TEXAS: Former chaplain accused of sexual misconduct

July 12, 2007

The Rev James L. Tucker, a retired Episcopal priest, is accused of sexual misconduct with a minor while he was chaplain at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin from 1960-1968.

The office of Episcopal Diocese of Texas Bishop Don Wimberly received an independent report as a result of interviews with alleged victims, and Wimberly found that the charges to have substance. He placed the matter before the Standing Committee and has reported the incidents to the Travis County District Attorney.

"It is indeed a sad day for the Church in the Diocese of Texas. I am heartbroken for the victims, for the St. Stephen's community and for the Tucker family," said Wimberly.
"While some people are upset that we would speak of an incident more than four decades old, we are committed to a process that will help identify other victims and help those who were harmed begin to heal."

The diocese, in cooperation with the board of St. Stephen's, had planned to notify former students of the school about the allegations against Tucker following graduation the last weekend of May, but did so earlier than planned when inaccurate rumors began to circulate. The letters, to alumni during Tucker's tenure, and to current families, were intended to provide the facts of the situation as they are known and to locate other victims.

"We have policies in place today that we did not have in 1968 and I believe it is our obligation to shine a light onto a situation that has been utterly buried for years. It is extremely important that the victims be heard and that they receive our apology," Wimberly said.

Tucker left St. Stephen's in 1968 following a complaint lodged by one of the victims to then-Head of School Allen Becker. Tucker served at St. James Episcopal Church, Houston, from 1970 until his retirement in 1992. The diocese has notified church leaders and members of the congregation of St. James about the allegations as well.

"Jesus gave voice to the voiceless, empowered the weak and healed those who suffered. The church's mission is to do the same," said Wimberly.

"Our priority is the safety and care of the children and students entrusted to us in every age and to that end, the diocese will be as transparent as possible as we make this unhappy journey, knowing there will be healing, transformation and the hope of reconciliation for us all. Please pray for the victims, the school community and the Tucker family," he concluded.

The full text of Wimberly's letter is available here.

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