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Pittsburgh Pastor Commits Suicide in Wake of TV Probe

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    January 11, 2007 Pittsburgh pastor commits suicide in wake of TV probe Dugan admitted to having sexual encounters with a man by Evan Silverstein PCUSA News
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 11, 2007
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      January 11, 2007
      Pittsburgh pastor commits suicide in wake of TV probe
      Dugan admitted to having sexual encounters with a man
      by Evan Silverstein
      PCUSA News Service

      LOUISVILLE - A Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh took his
      own life late last year after learning that a local
      television station was about to broadcast an expose on his
      sex life that alleged illegal behavior.

      The body of the Rev. Brent J. Dugan, 60, pastor of Community
      Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon in suburban Pittsburgh, was
      found Nov. 3 in a motel room in Mercer County, PA, located
      about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, according to local
      newspaper reports.

      The Mercer County coroner's office said Dugan died that day
      of an overdose of alcohol and aspirin and ruled his death a
      suicide, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said.

      KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, which is owned and operated by CBS,
      planed to air an investigation of Dugan in what the station
      called "reports of public and illegal sexual behavior."

      Dugan learned of the investigation after KDKA ran promos for
      the scheduled broadcast, the Post-Gazette said. The
      promotions, which did not identify Dugan, referred only to a
      "local minister."

      Dugan acknowledged in a letter he left behind for his
      congregation, which he had pastored since 1988, that he had
      occasional sexual encounters with a man who eventually
      betrayed him by setting up a meeting at an adult bookstore
      where KDKA-TV recorded him, according to the Post-Gazette.

      The Post-Gazette said the reporter who conducted the
      investigation explained during a broadcast that he had been
      working on the piece for a month and had "uncovered illicit,
      possibly illegal, activity by a local minister, activities
      which at the very least violated the rules of his
      denomination."

      Ironically, the station decided the night before Dugan
      killed himself not to air the story after it received
      information from someone close to Dugan that indicated that
      he was considering doing harm to himself, the Post-Gazette
      said, adding that it was not clear if Dugan ever knew that
      the station had decided not to run the segment.

      A statement released by the session of Community
      Presbyterian Church said, "we are a community in grief" over
      Dugan's loss.

      "As a favorite person to many of us, our beloved pastor is
      now gone, and we will never understand all of the reasons
      for his actions," the statement said. "But we will cherish
      the many gifts he gave to us each week and each year as he
      helped to make our lives full of the Word and grace of God."

      The Rev. Jim Mead, pastor to Pittsburgh Presbytery, said in
      a statement posted on the presbytery's Web site that "Brent
      was and is deeply respected in this presbytery, known for
      the fruit he bore in ministry, his caring and
      thoughtfulness, and for his humble, missional leadership. He
      was a very dear man."

      Mead, who could not be reached for additional comment, read
      the letter Dugan wrote to Community Presbyterian Church
      during a Pittsburgh Presbytery meeting last month, according
      to the Post-Gazette.

      In the letter, Dugan apologized for the shame he believed he
      had brought on the presbytery, the newspaper said. Dugan
      said he had struggled with his sexuality all his adult life,
      hoping to fall in love with a woman, but concluding he was
      to devote his life only to his congregation, according to
      the Post-Gazette.

      Dugan said he did so until four years ago, when he became
      close friends with a man who claimed to love him, and with
      whom he had occasional sexual encounters, according to the
      Post-Gazette. That man cajoled him into leaving specific
      kinds of sexual fantasies on his answering machine, and then
      betrayed him by setting up a meeting at an adult bookstore,
      where KDKA-TV recorded him, Dugan wrote.

      He urged his fellow pastors to renounce any sins they might
      be tempted to commit and live pure lives. He also explained
      that just before KDKA confronted him, he had accepted a call
      to become pastor of a congregation in Northern California.

      Dugan was a graduate of Edinboro College in Edinboro, PA;
      Pittsburgh Theological Seminary; and Duquesne University in
      Pittsburgh. Survivors include his mother, Joyce Lawson
      (Dugan) Decker of Edinboro; and a brother, Brenda Petrick
      Dugan of Cambridge Springs, PA.

      Community Presbyterian church was formed in 1987 when Ben
      Avon's two Presbyterian churches, Ben Avon Presbyterian
      Church on Church Avenue and Woodland United Presbyterian
      Church on Dickson Avenue, joined together due to declining
      membership.

      The Rev. Jean H. Henderson, interim pastor of Community
      Presbyterian Church, said in a message she read at a
      memorial service for Dugan that was later posted on the
      church's Web site, that "forgiveness pours from our eyes and
      our hearts and our mouths for you today, Brent. But peace in
      our hearts? That will take a while, at least for me. Some of
      us are having trouble forgiving ourselves that we couldn't
      have prevented your suicide - that somehow we didn't hear
      your silent screams and your masked loneliness. Peace will
      come, Brent, maybe in the morning, maybe in the morning."
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