Editor’s note: This story was updated on June 22 to include information posted on the Diocese of Rochester’s website.
[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs issued a June 19 pastoral statement saying the Rt. Rev. Prince Singh, bishop provisional of the dioceses of Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, requested a Title IV investigation into himself after his two sons made public accusations alleging their father’s history of physical, verbal and psychological abuse against them and their mother, and his alleged excessive drinking.
One of Singh’s sons last week also apparently submitted a written complaint alleging misconduct to the Diocese of Rochester, where Singh previously served as bishop, according to a post on the diocese’s website. The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, provisional bishop of Rochester, said he forwarded the complaint to The Episcopal Church.
“The complaint came to me last week, and I deemed that it constituted a complaint of misconduct as defined by the disciplinary canons (Title IV) of The Episcopal Church,” Lane wrote.
Title IV refers to the section of The Episcopal Church’s Canons that details the process for investigating and resolving matters when a clergy member is accused of misconduct.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Office of Pastoral Development, which is led by Bishop Todd Ousley, issued the pastoral statement which was then sent to subscribers of the public affairs email list. “Please be assured that these allegations are being taken seriously, and that Bishop Curry has been in contact with Bishop Singh’s sons and his ex-spouse during the past several months,” the statement said.
Formerly a priest in New Jersey, Singh served as bishop of the Diocese of Rochester from 2008 until February 2022 when elected provisional bishop of the dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan. His election came after the 2021 resignation of Bishop Whayne Hougland following an extramarital affair.
Singh and his now ex-wife were married in India, in what was apparently a cross-caste arranged marriage, according to a letter Ekalaivan “Eklan” Singh, the younger of the two sons, shared on Facebook. Jebaroja “Roja” Singh is a South Asian Dalit feminist scholar and teaches at St. John Fisher University in Rochester. The Singhs divorced in 2021.
On June 16, Singh sent a message to his two dioceses informing them he’d reconnected with an old friend from seminary in India, they became engaged in December and plan to marry in August. These events had “created some conflict within my family, especially with my two sons, who are expressing anger on social media and by email,” Singh said. The same message was posted to both dioceses’ websites on June 20.
Since June 13, Nivedhan Singh and Ekalaivan Singh, have shared posts and letters to their public Facebook pages and sent emails detailing abuse by their father over 20 years. They say he blamed the divorce on their mother, while he himself had threatened divorce for years, and that he had allegedly been unhappy with her professional success.
The presidents of the Standing Committees of the two dioceses said in a June 20 statement that Singh had kept them informed of his plans regarding marriage and the resulting conflict with his children. They jointly wrote, “Several months ago, the bishop shared with the Standing Committees that, after learning about his new relationship, his sons had reached out to the Presiding Bishop expressing hurt around the dissolution of the previous marriage and some internal family dynamics. We were aware that the Presiding Bishop’s Office was going to be in touch with the boys and his ex-wife to respond pastorally. In the last week, this situation has escalated as his sons have shared their concerns more broadly.
“We feel that Bishop Prince has been transparent with us in raising this awareness and in seeking appropriate next steps with our churchwide processes….We welcome the next steps that are to be taken and look forward to a resolution.”
Their statement was accompanied by one from Singh, in which he said his sons’ actions had been embarrassing and extremely painful. He added, “Divorce is messy and mine was no exception. While we separated amicably at that time, it was not without years of spousal conflict and not without some time spent in family therapy. It has not been a simple process since.”
He has had ongoing discussions with Curry, he said, along with the two Standing Committee presidents and the dioceses’ chancellor, and as a result, he was asking the presiding bishop’s office to initiate a Title IV investigation, which he called “the appropriate way to clear these painful allegations.” He said he has offered to undergo professional psychological and alcohol evaluations. “By taking my sons’ concerns seriously, I hope that this will keep open the possibility of reconciliation,” he added.
While there are no restrictions on his service as bishop, Singh said he planned to take a week off for the evaluations, as well as spend the week of July 4 in reflective retreat.
The public affairs pastoral statement said that Curry has been in contact with Singh’s sons and his ex-spouse during the past several months. It also said that the presiding bishop’s office is unable to comment on Title IV cases, but questions and concerns regarding this matter should be sent by email to email@example.com.
–Melodie Woerman is a freelance writer and former director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas.