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Decision No. 839

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October 29 1998
In Re: Review of Minnesota Annual Conference Sexual Misconduct Policy. Review of the Policy on Sexual Ethics of the Kansas East Annual Conference. Request from the East Ohio Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the Constitutionality of the Sexual Ethics Policy Adopted by the Conference. Review of the Rewritten Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy of the North Alabama Annual Conference

Digest of Case

The Judicial Council remands the following policies to the respective Annual Conferences for revision, with the direction that said policies are void and of no effect, until such policies are revised, adopted by the Annual Conference, and resubmitted to the council for review and approval: I. Minnesota Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Misconduct II. Kansas East Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Ethics III. East Ohio Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Ethics IV. North Alabama Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Harassment and Misconduct

Statement of Facts

I. Minnesota Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Misconduct: During its 1998 session , the Minnesota Annual Conference adopted a "Sexual Misconduct Policy" and forwarded that Policy to the Judicial Council for review. The Policy included references to several appendices, which were not adopted by the Annual Conference as a part of the Policy. II. Kansas East Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Ethics: The Kansas East Annual Conference at its June 6, 1998 session, adopted a comprehensive policy on sexual ethics. Three distinct areas are covered under the umbrella of this policy: 1) The Kansas East Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church Policy on Sexual Ethics, 2) Policies and Procedures of the Kansas East Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church as to Misconduct of a Sexual Nature by Professional Ministers, and 3) the Kansas East Annual Conference for the Protection of Children and Youth. A motion was made on behalf of the Kansas East Annual Conference cabinet that: ...the Kansas East Annual Conference policy on sexual ethics we just adopted be a part of our petition to the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision on this question: Do the policies and procedures of The Kansas East Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church Policy on Sexual Ethics conform to the Constitution, Discipline, and decisions of the Judicial Council? III. East Ohio Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Ethics: The East Ohio Annual Conference approved a Sexual Ethics Policy in 1994 and forwarded it to the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision. The policy was judged to be in violation of the Constitution, Discipline, and Judicial Council Decisions as stated in Decision 738. The policy was revised and presented to the 1997 Annual Conference for adoption. It was approved. Following its approval, a motion was adopted to petition the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision concerning the Sexual Ethics Policy. IV. North Alabama Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Harassment and Misconduct: The 1998 session of the North Alabama Annual Conference adopted a revised "Policy Statement and Procedures on Misconduct of a Sexual Nature" in response to Decision 814, which remanded the previous policy for appropriate revisions to bring it into conformity with the 1996 Discipline and Judicial Council Decisions. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2616 of the 1996 Discipline. Analysis and Rationale Annual Conferences have developed policies related to sexual ethics, sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment, which have come before the Judicial Council as requests for declaratory decisions and on review of bishop’s decisions of law. Many of these policies are not in compliance with the 1996 Discipline and the related Judicial Council Decisions. In fact, some of these policies contain provisions which are unconstitutional. Any Annual Conference developing or revising sexual ethics and misconduct policies may be guided by attention at least to Decisions 803, 814 and 824. Such policies may cite as information specific disciplinary paragraphs, but not summarize, paraphrase, or modify any paragraph in the Discipline as the Judicial Council has affirmed in Decisions 476, 700, 736 and 824. Many of these policies have deficiencies and improper provisions too numerous for the Judicial Council to address without actually rewriting the policy, which exceeds the scope of the Judicial Ccouncil’s authority. In Decision 736 the council set forth certain guidelines which would be appropriate for inclusion in such a policy as well as certain provisions which are prohibited in such policies. All persons charged with responsibility of development of such policy would be well advised to review Decision 736. In addition, the council notes a number of other recurring common problems that appear in submitted policies. In these four policies, which are before the council for review in this session, the council finds deficiencies which require revision and/or modification. There are in all of these policies, provisions which make the policies invalid. The council finds one or more of the following constitutional or disciplinary violations, which require corrections. It is noted that the list contained herein is not exhaustive and extreme care must be given to assure that all provisions are in compliance with the 1996 Discipline and Judicial Council Decisions. In addition to those noted in Decision 736, other errors in policies include: 1. Purpose and purview of policy not clearly stated, i.e sexual ethics, sexual misconduct, sexual harassment. 2. Definitions which are over broad and not in conformity with the 1996 Discipline. 3. Committees, teams, task forces or other structures are included which are not in harmony with the 1996 Discipline. 4. Inappropriate assignment of duties and authority to unauthorized persons or entities. 5. Disregard of the disciplinary supervisory process in seeking reconciliation and/or resolution and/or improper application of the process. 6. Violation of fair process. 7. Failure to maintain confidentiality as required in the 1996 Discipline and Decision 800. 8. Failure to submit a policy properly adopted by the Annual Conference. 9. Any procedure in a policy which negates, violates or supercedes the Discipline renders the policy invalid. In addition, attention shall be given to the following: 1. All remanded policies are void and of no effect until reviewed and approved by the Judicial Council. 2. All remanded policies must be revised and approved by the Annual Conference prior to resubmitting the policies to the Judicial Council for review and approval. 3. A policy should leave procedures to the stated disciplinary provisions on such matters 4. Conferences seemed compelled to write lengthy policies. Short, concise policy statements leave less room for errors and are more easily understood. 5. Appendices and other material directly related to the policy must be adopted by the Annual Conference, and included when such policies with these appendices are submitted for review and approval by the Judicial Council.

Decision

The Judicial Council remands the following policies to the respective Annual Conferences for revision, with the direction that the said policies are void and of no effect, until such policies are revised, adopted by the Annual Conference, and resubmitted to the council for review and approval: I. Minnesota Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Misconduct II. Kansas East Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Ethics III. East Ohio Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Ethics IV. North Alabama Annual Conference Policy on Sexual Harassment and Misconduct

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