Montana Episcopal bishop accused of past affair agrees to step down

Posted: Friday, March 09, 2001

HELENA (AP) -- Montana Episcopal Church Bishop Charles I. Jones III has agreed to resign after a church court ordered him defrocked for an affair he had years ago with a parishioner in Kentucky.

The Montana Diocese's Standing Committee and Diocesan Council agreed to give Jones a $170,000 settlement in return for his resignation. Jones also agreed not to sue the Diocese of Montana, its members or groups and individuals associated with it.

Jones, 57, has presided over Montana's 48 Episcopal churches since 1986. He has been on ''emergency leave'' since Feb. 10.

''Everyone involved said Bishop Jones' resignation was best for everyone involved,'' said Jim Hunt, a Diocesan Council member. ''Ultimately, it was an amicable parting.''

A national Episcopal Church court ordered Jones defrocked on Feb. 15 for immorality and conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy because of charges that he sexually exploited a married parishioner he was counseling nearly 20 years ago in Kentucky. The national court could reinstate Jones to another bishop's job after he meets certain requirements.



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