Dear members of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont,
Last night, I was distressed to read a WCAX story that reported Armand Henault had been arrested. Henault was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont in 2009, although (as explained below) he has been suspended since May 13, 2013. Henault has been charged with sexual assault on a child, sexual assault – no consent, promoting recording of sexual conduct, contributing to juvenile delinquency and three counts of enabling consumption of alcohol by a minor, according to the Caledonian Record. He was arraigned earlier this afternoon, and plead not guilty. He is being held without bail at Northeast Regional Correctional Facility.
Henault, who is a licensed child and family therapist in St. Johnsbury, was ordained a deacon in January, 2009. He was placed on administrative leave as a deacon in 2013 after I received a report involving inappropriate behavior with a child in Massachusetts. We promptly reported this to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, who apparently did an investigation, but did not follow up with any further legal action.
A previous 2012 Title IV (Episcopal Church disciplinary) investigation into a report involving inappropriate behavior with a child in Vermont found no conclusive evidence of violations of the canons of the church. An investigation of the same incident by the Vermont Department of Children and Families also found there was not enough evidence to support the allegations.
When he was placed on administrative leave in 2013, Henault’s ministry and authority to function as a deacon were suspended until such time as various requirements placed upon him by my Pastoral Direction are met. He has never met those requirements, and since then he has continuously been prohibited from functioning as a deacon, or in any other official capacity as a member of the clergy of the Episcopal Church, or on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont.
The Episcopal Diocese of Vermont will cooperate with law enforcement officials in any way we can as this investigation continues. Additionally, we are determining next steps in terms of disciplinary action within our own ecclesiastical context, and will keep members of the diocese appropriately informed.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to create an environment which affirms the dignity and worth of every person as lovingly created in the image of God. It is our responsibility to denounce oppression in all forms, including sexual abuse, exploitation or harassment and make our church a safe place for the most vulnerable among us.
We take allegations of misconduct very seriously, which includes making reports to the appropriate authorities when child abuse and sexual misconduct is suspected and cooperating with ongoing investigations. All clergy and lay employees of the church are required to complete the “Safe Church” educational training program.
If any members of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont would like to talk to me about this or any related incidents, I am here and ready to listen.
I ask your prayers for all those involved, especially for the young victims in this case and their families. I will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely