California rector suspended after audit reveals $125,000 in parish funds missing

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The Episcopal Diocese of California has placed the rector of Trinity Church in Menlo Park on administrative leave after he admitted misusing church funds.

The Matthew Dutton-Gillett, rector at Trinity Church, is alleged to have taken approximately $125,000 in church funds over the past five years for personal use. The defalcatioun was discovered following a financial review by parish leaders. The diocese reported Mr. Dutton-Gillett, who has led the parish since 2009, admitted misusing the funds to the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California. The rector has been suspended from office by the bishop and will face canonical and criminal charges of misconduct and theft.

In a letter to the congregation, the wardens and vestry wrote:

“Our life together depends on trust, and in some measure, on parishioners’ generosity, and it is deeply disappointing when this trust and generosity are not honored, but abused.”

“However, we believe that the increased financial scrutiny which helped bring this misuse of our funds to light will also help ensure the security of your contributions to our common life now and in the future. To that end we are in the process of reviewing existing financial procedures and controls and instituting new ones,” they wrote, noting the theft is not expected to imperil the church’s operations.