My #ChurchToo story thread:

This is a brief overview of how @MidwestAnglican / @ChurchRez has mishandled church leader sexual abuse and assault allegations for 2+ years and counting.

(I will write about my personal experience within the story in greater detail soon.)

who's who:

@The_ACNA: Anglican Church in North America under @ArchbishopFoley

@MidwestAnglican: 35-church ACNA diocese under Bp. Stewart Ruch

@ChurchRez: largest church & diocesan headquarters, Wheaton, IL

Christ Our Light Anglican Church (COLA): small church, Big Rock, IL
My neighbor Mark Rivera raped me twice, pressured me to keep this secret, and repeatedly propositioned me to have an affair.

Mark was the catechist (lay pastor) at Christ Our Light Anglican. My godfather, Rand York, was the priest. COLA members were my neighbors and friends.
The consent lines weren’t blurry. I was blacked out drunk. It’s possible Mark drugged me. Witnesses saw me incoherent.

He walked me home each time and raped me there. Since I formed almost no memories, he spun a story that I’d seduced him.

I was in shock. I believed his lies.
Mark told his best friend, COLA's senior warden and worship pastor Chris Lapeyre, about the first rape almost immediately.

Chris kept Mark's secret indefinitely and would later (November 2020) try to shame me into continued silence when he realized I was coming forward.
The first rape was in 2018.

In 2019, a 9-year-old in Mark's church told her mother Mark had been sexually assaulting her. A teenage girl also alleged assaults. Stories surfaced of predatory behavior spanning decades.

Mark said this was just Satan attacking the church.
@MidwestAnglican removed Mark from leadership in 2019 (one of few appropriate actions to date). But it was his victim's family that were forced out of the church. Church leaders and old friends at COLA and @ChurchRez rallied around Mark with financial, legal, and social cover.
A dozen+ allegations against Mark include unwanted touching, exposing teens to pornography, indecent exposure, sexual abuse, child sexual assault, attempted child sexual assault, and rape.

He's now awaiting trial for child sexual assault and under police investigation for rape.
Mark is out on bond in Winfield, IL, living with his wife and two minor children.

He’s under court order not to have contact with minors who aren’t his kids, an order he’s repeatedly violated.

His wife, who disbelieves the minor victims’ allegations, is his default supervisor.
Mark served in numerous roles in 2 @MidwestAnglican churches over a span of 20+ years.

Church and diocesan leaders knew of allegations against him 2 years ago and didn’t notify @ChurchRez members.

Another victim and I came forward last November. They still didn’t notify them.
Mark’s roles included youth leader, small group leader, communion minister, prayer minister, and most recently catechist (a lay pastor who serves communion, preaches sermons, and officiates the service in the priest’s absence).

He also mentored many church youth in his home.
Mark hid in plain sight for years, grooming girls, women, and the entire community to accept physical boundary violations no other male adult could have gotten away with. Every girl / young woman in the following photos is the daughter of a fellow church leader:
Mark had a longstanding habit of formally and informally adopting “godchildren.” He bragged about being godfather to dozens of children in the community, some of whom are now among those alleging grooming and abuse.
After the November 2020 allegations, Bp. Stewart Ruch finally suspended COLA operations.

He offered various parties “pastoral care,” including Mark.

To date, @MidwestAnglican will not pay for professional counseling for the 9-year-old child their catechist serially molested.
After the November allegations, Bishop Stewart also visited and prayed with Mark and his wife.

He also reportedly exorcised 10 demons from Mark, whose wife, we are told, then declared Mark much improved.

Then, nothing.
In January, a group of Mark’s victims and our advocates wrote Bp. Stewart begging him to enlist third-party help.

He assembled a committee from his staff and advisors to respond to us.

2 of the 6 members were himself and Canon Eirik Olsen, Fr. Rand's superior and close friend.
Fr. Eirik, Bp. Stewart, Fr. Rand, Mark, and other leaders directly implicated in this scandal (including Fr. Rand’s superior until late 2020, Fr. William Beasley) have all been professionally and/or socially intertwined for decades.

The conflicts of interest are staggering.
We asked the Bishop for an independent investigation to

1) find and help other victims
2) report in detail how the hierarchy failed victims and the community

We sought truth, accountability, and for the church body to learn to address and prevent grooming and abuse.
Investigations are inherently skewed when the entity being investigated is the one paying the investigator.

So we painstakingly explained to @MidwestAnglican what investigation parameters they needed to set to ensure actual third party independence.

They ultimately ignored us.
@MidwestAnglican hired investigative firm @GrandRiverSols on April 30 and announced the investigation launch online May 4.

Here is that announcement, which contains multiple still-uncorrected factual inaccuracies and several as-yet-unfulfilled promises:
The same victims whose advocacy led to this investigation have found ourselves forced to opt out of participating in it.

@MidwestAnglican's flagrant disregard for our most basic requests indicates we would end up like the victims @Boz_T refers to here:
The investigation’s fatal flaws are too numerous to cover here, but they follow a predictable pattern; see @R_Denhollander’s recent critiques of the #SBC's initial investigation proposal:
@MidwestAnglican has drastically downplayed both their own 2+ years of mishandling this and Mark’s long history with the Diocese. They also won't

1) commit to publish @GrandRiverSols' final report
2) set an adequate investigation scope
3) waive client confidentiality privileges
@GrandRiverSols has personally confirmed to us that the final report they compile will go to the Bishop, who will decide what to do with the information.

Mark’s victims and @MidwestAnglican’s congregations will only know what he chooses to tell us.

This is not accountability.
@GrandRiverSols couldn't guarantee us they will keep the names of victims who reach out confidential from @MidwestAnglican.

GRS also does no outreach. The Bishop's online letter and a single vague in-church announcement are being relied on to find victims going back 20+ years.
Despite our pleas, @MidwestAnglican has still not enlisted qualified professionals to assist victims who may come forward.

Parents have been given no guidance on how best to speak with children to discover possible abuse.

Nothing about this process is trauma-informed.
Thankfully, due to voices like @reachjulieroys, @R_Denhollander, @netgrace_org, and @BozT, we survivors had excellent tools to identify a sham investigation. This is one. We’ve told @MidwestAnglican so. They continue to shut us out while professing publicly to care about victims.
This thread doesn't begin to address the institutional enabling, mandatory reporting failures, pressure not to contact authorities, severe pastoral care negligence, or absurd levels of spiritual bypassing we've experienced.

That information will come out in time.
@The_ACNA leaders out there:

Your voice matters. Don’t let #ACNAtoo become the new #SBCtoo.

Educate yourselves. Listen to victims. Follow our lead. Ask @MidwestAnglican and @ArchbishopFoley why they are ignoring survivors while claiming to do their best to "be safe places":
DMs open to survivors, advocates, and media.

@DefendTheSheep & @writer_dee: tagging you as promised.

#SBCtoo survivors: Thank you for being such an inspiration these past few weeks. Much love also to #IStandWithSGMVictims and all #ChurchToo and #MeToo survivors 🕯️
tagging people who may be interested, part 2: @wartwatch @wademullen @ChristaBrown777 @UT_Grad_Amy @JimmyHinton12 @juleswoodson11 @NotinOurChurch1 @pbjanci @ShannonDingle @rachelpeach15

@emilyjoypoetry: this is the denomination Ray Ortlund just moved to…

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