Detectives Seek Episcopal Minister

Warrant for Clergyman on Seven Criminal Charges1

With Rev. Samuel Neal Kent, rector of St. Mary's Protestant Episocpal church, Warwick, missing from his church since last Friday, Federal agents have appeared on the scene and say they have a warrant for his arrest on seven criminal charges. Waht the chrages are, the detectives refused to say. They stated, however, that the clergyman was "wanted by Uncle Sam - and wanted badly."

he is about 40 years of age, it is said, and unmarried.

Edwin Arnold, chief of the Department of Justice  operatives in this district, was in Reading on Friday looking for Edward Kent and said at the Hotel Penn, where he was registered, that he has a warrant for Kent's arrest, and that a duplicate is being held in the United States marshall's office in Philadlephia. He declined to disclose the nature of the charges upon which the warrant is based.

Rev. Mr. Kent has been rector of St. Mary's parish just one month. He was sent there by the appointing power of the Philadelphia diocese when Rev. C. F. Scofield resigned to engage in church survey work in Baltimore. When he arrived in the pretty village in the hills just above the Conestoga Valley, the parishioners were captivated by his personality and gave him an enthusiastic welcome. Today they are stunned by the amazing turn of events.

Before coming to take charge of St. Mary's Parish, Mr. Kent was rector of a church in Newport, R.I., detectives say, and was made chaplain at Fort Adams, near that city. One of the agents volunteered the information that Kent had been "traced through Battle Creek, Mich., and that a wide net has been spread for his apprehension."

Two Sundays ago Mr. Kent was absent for the first time from his parish and his predecessor came from Baltimore to fill the pulpit. The following Friday he appeared in Warwick and took luncheon at the home of a parishioner, where he was accustomed to get his meals. For the first time he appeared with a woman, whom he introduced as his sister.

"Mr. Kent said he was going away again, but would be back before long," Mrs. Thomas Filman, his hostess, told a reporter.

An hour after he left, two officers arrived and inquired for the rector. Mrs. Filman told them he might be expected any time. They waited all afternoon, and are still waiting.

A telegram from diocesan headquarters in Philadelphia later announced that a Rev. Mr. Clark, of Phaildelphia, would fill St. Mary's pulpit on the following Sunday.

The minister's automobile and a number of personal effects are still in Warwick.

Visitors to the village are closely watched by the Federal agents, who are stationed there day and night. They say "someone higher up" is trying to "cover" the rector of St. Mary's.

Mr. Kent, according to some of the parishioners, became very popular and in the short time at Warwick took an active part in grange meetings, was interested in school work and on one occasion attended a church meeting in West Chester.

"He never seemd anxious to avoid people," one of his vestrymen said. "He never showed sign of nervousness or gave any signs that he was not all we took him for, a Christian minister."

Members of the parish have learned little of their minister's predicament. They merely know that "detectives are after the rector."


Accused Rector is Acquitted2

The Rev. Samuel Kent Was Charged With Immoral Conduct

Providence, R.I. Jan. 9.- the Rev. Smaule Neal Kent, an Episcopalian clergyman formerly at Newport and now rector of a parish at Warwick, Pa., was found not guilty of charges of immoral conduct on the Government reservation at Newport, by a jury in the United States District Court here last night.

Mr. Kent was placed on trial last Monday morning and for four days counsel for Government and defense fought every step of the way. The case was important, counsel for both sides contended, because the character of a minister of the gospel had been attacked.

The Rev. Mr. Kent is to return immediately to his parish at Warwick, Pa., it was announced after the trial.

  • 1. Reading Times, 10/25/1919
  • 2. Harrisburg Telegraph, 1/9/1920