from the priesthood.

White, 75, was among several adults who sexually abused students at St. George’s School in Middleton, Rhode Island in the 1970s and 80s, according to a report released recently by independent investigators on behalf of the school.

In the wake of media reports about sexual abuse at St. George’s, several people from other Episcopal dioceses in which White had worked said that he sexually abused them when they were young.

“We are committed to keeping God’s children safe, and we are heartbroken when we fail,” Scanlan said. “My hope is that the appalling events documented at St. George’s School will lead our church to intensify its efforts to protect young people in every setting, and continue our commitment to preventing abuse with thorough training for clergy, staff and volunteers who work with children.”

White accepted the notice that he is no longer a priest, which the church refers to as a “deposition,” but did not admit guilt. Scanlan had placed him on leave in January when the allegations first surfaced, and prohibited him from functioning as a priest or being alone with minors. White retired in 2006, but was serving as a supply, or “Sunday only,” priest on weekends at St. James Episcopal Church in Bedford.

Scanlan met Monday evening with members of the parish to inform them of her decision and to offer pastoral care to the parish. “I assured them that my staff and I would accompany them in this difficult time,” she said.

No allegations of abuse have been lodged against White during his time in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, but as a priest in that diocese, he has been under Scanlan’s authority since she became bishop in September 2015.

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