February 25, 2022
Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,
I am writing to inform you of sad and disturbing news. In early September of 2021, I was contacted by a person who had also contacted the Bishop’s Office of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, with a complaint against Tom Whittemore, at the time, Music Director at Trinity Church, Princeton. The complainant alleged multiple instances of child sexual abuse against himself by Mr. Whittemore when Mr. Whittemore had served congregations in the Diocese of Pennsylvania in the 1980s and 90s. The allegations were serious and credible. I notified the leadership of Trinity Church, Princeton, and they immediately placed Mr. Whittemore on administrative leave pending further investigation.
Subsequently, the Bishop of Pennsylvania and I, in consultation with our Chancellors, the leadership of the parish in Pennsylvania where the alleged incidents occurred, and the leadership of Trinity Church, Princeton, agreed to retain qualified, independent persons to investigate the matter further. Michael J. Rinaldi, Esq. of Duane Morris has been investigating this matter on behalf of the two dioceses. The allegations were also reported to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. Based upon his investigation, Mr. Rinaldi concluded that certain of the allegations made against Mr. Whittemore were credible based upon compelling evidence. Having been on administrative leave since September 2021, Mr. Whittemore was terminated for cause from his position at Trinity Church on February 21, 2022.
With the complete support of the leadership of Trinity Church, Princeton, Mr. Rinaldi’s investigation is ongoing and has been expanded to include a determination of whether Mr. Whittemore engaged in any acts of sexual abuse, inappropriate behavior, or boundary violations while he was Music Director of Trinity Church. The leadership of Trinity Church, Princeton and the Diocese of New Jersey are committed to a fair, thorough and transparent investigation.
I am writing not only to inform you of this heartbreaking matter, but also to urge anyone who has information about sexual abuse or other misdeeds involving Mr. Whittemore, to contact Trinity Church via email using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, which is an address only to be used for matters related to this investigation. You may also leave a telephone message at (609) 216-7680. This extension is solely dedicated to the investigation and the Rector is the only person able to access these messages.
If you wish to speak about any related situation involving Mr. Whittemore you may contact the Rector of Trinity Church, Princeton, the Reverend Paul Jeans III at: email@example.com. You may also contact the Reverend Joanne Epply-Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Reverend Canon Dr. Kara Slade at email@example.com.
If you require pastoral care or have been impacted by another instance of sexual abuse, or sexual misconduct that is not related to Trinity Church or this complaint against Mr. Whittemore, I urge you to contact our Pastoral Response Officer, Deacon Carol Pepe by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are aware of any instance of child sexual abuse in our diocese or in our state, I urge you to immediately notify legal authorities by calling 1-877-NJ-ABUSE.
Please be assured that the safety, security and healthy nurture of all persons, especially children and youth, are a central mission of the Diocese of New Jersey and The Episcopal Church. This is a sacred trust. We require background checks and train staff and other volunteers who work with children to be on guard and proactive in preventing child physical, emotional and sexual abuse. We strive to conform to the highest standards, and all laws and policies of the State of New Jersey and the Episcopal Church, concerning child safety and protection.
If you require additional information about this matter, please refer to a letter issued by the Bishop of Pennsylvania which can be found here, or to the letter and additional information released by the Rector and Wardens of Trinity Church, Princeton which can be found here.
The world in which we all live is filled with evil and sin. The physical, sexual or mental abuse of children and youth is a particular manifestation of this and is always tragic. I hope we will hold all of those impacted in our prayers, especially those who have been victims, for whom the hurt is especially egregious and deep.
Faithfully yours in Christ
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes
12th Bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey