(RNS) — Episcopal Bishop Prince Singh, provisional bishop of the dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, is being placed on leave and will be barred from practicing any form of ministry pending the resolution of a denominational investigation into allegations that he had physically and emotionally abused his wife and sons.
Since June, the bishop has been voluntarily participating in a Title IV investigation, an internal disciplinary process for Episcopal clergy accused of misconduct.
In a letter dated Sept. 7 and obtained by Religion News Service, the Rev. Clifton Daniel III, the bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina who is overseeing the Title IV investigation, cited “a series of public allegations” as reason for the decision.
“These include allegations that you verbally and physically abused your sons over a period of years; that you threw objects at your ex-wife, threatened her with a knife and by raising your hand at her; and that you publicly misrepresented facts related to your divorce,” the letter said. “In the light of these allegations, I have determined that you may have committed an Offense under Title IV, and that the good order, welfare or safety of the Church require that I place restrictions on your ministry.”
The letter orders Prince Singh to refrain from any ordained ministry, in or outside of the Episcopal Church, effective immediately until they are modified by Daniel, or changed or removed by a disciplinary board of bishops “or upon termination of any disciplinary proceedings in which you are a Respondent.” Singh may request a review of the restrictions by a panel of the disciplinary board.
“We are grateful to see this important step forward and look forward to hearing more,” Prince Singh’s sons, Nivedhan and Eklan Singh, and their mother, Roja Suganthy-Singh, said in a statement to RNS. The family members added that they are still “wary” because they believe Singh should have been placed on leave months ago.
The brothers originally disclosed their allegations to the denomination’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in December 2022 and have said that Curry and Bishop Todd Ousley, who heads the denomination’s Office of Pastoral Development, mishandled their allegations. Curry has recused himself from overseeing the Title IV investigation and designated Daniel to act as the presiding bishop for the case.
On Tuesday (Sept. 5), after 55 bishops in the Episcopal Church signed a letter citing concerns about members of their ranks receiving “free passes,” Curry announced recommendations for revising disciplinary procedures for bishops.
“For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of our integrity, and, above all, for the sake of the well-being of every child of God who is a part of this church, we cannot, we must not, and we will not sit idly by when anyone is hurt or harmed in our midst,” Curry said in his announcement.
Prince Singh’s predecessor in the dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, Whayne M. Hougland Jr., was suspended in 2020 after admitting to adultery. Last summer, members of the dioceses issued a complaint citing serious concerns with the Title IV process. They asserted that the Episcopal Church prioritized the healing and well-being of the bishop at great financial expense, while providing little support to the impacted dioceses. Nivedhan and Eklan Singh and Roja Suganthy-Singh told RNS they hope the pattern does not repeat itself.
“Fifty-five members of the House of Bishops recently signed a letter professing that bishops should not get free passes for misconduct,” Nivedhan, Eklan and Roja Suganthy-Singh wrote in an email. “Until they follow up on this sentiment with real action by taking steps to hold Bishops Curry and Ousley accountable for their track record of mishandling Title IV cases, we cannot take this profession to be anything more than sentimentality and image-management.”