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Former rector at Trinity Church misused more than $200,000 in parish funds, church announces

Menlo Park's Trinity Church now looking for interim rector

Trinity Church in Menlo Park. Photo by Michelle Le

The Episcopal faith community at Trinity Church in Menlo Park is now searching for an interim rector after an investigation found that its former rector misused more than $200,000 in parish funds.

Five months ago, in late April, Trinity Church leaders announced that the community's rector, Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett, had admitted to using church funds for personal spending and been placed on administrative leave.

The Episcopal Diocese of California then conducted a forensic investigation through Redwood City-based Evidentia Consulting over three months and found that that Dutton-Gillet misused more than $200,000 in parish funds, substantially more than the $125,000 initially believed to have been misused, according to Sept. 25 letter sent out to the Trinity Church community and provided to The Almanac by Steve Andrew, junior warden at the church.

Trinity Church is a community of about 150 to 170 regular attendees, according to Andrew. It is located at 330 Ravenswood Ave. in Menlo Park.

Dutton-Gillett began using church funds for personal use back in 2011, shortly after becoming the rector, according to the letter. The Almanac's attempts to reach him were not immediately successful.

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The investigation's findings were also reported to the Menlo Park Police Department. The police department confirmed Monday that the case is under investigation, according to department spokesperson Nicole Acker.

As a result of the misuse of church funds, Dutton-Gillett faces disciplinary actions laid out through the Episcopal Church. His ministry as a priest will be restricted for the next four years, and he will be under the supervision of Bishop Marc Andrus, according to the letter.

He will not be permitted to work as a priest or in any church position that involves managing funds.

After four years, he may be removed from the priesthood, or the restrictions may be modified, kept or stopped. He also must provide restitution for the misused funds. So far, he has paid back about $52,000, according to the letter. The church's insurance company has also paid the church $100,000, the maximum that was covered.

Dutton-Gillett has been on paid leave since April 16 and was removed as the rector on Sept. 4.

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The church stopped paying his salary and pension but will continue to pay his family's health insurance through the end of the year and permit them to continue living in the rectory rent-free until Jan. 15, the letter said.

Before working at Trinity Church, he had about 17 years of experience working in different ministry settings, including at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The church hopes to find an interim rector to serve for up to two years, according to the letter.

Read the full letter here:

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was first published to include confirmation received from the Menlo Park Police Department that the case is under investigation and to note that The Almanac is trying to reach Dutton-Gillett.

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Former rector at Trinity Church misused more than $200,000 in parish funds, church announces

Menlo Park's Trinity Church now looking for interim rector

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Sep 28, 2020, 11:53 am

The Episcopal faith community at Trinity Church in Menlo Park is now searching for an interim rector after an investigation found that its former rector misused more than $200,000 in parish funds.

Five months ago, in late April, Trinity Church leaders announced that the community's rector, Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett, had admitted to using church funds for personal spending and been placed on administrative leave.

The Episcopal Diocese of California then conducted a forensic investigation through Redwood City-based Evidentia Consulting over three months and found that that Dutton-Gillet misused more than $200,000 in parish funds, substantially more than the $125,000 initially believed to have been misused, according to Sept. 25 letter sent out to the Trinity Church community and provided to The Almanac by Steve Andrew, junior warden at the church.

Trinity Church is a community of about 150 to 170 regular attendees, according to Andrew. It is located at 330 Ravenswood Ave. in Menlo Park.

Dutton-Gillett began using church funds for personal use back in 2011, shortly after becoming the rector, according to the letter. The Almanac's attempts to reach him were not immediately successful.

The investigation's findings were also reported to the Menlo Park Police Department. The police department confirmed Monday that the case is under investigation, according to department spokesperson Nicole Acker.

As a result of the misuse of church funds, Dutton-Gillett faces disciplinary actions laid out through the Episcopal Church. His ministry as a priest will be restricted for the next four years, and he will be under the supervision of Bishop Marc Andrus, according to the letter.

He will not be permitted to work as a priest or in any church position that involves managing funds.

After four years, he may be removed from the priesthood, or the restrictions may be modified, kept or stopped. He also must provide restitution for the misused funds. So far, he has paid back about $52,000, according to the letter. The church's insurance company has also paid the church $100,000, the maximum that was covered.

Dutton-Gillett has been on paid leave since April 16 and was removed as the rector on Sept. 4.

The church stopped paying his salary and pension but will continue to pay his family's health insurance through the end of the year and permit them to continue living in the rectory rent-free until Jan. 15, the letter said.

Before working at Trinity Church, he had about 17 years of experience working in different ministry settings, including at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The church hopes to find an interim rector to serve for up to two years, according to the letter.

Read the full letter here:

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was first published to include confirmation received from the Menlo Park Police Department that the case is under investigation and to note that The Almanac is trying to reach Dutton-Gillett.

Comments

margomca
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 28, 2020 at 12:49 pm
margomca, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2020 at 12:49 pm
10 people like this

I read this story with great sadness. This is a huge betrayal of faith. And why did it take so long to uncover this? From 2011!!! Nine years??? Part of the responsibility belongs to the church board. Don't they have their books audited each year? I thought that was a requirement for all non-profits. I hope those responsible boards in all non-profits take heed. Do your fiduciary duty!!!!


Steve_J
Registered user
another community
on Sep 28, 2020 at 2:34 pm
Steve_J, another community
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2020 at 2:34 pm
10 people like this

And this is the second time funds have been misused at this parish. Very sad!!


FM
Registered user
another community
on Sep 28, 2020 at 6:03 pm
FM, another community
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2020 at 6:03 pm
9 people like this

I assume the rector did not attend Mrs. Bubb's nursery school. She and Father Butcher would have taught him some honesty.


pearl
Registered user
another community
on Oct 1, 2020 at 12:52 pm
pearl, another community
Registered user
on Oct 1, 2020 at 12:52 pm
1 person likes this

A similar thing happened at the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church several months ago. Maybe churches should outsource the money end of things to independent financial agencies in order to avoid this kind of thing happening.


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