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Michigan Episcopal Bishop Accused by His Sons of Physical Abuse

By Kirk Petersen
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Episcopal Bishop Prince Singh served as bishop provisional of the combined dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan. (Photo via Facebook)

The adult sons of Michigan Episcopal Bishop Prince Singh have publicly accused their father of physically abusing them throughout their childhoods, and the bishop has requested a formal church investigation of the allegations.

Singh, the former Bishop of Rochester, has served as bishop provisional of the combined dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan since 2022.

Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry’s office acknowledged the request for an investigation under Title IV of the canons, and issued a statement saying: “Please be assured that these allegations are being taken seriously, and that Bishop Curry has been in contact with Bishop Singh’s sons and his ex-spouse during the past several months.”

“It is my firm belief and hope that the investigation will determine that I have not broken my vows to the church and my adherence to the canons,” Singh said in a message to the dioceses. He said a transparent investigation is essential because the dioceses “have a recent experience of trauma related to bishop misconduct.”

Bishop Whayne M. Hougland Jr. was leading both dioceses in 2020 when he was suspended for a year after admitting to an extramarital affair. He resigned near the end of the suspension.

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prince singh
Bishop Prince Singh (Image: The Living Church)

In lengthy, separate Facebook posts, Nivedhan Singh, 30, and Ekalaivan (Eklan) Singh, 22, both described growing up in an environment of anger and violence.

“I remember one day before school when he kicked me while I was on the ground screaming in pain because he was holding my crying baby brother at the time, so he could not use his hands,” Nivedhan Singh wrote.

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Nivedhan Singh (Courtesy Photo)

In a telephone conversation with media, Nivedhan, an audio engineer in Nashville, described “the irony of going to church every Sunday and seeing my dad preach about nonviolence and turning the other cheek, and then to come home and the very same hands that he had used to baptize a child that morning, he would then use to physically abuse me.”

Eklan Singh is an actor and musician in Fairport, New York, a Rochester suburb. He wrote that when he was 8, his father burst into a room screaming. “He was holding our landline phone in his hands and raising his voice like an angry god. He then threw the phone at my mother, but it missed and hit me instead,” he wrote.

Bishop Singh referred inquiries to Katie Forsyth, canon for evangelism and networking for the diocese, who declined to comment on the specific allegations.

Roja Singh, the bishop’s ex-wife, is an associate professor of sociology at St. John Fisher University in Rochester. Asked about her sons’ Facebook posts, she replied, “I validate their experiences. Yes, I definitely do.”

When asked to describe her experience of the marriage, Roja said: “I can say that objects were thrown at me. He has raised his hand in threatening to hit me, but he has not. He has threatened me waving a knife at me.” In January 2021, “I left the house because I did not feel safe,” she said. Their divorce was completed in June 2022.

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Eklan Singh (Courtesy Photo)

The sons went public with their accusations after Bishop Singh announced plans to remarry. “Unfortunately, this has created a hurt-filled and harmful reaction within my family, now in a public way,” he wrote in the message to the dioceses. In a separate message, he posted a six-minute video describing how he reconnected a year ago with a woman he had dated in seminary, and said they would be married in August in India. He identified her only as Ato, and Forsyth declined to provide the woman’s full name.

The sons said their father and Curry both should resign. Eklan Singh told media that he had written to Curry after Bishop Singh first announced his engagement in December. “The presiding bishop knew all the information I wrote in my letter and still did nothing. So after talking with my brother and my mother … we decided to go public,” Eklan Singh said.

Public Affairs Officer Amanda Skofstad said the presiding bishop would have no comment beyond the statement.

Bishop Singh told the dioceses: “I have offered to submit myself for comprehensive psychological and alcohol evaluation by a clinical professional. By taking my sons’ concerns seriously, I hope that this will keep open the possibility of reconciliation.” Both sons described their father as a habitual heavy drinker.

“The presiding bishop’s office has not called for a suspension or restriction on ministry. I will, however, take a week’s break to do the clinical evaluation, and will go on a reflective retreat during the week of July 4th,” Bishop Singh wrote.

The dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan agreed to share a bishop and other staff in 2019, and began a discernment process regarding a possible reunification of the dioceses. Forsyth said she expects the discernment will be completed before the next General Convention , in June 2024.

This article originally appeared at The Living Church and has been reprinted with permission.

Kirk Petersen serves as associate editor of The Living Church, a non-profit publication that reports on the Anglican Communion. 

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5 Responses

  1. It’s actually very difficult to tell the personal story of being subject to abuse and violence. When you are going through the experience of so being subject, survival adaptations kick in; adaptations which secure survival, but simultaneously obstruct articulation and telling of your story.

    Even when an adult, and no longer in the situation of being so subject, internalised dynamics still get in the way of personal story articulation and telling.

    With his wife and two sons, now telling the stories they respectively do, it is hard to see how the Bishop could be exonerated across the process he has triggered. Hard to get a fix on his motivation and expectation, on what spirit and understanding informs his personal being.

    That the sons and daughter were triggered to action by a prospective new wife being at risk of what they were subject to, seems important.

  2. On the one hand, Proverbs 23:14 says, “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”
    On the other hand, Paul tells us in Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
    There is a natural tendency for people to take a perfectly good principle and run it right into the ground, but there’s also such a thing as unresolved daddy issues going back to parturition.
    Given the elastic nature of what constitutes “abuse” in these last days, I’m going to wait for the investigation to run its course and for the facts to emerge.

    1. Rabindranath. If you are thinking about parturition clinically, doesn’t that shift explanation for family difficulties, solely on to the woman (the estranged wife)? Could you expand on the connection of parturition (in this case, so two childbirths) to “daddy issues”? And perhaps expand on what “daddy issues” you have in mind?

      Do you think that we can rely solely on Biblical references when it comes to family process and childcare? Can we afford to not take on board current thinking about such matters?

      Regards “… what constitutes “abuse” …”, what struck me was the restraint of the complaining parties, their careful articulacy. Across my personal experiences of abuse, and a degree of professional reflection on abuse: it’s not the dramatic instances of violence that signify the damage done to those subject to abuse; but rather the sustained process that from time to time culminates and expresses in those dramatic instances, I’m in favour of current understanding of abuse. I think we are at the early stages of being able to better model abuse. My sense of the estranged wife and the two sons, is; that they have barely begun telling the fine-grain story of the abuse they say they were subject to.

      1. Family conflicts often go back to the earliest days of the people involved. When children are involved, the earliest day is childbirth, or “parturition”, a process in which there are usually at least two people involved See, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parturition. Although it is fashionable in some circles to erase children from discussions of the process, that is not my position.
        It is also not my position that the Bible has nothing to offer when we think about parenting. I believe Scripture references are entirely appropriate in commenting on an article published by a Christian web site. I did not analyze the report in terms of modern, secular theories of child development because I did not consider them relevant to the point I was trying to make.
        That point was, Maybe Bishop Singh is a bad guy and maybe he isn’t. Until the facts emerge and he has an opportunity to speak for himself, I am unwilling to condemn him over claims of bad behavior going back years in the past without more than the unsupported accounts of people whose motives remain unclear.

        1. Having been in this field with various government agencies for years. I can assure you that these are not just allegations that are coming from. Why do you think his two sons would be asserting this if it wasn’t true?

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