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Jefferts Schori in the dark on Wikipedia edit

22 August 2007

by Simon Sarmiento

A SUGGESTION that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, ordered the removal of information from the Wikipedia website, has been discredited.

The story, which originated on an American conservative website in May, resurfaced last Saturday in The Independent newspaper.

The Independent reported that Barbara Alton, personal assistant to the Bishop of Pennsylvania, the Rt Revd Charles Bennison, “deleted information concerning a cover-up of child sexual abuse [by the Bishop’s brother], allegations that the Bishop misappropriated $11.6 million in trust funds, and evidence of other scandals. When challenged about this, Alton claims she was ordered to delete the information by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.”

Ms Alton confirmed this week that she was acting on her own initiative as the Bishop’s personal assistant. She had edited the Bishop’s biography on the website, because of changes that others had made which she described as “a frightening mess”. She did not have the time to follow the Wikipedia process for correcting misinformation, however, and so had simply replaced it with the standard official text. This had led to her being banned by Wikipedia.

She had never received an order from Dr Jefferts Schori, however, nor from anyone else at Episcopal Church headquarters.

Church officials in New York confirmed that the Presiding Bishop had never spoken to Barbara Alton.


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