Boston U. chaplain acknowledges misconduct, placed on leave
The Daily Free Press (Boston U.), Mar. 30, 2001http://news.excite.com/news/uw/010330/university-168 [Story no longer online? Read this]
(U-WIRE) BOSTON -- Although earlier reports
suggested former Boston University Dean Robert Watts Thornburg's leave of absence resulted from declining health, Boston
University on Thursday released a statement affirming Thornburg's leave was prompted by an admission of inappropriate conduct.
complaint has been lodged with the United Methodist Church against the 73-year-old former Dean of
Marsh Chapel and he has relinquished his credentials as a member of the clergy, according to New England Methodist Bishop
"I can acknowledge that there has been a complaint," Hassinger said yesterday
afternoon, adding that it had been lodged "not a long time ago."
The bishop, also a member of the Boston University
Board of Trustees, could not comment on the nature of the complaint or the identity of the complainant, citing confidentiality
as dictated by church rules.
According to a statement released by the University last night, Thornburg told BU
officials of his intention to step down as chaplain of Marsh earlier in the year, following a period of declining health.
were working on a transition, but in February, in response to a complaint, Dean Thornburg acknowledged having engaged in inappropriate
conduct," the statement said.
"As a consequence, he was placed on an immediate leave of absence through June 30, 2001,
at which time he will retire from Boston University," the statement continued. "We are saddened by the circumstances that
led to the end of his career."
After repeated attempts to reach the former dean yesterday, his wife was contacted late
last night. As her husband slept, she showed support for him and noted his achievements.
"Given the circumstances of
the complaint -- which is well over a year old -- rather than hurt others involved, this is the joint decision we made: that
his career of over 23 years and work with thousands of students, faculty and administration would clearly speak for itself,"
Ann Thornburg said.
She added his family and those who know him "support him totally."
in the School of Theology said he "had deep respect" for Thornburg, adding the 23-year BU veteran was "human."
he has often gone beyond the call of duty to help people. That part I think is true. I think he's a compassionate man. That
part I think is true also," said the professor, on Wednesday, March 21.
"I think it also needs to be said, which is
true for almost anybody, that there are students and staff that would not see him as a beloved dean. So there's
always been people who saw him otherwise," he added. [BASED ON THEIR EXPERIENCE OF HIS CONDUCT -- this man has finally been