A noted theologian and lecturer who pleaded guilty to two sexual abuse charges involving a young boy should not be “tarred in a sexual context” says the dean of the Diocese of Calgary.
Dr. Lynn Bauman, 57, pleaded guilty in Texas to indecency with a child by contact and inducing a sexual performance by a child. He was sentenced in August to 10 years probation, fined $1,500 and ordered to perform 240 hours of community service.
“I’m not going to convict him in my heart and I hope that other people do not, either,” Dean Robert Pynn said.
The convictions will prevent him from travelling to Canada to teach or lecture. Dr. Bauman was last in Calgary during Holy Week this year, speaking on a program of spiritual development for parishes. He was planning to return to continue his work here.
Dean Pynn, who is the diocese’s senior administrator until a new bishop is elected in November, urged people not to let the conviction overshadow Dr. Bauman’s positive contributions to the diocese.
“I think people make mistakes and there are consequences, but I do not think we should tar him in a sexual context,” the dean said. He suggested media coverage of the incident did not reflect its true context.
The charges relate to an incident at a north Texas retreat run by Dr. Bauman. Bishop James Stanton of the Diocese of Dallas said Dr. Bauman voluntarily resigned after the allegations came to light in April 1997.
“He said, ‘I want to save the diocese some grief,’ and he resigned,” Bishop Stanton said. The bishop sent a notice of renunciation (stating that Dr. Bauman was no longer licensed as a priest) to all U.S. Episcopal dioceses in May 1997. The church also notified civil authorities about the allegation, as required by law.
There is no procedure for informing the Anglican Church in Canada about such notices, Bishop Stanton said, adding “perhaps it’s something the two churches should be discussing.”
“Reaction in the diocese has been great sadness,” Bishop Stanton continued. “Lynn was a very influential teacher ?This is a great tragedy for him, for the kids and for the families involved as well.”
Dr. Bauman had informed Calgary Archbishop Barry Curtis of the allegations, Dean Pynn confirmed. The dean, who has spoken with Dr. Bauman, expressed concern that society presumes total guilt before all the facts are revealed.
“The court system and trials are very expensive and unless you have the resources, it can be very difficult to defend yourself,” Dean Pynn said.
Dr. Bauman was advised to plea-bargain, which meant he could not defend himself, the dean said. “While he confessed to the charges I’m convinced that he is not guilty in the true moral sense of the word.” Bill Hart is editor of the Calgary diocesan newspaper, The Sower.