February 05, 2004
misconduct claims directed at prof, records state
affidavits filed in the 48th Judicial District Court,
Christian Church officials accused Stephen Sprinkle of
trying to impede an investigation into sexual misconduct
claims made against him.
A Brite administrator who says he was barred by Disciples
of Christ officials from interviewing prospective ministers
because of his homosexuality has also been the subject
of a church investigation of alleged sexual misconduct,
according to court records obtained by the TCU Daily Skiff.
Stephen Sprinkle, Brite Divinity Schools director
of field education, came under investigation by the Christian
Churchs Southwest Region for alleged sexual misconduct
after a complaint was made by a Brite Divinity student,
according to documents filed in the 48th Judicial District
Court by Christian Church officials.
Those documents were filed Nov. 12, 2003, in response
to Sprinkles Oct. 16 petition seeking depositions
regarding potential claims of defamation by others,
conspiracy to defame, interference with contract, and
conspiracy to interfere with contract. According
to Sprinkles petition, depositions are being sought
to investigate cause for a possible lawsuit. A hearing
in the 48th District Court is scheduled for Feb. 12.
Sprinkle has alleged he was barred by Ben Hubert, the
Southwest Regions chairman of the Committee on the
Ministry, from participating in interviews of prospective
ministers on the grounds that he was polarizing
Hubert is among the four church members who filed an answer
to the petition. They contend in their legal responses
that Sprinkles petition was filed the day after
they interviewed him in connection with the sexual misconduct
allegation and that the petition is intended to
intimidate the Regional Church and to mute or silence
expressions of criticism. Besides Hubert, the respondents
include Donald Manworren, Robert Stewart and Herbert Lynskey,
a minister who serves as the Regional Churchs Sexual
Misconduct Policy Coordinator.
The status of the committees investigation is unclear.
Bryan Feille, the Brite associate dean of student affairs
and the second Brite representative to the Committee on
the Ministry, said that because of confidentiality concerns,
the Region will not release information regarding investigations
unless the committee removes the minister from good standing.
When asked the status of the investigation, Feille said
he did not know.
Numerous phone calls and messages to the respondents have
not been returned.
Sprinkle referred all questions to his attorney, Richard
Griffen, who declined to comment.
If Sprinkles petition for depositions is granted,
the committees specific goal of discovering
and dealing with instances of clergy sexual misconduct
will be made enormously more difficult, church members
The Southwest Region adheres to a Clergy Sexual Misconduct
Policy and Procedure for response in the event of alleged
misconduct. The policy says the members of the Regional
Committee on the Ministry shall serve as members of a
disciplinary hearing. Representatives from Brite, as well
as all other ex-officio members, do not participate in
the hearings, according to the policy.
If a minister is found guilty of sexual misconduct, he
or she can have their ministerial standing suspended or
terminated, the policy states.