Two former employes of an Episcopal Church commission who were jailed for 10 months for refusing to testify before a grand jury have been given $35,800 from Presiding Bishop John M. Allin's discretionary fund in addition to their termination entitlements.
Maria Cueto and Raisa Nemikin, former executive director and secretary, respectively, or the church's former National Commission on Hispanic Affairs, were jailed last year for refusing to testify before a grand jury probing terrorist activities of the Puerto Rican nationalist group, FALN.
The grand jury had been seeking information on the whereabouts of Carlos Alberto Torres, a fugitive and former member of the Hispanic affairs commission.
When the two women were released from prison in January, they said they no longer wanted to work for the church because they felt its administration had "betrayed" their cause.
In applying personnel policies for "termination settlements" for the two women, the church's administration sent Nemikin $1,419.00 for 11 vacation days and 24 severance days, while Cueto was given $4,242.90 for 11 vacation days and 22 severance days.
The checks were returned by Robert S. Potter, attorney for the women, because he said he would be "embarrassed to give them" to the women. Potter asked Episcopal Church officials to pay in full the women's salaries and legal fees, which would have totaled some $75,000.
After several members of the Church's Executive Council expressed concern at its May meeting that communication between the church and the two women had been "closed off," Bishop Allin asked Suffragan Bishop Quintin Primo of Chicago to intervene.
Bishop Primo suggested that the women be given more money, to be taken from the presiding bishop's discretionary fund. He said he would attempt to secure gifts to replace the amount used. A total of $35,000 was agreed on.