Montana Episcopal bishop faces trial on sex charges

Posted: Friday, April 28, 2000

HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Bishop Charles I. Jones, 56, leader of the Episcopal Church in Montana, will go before a church tribunal in September on charges of immoral conduct with a woman parishioner in Kentucky in the 1980s.

Jones has denied the charges listed in a church indictment.

If convicted by a court of seven fellow bishops, who will assemble in Minneapolis, Jones could be reprimanded, suspended temporarily or deposed.

The charges were filed in February 1999 but kept confidential. Copies circulated in some churches and were reported by the state's Lee Newspapers. The indictment says Jones, a married priest then serving in Russellville, Ky., had an affair of several years with the parish housekeeper, a married woman.

Thomas Dooling, a former lawyer who is now a priest in Dillin, Mont., sought dismissal of the case. He issued a statement on Jones' behalf saying the charges were resolved in 1994 by a ''disciplinary agreement'' among Jones, the Montana diocese and the then national leader of the Episcopal Church, Edmond Browning. A diocesan convention voted to retain Jones as bishop, he said.

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