A United Methodist clergyman accused of sexual misconduct has “retired under complaint,” ending the denomination’s judicial process against the Rev. Donald “Bud” Heckman.
The formal church complaint against Heckman was first reported by United Methodist News Service in October.
Four women had filed a formal complaint against Heckman — an elder in the denomination’s West Ohio Conference who is well known in interfaith circles — accusing him of sexual harassment and misconduct, according to UMNS.
The women include Heckman’s ex-wife, Laura Heckman.
“This has been an arduous process, a burden, especially for the complainants. I deeply regret the harm that has been caused to any person due to an act of sexual misconduct by a pastor. There is no excuse,” West Ohio Bishop Gregory V. Palmer said in a written statement from the conference.
“It is my fervent prayer that all who have been impacted by this matter may continue to heal.”
A supervisory statement of understanding was signed by Heckman, Palmer and the West Ohio Conference Cabinet, as well as attorneys for the church and Heckman.
Signers agreed to make parts of the document public, according to the conference, which provided excerpts to Religion News Service. According to the signed document, Heckman acknowledged he was “not faithful to the ministerial covenant in the following ways: ‘immorality including but not limited to not being celibate in singleness and faithful in heterosexual marriage; harassment; and sexual misconduct.'”
The document also said Heckman will acknowledge “any harm this has caused others.”
Heckman may “represent himself as originally ordained as a United Methodist minister” but may “conduct no ministerial activities in the name of The United Methodist Church,” according to the document.
With a resolution reached, the complaint will not go to a church trial, according to conference.
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Source: Religion News Service