Wednesday, December 18, 2002

From the NYTimes, a long article about the NY Presbyterian minister accused of abuse

So began a hushed investigation last February that exploded this month into a public litany of sexual abuse allegations leveled against one of Westchester County's best-known ministers. Eight men told the Presbytery that during the 1970's and 80's, when they were teenagers, Mr. Miller initiated oral-genital contact with some, masturbated in front of others, took nude photographs of one and exposed himself to all eight. The Presbytery read these charges publicly at a regional meeting in Middletown on Dec. 3, and the next night they were read again to the Mount Kisco congregation. In both cases, the identities of Mr. Miller's accusers were not revealed. Three of those men agreed to interviews on the condition that their names be withheld.

Once Mr. Miller was apprised of the findings and warned that the Presbytery would seek a church trial, he resigned, voluntarily renouncing his jurisdiction, which means that he is no longer an ordained minister and can never be a pastor again. He then sent a letter to the Mount Kisco congregation saying that in his longtime struggle to accept himself as a gay man, he had done "things that were wrong and inappropriate to my position as a minister." He said he would "carry the burden of this wrongdoing for the rest of my life."

Among the most troubling aspects of the case to many in the town is the suggestion that numerous people were aware of Mr. Miller's inappropriate interest in teenage boys. Some said that they had been told to quash ugly talk that was circulating about the popular pastor. Others said that they had heard youths snickering about Mr. Miller but had decided to ignore the remarks. Doug Phillips, associate pastor at the church under Mr. Miller, said parents had twice complained to him during the mid-1980's about the minister's use of "inappropriate language" around their children. He was concerned, he said, but met with Mr. Miller and thought the issue had been resolved.

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