Reflections On The Scandal
Fr. Ted Bobosh, Dayton OH
The question, "What was Proskauer Rose hired to do?" is an important one especially for those interested in knowing whether or not they did a "good" job. Of course, we can't exactly evaluate their job until we know what they were tasked to do. And "good" is a relative term - good for who? Good from the point of view of whom? (the membership of the OCA? the Synod of Bishops? the Chancery staff?)
When Metropolitan Herman first declared there would be some audits or reviews of OCA finances, he originally limited what was being looked at to the most recent years, and only to those years in which he was metropolitan. The results of that limited review/audit apparently was enough to cause consternation for himself, as previously he seemed to be denying there was a problem. The investigations expanded.
It is possible that when he called for an investigation by Proskauer Rose, he also did not fully understand what might be turned up or the extent of the problem that was to be revealed. So, whereas one might wonder who was limiting the Proskauer Rose investigation, one can also imagine that it was limited to some degree by his not understanding what was in the Pandora's box called the OCA he was about to unleash. Whether through ignorance, forgetfulness, denial, confusion, cover up, hopefulness, or blindness, it is possible that he also didn't totally comprehend what he was looking at - the extent of the scandal and corruption - and so couldn't give "good" guidance to Proskauer Roseas to what they were to do. In the end Proskauer Rose was given only broad or vague direction, and then carried out their investigation accordingly.
Those who believed there was a problem in the OCA were openly calling for an investigation. Amazingly, an investigation occurred, though now some are questioning what exactly was investigated. Lesson learned: it is helpful when calling for an investigation to be able to tell the investigators specifically what is being looked at and for. It is not unlike going to a clinic for an MRI . The technicians usually ask:"What are we looking for? What is the nature of the complaint that brought you here?" To be able to see something, one has to know what one is looking at or for. And of course a reason investigations and medical tests "fail" to find the problem is they were looking for the wrong thing, and/or couldn't really see what they were actually looking at.
That being said, where we are right now in the OCA is that a Special Commission has been set up to "complete the investigation started by Proskauer Rose" (according to the December 2006 joint work of the Metropolitan Council and Synod of Bishops). This Commission should therefore have the authority to determine whether what Proskauer Rose began was in fact asking the right questions, investigating the right things, offering a good diagnosis - based upon what we now know.
The Special Commission has a much more clear idea what they are looking for and at than did Proskauer Rose. Whether or not Proskauer Rose did a "good job" is somewhat a moot point as the Special Commission will have to make up what is lacking in what Proskauer Rose did by conducting their own continued investigation. Hopefully, it is much clearer now to the Special Commission what questions still need to be asked and who needs to be questioned.
Though subpoena power might help them, it would seem to me that if they ask churchmen to present themselves and answer questions, the refusal to appear or answer, or putting any limits on the questioning (attorneys must be present, etc) will give a clear picture of where these churchmen are in relationship to the Orthodox Church, and what assumptions the Special Commission can make about dealing with the problems and the personnel. The Special Commission does not have to deal with the legal issues. Their task is to look at the issues and the personnel within the canonical norms of Orthodoxy, to make recommendations or take action accordingly, including noting if the involvement of civil authorities is warranted.
The Special Commission also can rely on the word of Metropolitan Herman in dealing with the scandal and failure in church leadership. On September 8, 2006, Metropolitan Herman answered some questions put to him by Protodeacon Peter Danilchik. Among Metropolitan Herman’s comments, he said:
"Until we have a report on what has happened over the years, we can’’t say anything. ... Unless I have a document resulting from a proper investigation, what can I say publicly? ... But the investigation will reveal the truth concerning the allegations. I am not protecting anyone. I told Proskauer Rose that the investigation should go anywhere –– including myself. ... My point here is that we cannot act on allegations without proof. We need to wait for the outcome of the
Proskauer Rose investigation. .... I initiated the Proskauer Rose investigation to ensure that all
financial allegations were addressed. ..... The current investigation is 100% independent. The firm conducting the investigation was told by me to go anywhere with it –– exempting no one——including myself or the Acting Treasurer."
We, or at least the Special Commission by now, should have the report of Proskauer Rose. So now Metropolitan Herman can be expected to answer questions and to speak publicly about the investigation. The Special Commission, if it has any real authority, should have the power to question both Metropolitans Herman and Theodosius. The "outcome" of the Proskauer Rose investigation should be in the hands of the Special Commission, also having been presented to the Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council. Their report should be informing the powers that be in the OCA as to what action they need to take.
Whatever Proskauer Rose was instructed to do, the time is here for the OCA to learn the results, openly discuss and act appropriately upon this investigation.