A choirmaster vicar has been defrocked for sharing a bed with an adult male lodger after telling him he needed comforting for ‘night terrors’.
Rev Simon Lumby, 52, who has already resigned from his parish and the priesthood, was found to have crossed the professional boundaries twice with members of his congregation, according to a judgment just published.
Both complaints arose out of his behavior at St Aidan’s Church, New Parks, Leicester, a misconduct panel was told.
The most recent accusation was made in April 2020, by the vicar’s former lodger, referred to only as Person 1, who has since married another person.
It was claimed Mr Lumby fondled his guest in the vicarage and allowed him to repeatedly enter his room at night and stay there.
The panel was told that at the time Mr Lumby, referred to as SL, was not only the landlord but mentor of the lodger, who was exploring Christianity with a view to joining the priesthood himself.
Rev Simon Lumby, 52, who has already resigned from his parish and the priesthood, was found to have crossed the professional boundaries twice with members of his congregation, according to a judgment just published
The church said: ‘Person 1 started worshiping at St Aidan’s in December 2012. Person 1 quickly became a regular attender (four times a week) and decided to get confirmed.
‘Individual instruction was provided for him by SL and Person 1 was confirmed.
‘Shortly afterwards, Person 1 began exploring whether he had a vocation for ordination, and discussed this with SL 4 who suggested that he should act as Person 1’s Spiritual Director and Confessor.
‘Person 1 spent Holy Week living with SL at the vicarage, and moved into the vicarage as SL’s lodger.
‘When he gave evidence, Person 1 was asked why he chose to move into the vicarage, and he stated that it was more convenient, it was quieter than his former accommodation, he was thinking about ordination, and that – at least initially – he and SL had a very positive relationship.’
The vicar was said to be ‘undergoing a period of stress and anxiety resulting in ‘night terrors’ as a result of other matters relating to his accommodation and challenges in his ministry’.
The judgment continued: ‘Person 1 gave evidence that when SL had a night terror, he would get up from his own bed, go to SL’s room, and wake him up.
‘On occasions he would have to do this several times a night. Person 1 said that SL wanted to be comforted, and that he would sit on his bed and hug him.’
Physical contact progressed to sitting in his bed with him, and from there to sleeping in his bed with him, to touching the panel found.
After a few months, the lodger had formed a relationship with the other member of the congregation he was to marry and the two men argued about it until the lodger left the vicarage never to return.
In 2019, he was involved in a confrontation with another student. He later told the collage principal he had been ‘sexually abused’ by a priest and the church was informed.
The panel agreed the lodger had consented to what happened ‘which in all probability took place in the context of an intimate friendship between the two of them, and when both were under the influence of alcohol’.
However, the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Leicester said the harm caused to the victim was ‘significant’ in terms of his ‘mental health, his sense of shame, his distrust for authority, and the effects upon both his training and ministry. ‘
It was claimed between November 2013 and March 2014, Mr Lumby fondled his guest in the vicarage and allowed him to repeatedly enter his room at night and stay there
Members also noted that the Vicar has a number of previous findings of misconduct, in particular the first dated 25 July 2013, in which he sent inappropriate text messages to a 17-year-old boy.
The judgment continued: ‘We requested, and were provided with details of the circumstances of this misconduct which had clear sexual undertones.
‘We were deeply concerned by what they revealed about the Respondent’s conduct towards a vulnerable child who was a member of his congregation.
‘In both that previous case and the present case, there was a wholesale failure to observe proper boundaries.’
The vicar, who denied all the allegations, did not turn up to the hearing in January, but sent a letter saying: ‘I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign both as Vicar of Saint Aidan’s New Parks and to resign my orders as an Anglican Priest.
‘For convenience, it would make sense that, and as far as I am concerned, my resignation will take effect from the end of this month.
‘I am fully aware that the process I currently find myself in will continue… I have come to the decision that my submitted answer will be my last word on this subject and that the process will therefore have to continue without me. I will no longer engage with it.’
Mr Lumby is a conductor, tenor, pianist, and organist of note, who has since returned to his role as a freelance musician and choir leader,
According to his website, he now directs ‘Viva la Musica’ – an exciting young Chamber Choir in Loughborough and is also the Musical Director of the Ryton Chorale, a large choral society based in Worksop.
Contacted about the allegations, he said: ‘I have absolutely nothing to say.. Please don’t ring.’