The church trial of Episcopal Bishop Charles E. Bennison, accused with concealing his brother's abuse of a minor, resumed today in Philadelphia with further testimony by the adult victim.
Bishop Bennison, 64, is charged with failing to protect the victim when she was a teenager in his Upland, Calif., parish in the 1970s.
John Bennison, 59, was the parish's youth minister. Charles Bennison was the rector of the parish.
Martha Alexis, 50, said that Charles Bennison took no steps to protect her from his brother after twice walking in on them while they were having sex on church property.
The church trial, called a Court for the Trial for a Bishop, is being held at the Philadelphia Marriott hotel in Center City.
Bennison has served as the bishop of the five-county Diocese of Pennsylvania for 10 years. He was suspended in October after a special church committee concluded that he had inappropriately protected his brother to further his career.
The nine-member panel of judges in Philadelphia will decide whether Charles Bennison should be permanently removed from all clerical office in the Episcopal Church or allowed to return as Bishop of the 55,000-member diocese.
"Was any adult present at youth group activities involving John Bennison," church attorney Larry White asked this morning while questioning Martha Alexis.
"No," replied Alexis.
"Was John Bennison still in contact with you?" asked White.
"Yes," she said, adding later that the sex not only continued but grew even more degrading until John Bennison was ordained a priest and left the parish.
Alexis later testified that in 1993 Charles Bennison refused to participate in an intervention that she had requested between herself, John Bennison, and the bishop of San Francisco.
In that session, which said she hoped would bring healing, Bishop William Swing was "argumentative and disrespectful," and the session proved "emotionally devastating."
Swing not only refused to remove John Bennison from the ministry but insinuated that Alexis was only looking for money, she said.
She also said in response to White's questions, that Charles Bennison has never offered her any emotional comfort or apologized for his handling of his brother's abuse which started when she was 15-years-old and lasted for four years.
"When you're not protected you feel you're not worth protecting," Alexis told the court.
"I felt entirely abandoned by my church and my pastor," she said.