DENVER (KDVR) — A child sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed against the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and a former priest.
According to the announcement on Friday, “the victim, identified as John HA Doe, was allegedly sexually abused by Rev. Jerry McKenzie, a former priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado.”
The alleged abuse started in 1995 when the victim was 16 years old. “The abuse lasted for several years and took place at St. Michael and All Angels Church, Camp Ilium and a cabin near Nederland,” the release said.
“According to the allegations, McKenzie plied the boy and his friends with alcohol and other substances as part of the abuse,” the release states.
The lawsuit states that McKenzie was “believed to have been removed from ministry in 2001 following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.”
The victim, from Denver, said, “I filed this lawsuit because the Diocese needs to be held accountable for what happened to me, and also for the others that McKenzie wronged during the course of his career as a trusted and revered religious figure. The adults who should have been protecting all of us failed us, and justice needs to be served for all of us.”
The full lawsuit was announced during a news conference by attorneys Jessica Arbour and Zach Elsner. You can watch it on FOX31 NOW in the player above. The diocese released the following statement to FOX31, which can be read in full below.
The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado received notice that a complaint was filed by a former member of the church, alleging misconduct by a former priest, Jerry McKenzie. These events appeared to have occurred in the mid-1990s. Mr. McKenzie was forced to resign his ministry many years ago, in 2000, following allegations of sexual misconduct. The allegations of the plaintiff in this case were not brought forward to the diocese at that time, and the diocese only learned of these allegations relatively recently.
The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado has taken measures to investigate each allegation of abuse against its clergy. In our tradition and expression of Christianity, we recognize that clergy members have a sacred position of trust. Reports of clergy misconduct and abuse are adjudicated according to the Episcopal Church’s Title IV process, and the diocese cooperates fully with all law enforcement investigations of clergy abuse.
It remains our view that by virtue of Baptism, all members of the Church are called to holiness of life and accountability to one another. The Church and each Diocese supports their members in their life in Christ and seek to resolve conflicts by promoting healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life, and reconciliation among all involved or affected. The Episcopal Church’s Title IV process applies to Members of the Clergy, who have by their vows at ordination accepted additional responsibilities and accountability for doctrine, discipline, worship, and obedience. For many years, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado has required all clergy and lay leaders in our diocese to undergo safe church training using a churchwide curriculum that includes the Episcopal Church’s model policies to protect children, youth, and vulnerable adults.
Due to the personal nature of these allegations, and the fact a lawsuit is now filed by an individual who wishes to remain anonymous, we cannot comment further. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those individuals who have been affected by the harm caused by any clergy member who has betrayed that trust to the religious community.Canon Mike Orr, Episcopal Diocese of Colorado