This policy serves to guide and instruct persons in matters related to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. Persons who are related to the Kentucky Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church (hereto referred to as KAC) and its constituent churches and ministries fall under the guidance of this policy. Those persons include clergy (ordained and licensed), diaconal ministers, lay employees, and laity. Guidance is given in this policy for all persons variously affected by sexual harassment or sexual abuse. Incidents of this nature cast people into various roles. These roles include persons who are victims, persons who are called on to help bring resolution and healing. This policy addresses each of these roles of persons.
The following policy is intended to complement and supplement the provisions of The Book of Discipline, 2008 and KAC policies related to complaint procedures. Nothing in the policy may contradict the provisions of the Discipline in matters of clergy/lay conduct and grievance resolution (See Discipline, 2008 ¶ 362 and 2701). In addition to complementing the disciplinary provisions, the policy is meant to provide practical guidance that is not addressed in The Book of Discipline to all parties involved in such cases.
The objective of this policy in combination withe the complaint procedures policy is to provide the kinds of practical guidance that is effective to reach a just resolution as well as the reconciliation and healing of all parties. Even in cases of formal complaint, reasonable efforts will be made to bring healing to the various parties.
Church officials of the Kentucky Annual Conference will be expected to use this policy. Failure to do so may jeopardize the due process of the persons involved. Two fundamental principles are assumed throughout this policy: (1) All allegations and claims of sexual harassment or sexual abuse warrant appropriate response and investigation; and (2) the presumption of innocence shall be maintained until such time as the respondent is determined to be guilty or admits guilt.
A. One of the ongoing tasks of the Christian community is to understand our life theologically. Like other areas of human relationships, human sexuality has potential for expressing love and commitment to God and other persons, and has potential for abuse.
GOVERNANCE - Standing Rules
B. We affirm that:
Sexual Misconduct is an abuse of power. It is defined as "behavior of a sexualized nature that betrays sacred trust, violates the ministerial role, and exploits those who are vulnerable in that relationship. It is absent of meaningful consent."
Meaningful consent assumes that both parties have equal power in the relationship. In a pastoral/counselor relationship, the power is always imbalanced on the side of the pastor/counselor. Therefore, the pastor/counselor is always responsible for keeping the relationship free from sex or sexual innuendo since the difference in roles makes meaningful consent impossible.
Sexual Abuse occurs when a person within a ministerial role of leadership (lay or clergy, pastor, educator, counselor, youth leader, or other position of leadership) "engages in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with a congregant, client, employee, staff member, coworker, or volunteer." (2004 Book of Resolutions, p. 150-151)
Sexualized Behavior is that which "communicates sexual interest and/or content. Examples include, but are not limited to displaying sexually suggestive visual materials; making sexual comments or innuendo about one's own or another person's body; touching another person's body, hair, or clothing; touching or rubbing oneself in the presence of another person; kissing; and sexual intercourse." (2004 Book of Resolutions, p. 151)
Sexual Harassment is defined as "any behavior that intimidates, demeans, humiliates, or coerces. These behaviors range from the subtle forms that can accumulate into a hostile working, learning, or worshipping environment to the most severe forms of stalking, assault, or rape." (2004 Book of Resolutions, p. 151)
GOVERNANCE - Policies
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines deal clearly with sexual harassment:
"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
A. Inform the person.
B. Report the behavior to your immediate supervisor, unless the person is your supervisor. Then go to the person's supervisor.
C. If the alleged harassment is unresolved, and a formal complaint is filed:
Complaints of sexual misconduct will be dealt with in accordance to the 2008 Book of Discipline, paragraphs 361, 362, 363. Anyone who has experienced clergy sexual misconduct is advised/encouraged to call the Advocates Access Line 1-887-852-5250, a confidential phone line.