March 23, 2005

Church trial for hasassment, immorality set to begin or May 19


3/23/2005, 6:12 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

(AP) The United Methodist Church will try a pastor on sexual harassment and immorality charges in May in the denomination's first church trial in memory in Indiana.

Indiana's largest Protestant church on March 2 suspended the Rev. Larry Martin for 90 days with pay after other steps failed to resolve the accusations. Indiana Area Bishop Michael J. Coyner announced the May 19-21 dates for the trial on Wednesday.

The church did not reveal details of the charges against Martin, but they will come out during the trial, said church spokesman Dan Gangler.

"This is a serious charge," Gangler said.

United Methodism's statutes define sexual harassment as "a continuum of behaviors that intimidate, demean, humiliate or coerce."

The trial will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church in New Albany, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky., with retired Bishop Joe E. Pennel Jr. of Franklin, Tenn., as judge.

It was not clear Wednesday when the United Methodist Church last held a church trial in Indiana. The Rev. Riley B. Case of Kokomo, a former district superintendent for the church in northern Indiana, said he has preached since the 1950s and cannot recall a church trial in Indiana during that period.

Posted by kshaw at March 23, 2005 06:52 PM