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Episcopal Leader Resigns Over Sexual Allegations : Religion: Diocese says the Rev. Jon Hart Olson confirmed key allegations of misconduct with a parishioner.

TIMES RELIGION WRITER

The Rev. Jon Hart Olson, former dean of the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese’s theological school in Claremont, has resigned as rector of Christ Church in Ontario after allegations of sexual misconduct with an adult parishioner.

The theological school, known as Bloy House, said Tuesday that Olson, 57, also resigned his teaching position last week. He had retained that job after retiring as dean last year.

Diocesan officials said the allegations of sexual misconduct have been under investigation for several weeks. The diocese also said that Olson, who is not married, confirmed important aspects of the allegations. He has been rector of the parish for about 20 years.

In a letter to diocesan clergy, the Rt. Rev. Frederick H. Borsch, bishop of the six-county Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese, said that after Olson’s request to resign as rector he forbade Olson to exercise any priestly duties pending final adjudication of the case.

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“Jon has confirmed to us and in writing important aspects of the matter,” Borsch wrote to his clergy. “As we know, such complaints must be taken seriously by the church.” Olson could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

In response to an inquiry from The Times, Borsch said Tuesday, “I am very fond of Jon. I have great respect for him, but I have to take these matters seriously to make the church a safe place.”

Although Episcopal canon law provides for an ecclesiastical trial, such courts are rare, according to the Rev. Canon Anne Howard, the bishop’s chief of staff. The accused clergy member may waive the right to such a trial. If the allegations are upheld, the bishop has the discretion to take a wide range of actions, including suspension from priestly duties for a specific period of time while the offender is undergoing psychological evaluation, or removal from the priesthood.

Howard emphasized that the charges were investigated in accordance with diocesan guidelines.

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Olson was honored last year when Borsch named him canon theologian of the Episcopal Diocese. When Olson retired last year as dean of Bloy House, he was widely applauded for bringing full accreditation to the school.


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