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Rector Suspended for Sex With Parishioners

April 12, 1995|JOHN DART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CANOGA PARK — The rector of an Episcopal parish has been suspended for four years after admitting to his bishop that he engaged in sexual misconduct with women parishioners, an official of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles said Tuesday.

The Rev. James A. Maronde, 45, left the pulpit at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in February after written complaints from four people were received by Bishop Frederick H. Borsch in January, according to the Rev. Canon Anne Sutherland Howard, a high-ranking aide to the bishop.

"The complaints involved sexual misconduct with adult women parishioners" during the 10 years Maronde was rector, the Episcopal equivalent of pastor, at the parish of 143 households, Howard said in an interview.

A document signed by Maronde, who is married, admitted to "misusing the pastoral office and sexual conduct," Howard said.

Maronde was not immediately available for comment.

However, his wife, Eileen, told a reporter: "The whole situation is sorrowful and painful. We are working this out in therapy and I've forgiven him for any misdeeds."

Howard said Maronde waived his right to an ecclesiastical trial and submitted himself to the discipline of the church. "There have been no civil or criminal suits filed that I know of," she said.

Howard quoted from a letter to priests of the diocese from Borsch: "The suspension may be lifted after the four years if conditions involving therapy and evaluation specified by the diocesan bishop (Borsch) . . . are met."

A brief notice of the suspension was printed in the St. Martin's parish bulletin this week and in the diocesan newspaper, Episcopal News.

A spokesman for the parish, Will Pirone, did not respond immediately to a message requesting comment.

Because the church, at 7136 Winnetka Ave., also has a day school, Howard said parents were assured that the priest's admitted conduct involved only adult women and no minors.

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