Former Sanctuary Guest No Longer Permitted on UUS:E Property

Dear UUS:E Members and Friends:

This is a difficult, though necessary message.

Those of you who were involved in UUSE’s congregational life in the two years prior to the pandemic will remember the challenges we encountered in hosting a sanctuary guest, known to us as Rocky, from October of 2018 to October of 2019. Rocky’s time with us created a painful conflict among members of the congregation. A report on the sanctuary conflict was released to the congregation in June of 2021. If you would like to read the report, please feel free to contact Rev. Josh at [email protected].

This past May, Rocky was arrested in New York City on multiple charges related to a sexual assault on an adult. He ultimately pled guilty to a felony sexual assault and was incarcerated for over six months on Rikers Island. During his incarceration he periodically called the UUS:E office. During his final month in prison he called the office frequently. Given Rocky’s behavior during his time at UUS:E; given that he pled guilty to felony sexual assault; given that he doesn’t appear to show understanding of why his actions were wrong; and given that he appears to take no responsibility for his role in the conflict that swirled around him during and after his stay at UUS:E, the UUS:E Policy Board, with six voting members present at a special meeting on March 6th, voted unanimously to bar him from access to UUS:E property and events. Please note that as we present this situation to the congregation, we have endeavored to be as accurate as possible and to avoid speculation about any events. We request that the congregation do likewise.

Here is the Policy Board’s motion from March 6th:

Our former sanctuary guest, known to us as Rocky, is not permitted on UUS:E property, or at any UUS:E-sponsored event, including online events. We will attempt to notify Rocky of this decision, ideally in writing. We will also notify the congregation. If Rocky does come onto UUS:E’s property or attempts to attend a UUS:E-sponsored event, we will ask him to leave. If he refuses to leave, we will ask him to leave a second time. If he refuses to leave again, we will contact police for assistance.

The Policy Board also agreed that we would notify our regular renters of this decision.

It appears that Rocky was released from prison on Friday, March 3rd. We had asked him to call the UUS:E office on Tuesday, March 7th at 3:00 PM to communicate the Policy Board’s decision to him. He did not call. We will do everything in our power to communicate our decision to him as soon as we have contact information for him.

In the meantime, while we believe it is highly unlikely Rocky will come to Manchester, we really have no idea what his intentions are. In the event that he calls the UUS:E office and asks for contact information for UUS:E members or friends, we will not share information with him. In the event that he contacts UUS:E members and friends, we respectfully ask that no contact information for any other UUS:E members or friends be shared with him, and that you report any contact to Rev. Josh or the UUS:E office. 

Please know that the Manchester Police Department has been made aware of this situation and we are currently seeking their advice on how to best handle it should it arise. Also, the Policy Board is currently developing a more elaborate set of protocols to respond to Rocky should he choose to visit UUS:E. These protocols are based on the “disruptive person” section of our Safe Congregation policy and our emergency response protocol for “unarmed, disturbed person.” These protocols will be distributed to UUS:E leaders, and anyone else who requests them, once they are completed. 

If you have any concerns about this situation or the content of this message, please do not hesitate to contact one of us for further discussion.

With love and care,

Rev. Josh Pawelek, Minister               Peggy Webbe, President         Anne Carr, Vice President