An arbitrator has ruled that a Rockland County jail chaplain who was accused of passing out anti-Islam religious literature be suspended without pay for 30 days and face retraining.
The ruling released yesterday comes after three days of testimony during the summer. Arbitrator Paul Bailey also recommended that the jail form a policy for the distribution of religious material.
The Rev. Teresa Darden Clapp had been charged by the county with eight administrative counts of misconduct following complaints by prisoners that she passed out religious cartoon booklets in April that condemned Islam and contained derogatory depictions and descriptions of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad.
Clapp was suspended without pay in May. She could return to her post by next week and would not need to serve any additional suspension. Clapp will undergo training immediately upon return.
The distribution of the tracts raised an outcry in the local Muslim community, including calls for Clapp's termination.
Clapp could not be reached for comment yesterday. She was represented in the hearings by an attorney for her union, the Civil Service Employees Association.
Muslims who testified in the hearings expressed concern and disappointment at the arbitrator's decision.
"That's very bad," said Mohammed Ziaullah of Chestnut Ridge. "I was not expecting that type of decision. We were thinking that she most probably (would) be assigned some other duties. ... I don't want her to lose her job, it will be (a) hardship on her, but she should not be sent to the same position." (MORE)