California rector suspended from the ministry for four years for theft

The Episcopal Diocese of California has suspended the rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Menlo Park from the ministry for four years after a forensic audit included he had diverted over $200,000 of parish funds for his own use.

Mr. Dutton-Gillet was placed on administrative leave in April after an internal audit found approximately $125,000 had been misappropriated from the parish accounts over the past five years. On 4 Sept 2020 Mr. Dutton-Gillet was dismissed as rector after an external audit document identified over $200,000 missing from the parish accounts.

The former rector accepted an agreement for discipline of a suspension of four years from the ordained ministry, handed down by the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus. Mr. Dutton-Gillet must repay the stoen funds and may not contact members of the parish or visit the property.  At the end of the four years, the bishop will review Mr. Dutton-Gillet’s actions and take further disciplinary steps if necessary, a letter to the parish from parish leaders said.

Church officials said they filed a report with Menlo Park police, who are conducting a criminal investigation. The former rector has also repaid $52,000, the letter said.

Mr. Dutton-Gillet trained for the ministry at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts and served as curate at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Detroit in 1991. He became a priest in 1992 at St. Peter’s Church in Ladue, Missouri and served parishes in Illinois and Tennessee before becoming rector of Trinity Menlo Park in 2009.

In a letter to the congregation written in April after his suspension, 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.

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