Anglican Priest Returns Bracelet to Couple After Initially Trying to Sell It Back
After receiving a stern reprimand from the Archbishop of Perth, Australia, an Anglican pastor returned an expensive diamond bracelet to a couple rather than selling the piece of jewelry for a 50 percent profit.
The Rev. Terry McAuliffe of St. Paul's Anglican Church in City Beach originally claimed that the gold and diamond bracelet, worth $6,500, he found in the parking lot of a restaurant was legally his property, and that he would return the bracelet to its proper owners for half the bracelet's price.
The Rev. McAuliffe justified his decision by arguing to local media outlets that like the manna which falls from the sky in Scripture, the bracelet was presented to him as a gift.
"I have been given a gift fallen from the sky," McAuliffe told The West Australian of his finding.
"What do I do with my gift? That's up to me to decide. I'm just offering to share the windfall," he said.
The Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth, however, condemned the McAuliffe's decision to sell the bracelet back for 50 percent, calling it "reprehensible" and telling the Australian Associated Press that disciplinary action will be taken against the reverend.
"I find the whole story to be quite reprehensible. There is an issue in the law, but once the owner was established the moral code must apply,'' Archbishop Herft told AAP. "There will be some explaining to be done, and I am hopeful Rev McAuliffe regrets it deeply."
"The right decision has been made but it should have been made right at the beginning," Herft added to Australia's ABC radio, as reported by AAP.
"The couple have acted with gracious restraint in their exchanges, and they have every right to feel extremely angry. People expect a much higher standard and moral guidance from the clergy."
The controversy began two months ago, when McAuliffe found the expensive bracelet, belonging to restaurateurs Clyde and Lesley Bevan, in a local parking lot.
Clyde had given the bracelet as a gift to his wife for her birthday eight years ago, and she had accidentally dropped it in the public area.
McAuliffe, a former lawyer, took the bracelet to the police station, and after police officials were unable to track down the Bevans after two months, McAuliffe was legally allowed to claim the bracelet as his own property due to Australia's Criminal and Found Property Disposal Act 2006, which states a finder can keep an unclaimed item after two months.
Using the bracelet's engraved identification number, McAuliffe was able to track down the Bevans on his own, and reportedly sent the couple an email offering to sell them the bracelet for fifty percent of its worth.
He asked the couple to file an insurance claim for the bracelet and then award him fifty percent of its value.
"As you have thus lost ownership of the bracelet, you have a valid claim against your insurer for its insured value. On the basis that equality is equity, I would be prepared to sell it to you for 50 per cent of its insured value," McAuliffe said in the email, as reported by The West Australian.
Clyde Bevan told The Huffington Post on Wednesday that he believes McAuliffe's behavior was "amazing and bizarre," and he is thankful to the media for bringing attention to the story, saying that they are the ones responsible for causing McAuliffe to eventually return the bracelet.
"If it wasn't for the media asking probing questions and basically chasing him down the street with cameras, it wouldn't have happened," Bevan told The Huffington Post.
Bevan said his faith in clergy was restored when other priests offered to pay for the bracelet if the reverend decided to not return it.