Panel to decide fate of Episcopal bishop

June 13, 2008 7:42:51 AM PDT
A nine-member panel of bishops, priests and church members is deliberating the fate of the head of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. The panel has about a month to decide whether Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. covered up his brother's assaults of a teenage girl in the 1970s.

Bennison testified during a four-day ecclesiastical trial this week in Philadelphia that he did not recall dates, places and people who spoke to him about his brother's misconduct.

Bennison's brother, John, was a lay minister and later a priest at a California church where Bennison was rector. He left the priesthood in 2006.

If found guilty, the bishop could be reprimanded, suspended, or ousted from the church. If found not guilty, he would resume his duties and the complaint would be dismissed.