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Cary Minister Is Suspended With Pay

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CARY — March 25, 1996, 7:32 a.m. ESTThe senior pastor of one of the Triangle's largest churches has been suspended with pay for two months and ordered to receive therapy following complaints that he sexually harassed five women.

Pastor Ed Privette of Cary's White Plains United Methodist Church is facing a civil lawsuit file by three of the five women, who are active in the church. The church body that reviewed the allegations, the Board of Ordained Ministry of the United Methodist Church, sent a letter to Privette setting out their recommendations.

The congregation learned of the panel's recommendations during Sunday services. The five women, the bishop and the district superintendent were sent copies of the panel's letter by express mail.

In addition to the suspension, the Board of Ordained Ministry recommended that Privette receive counseling and therapy for a year to deal with the issues raised in the women's complaints. A counselor will be assigned by the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.

The board's letter said a private reprimand will be placed in Privette's personnel file for five years. "If there are no further indications of sexual misconduct, this letter of reprimand will be removed from the permanent file and destroyed," the letter stated.

One of the women bringing suit, Gail Lawson, told WRAL-TV5 News she was disappointed at first with the suspension since it sounded to her like "a two-month vacation." However, Lawson said, she was glad the panel did take some action against Privette