TRAVERSE CITY — A judge sentenced a former interim priest at Grace Episcopal Church to jail for trying to sexually touch a parishioner.

Accusations from three women prompted prosecutors in March to charge the Rev. Bryant Whitman Dennison Jr., 70, of Ann Arbor, with a sex crime. He eventually pleaded guilty to one count of attempted fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, a misdemeanor.

Eighty-sixth District Court Judge Thomas J. Phillips on Thursday sentenced Dennison to a 180-day jail term and two years of probation.

"The victims from our conversations with them were very satisfied with this sentence," said Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney.

Grace Episcopal church leaders in January sent a letter to parishioners that acknowledged three women accused Dennison of of sexual harassment and "inappropriate sexual contact" in 2008. Those accusations are detailed in court documents. One woman claimed Dennison hugged and sexually grabbed her on an "almost daily basis."

A church investigation led in 2010 to Dennison's five-year suspension from acting as a priest. He was reinstated by his home diocese in June 2015.

Dennison's attorney Joseph Fisher said Dennison took the plea to ease added stress to the victims.

Phillips imposed probation terms that bar Dennison from working or volunteering as a priest, rector or clergy in any parish. He's also required to continue counseling and attend a sex addicts 12-step program.

Cooney said it's his understanding that Dennison must register as a sex offender.

Recommended for you