The Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest Was Outplayed by #ACNAtoo and Is Finally Forced to Deal With Abuse Victims in Their Midst.

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Woman With Red Hair, Crying

“How about we never talk about what happened and why I feel the way I feel. We just pretend that everything is fine and I just scrub myself red every night, allowing my mind and body to retreat into oblivion. Yup sounds like the perfect plan.” ― Astrid Lee Miles, Recovering is an Art


I’m not sure of how and where to start this post. Let me first talk about Twitter. I have a number of people following me and I follow quite a few, but far fewer than the number of followers. Please do not assume that I see everything on my timeline or even in notifications. As those with busy Twitter accounts will agree, it is next to impossible for me to keep up with everything in that forum. At the same time, it is the place where I often learn information. Unfortunately in this instance, I did not see the Twitter threads. Most likely this was due to being way busier than I could have ever imagined.

What I would ask is this. Do not assume I see everything on Twitter. Also, sometimes it is difficult to follow a Twitter thread, especially an important one in which a survivor victim is describing a painful situation of abuse that involves a church or a denominational hierarchy. I apologize for not catching this situation earlier. However, as events have evolved, I am impressed by a group of people who have already impacted their denomination.

The Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest and abuse victims.

Here is the post that I wrote in which it appeared to me, at the time, that things were being handled. The Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest Makes Plans for an Independent Investigation of Their Actions Surrounding Accused Predator, Mark Rivera

As it now appears, things were not handled well whatsoever. A series of missives from Bishop Stewart Ruchs (who is both a pastor of the Church of the Rez and the leader of this section of his denomination) appeared to indicate that it was more and more likely that some of the leaders, including Bp. Ruchs, may have poorly handled the survivors/victims who reported their sad stories to them. To make matters worse, it appears that a number of members of these churches involved may have contributed to the pain of these folks. It seems that many of them adored Mark Rivera, a catechist. Marko (as he signed some emails) appears to have been a classic groomer. It is now apparent that he fooled families and the diocese.

Last night, a new update appeared on the diocese website: Bp. Stewart’s Important Letter to Diocese on Investigation He has decided to take a leave of absence.

Dear Upper Midwest Diocese,

Throughout my ministry I have sought to live in full submission to the Lord, His Scriptures, and the Church. Significant concerns have been raised about my response to allegations of abuse in our former diocesan congregation, Christ Our Light of Big Rock, Illinois. I understand that my leadership and my handling of these allegations have been called into question.

I want you to be able to trust me as your bishop and pastor. I feel like the best way to walk in integrity now is to step aside as this process moves forward and as efforts are made to serve any survivors of abuse. Therefore, I have requested permission from Archbishop Foley for a temporary leave of absence during the investigation, and he has granted that request, effective today. I am submitting myself to Archbishop Foley and the ACNA leadership. More details will be forthcoming from the Archbishop’s office and the Bishop’s Council (our diocesan board).

So what happened here? #ACNAtoo happened!

I cannot say this enough. When victims take their stories to social media, they suddenly get noticed. Heather Griffin, an ACNAtoo volunteer wrote Why #ACNAtoo? Here are some highlights.

They are joined by their advocates, friends, and current and former members of ACNA. Like #MeToo, #ChurchToo, and #SBCtoo before us, we seek to make the voices of survivors heard so we can learn from their stories and serve them well as they pursue recovery and justice.

We also seek to prevent the unspeakable pain they have experienced from ever happening again at the hands of ACNA leaders or members. We hope to always be a people that are learning and growing in wisdom in Jesus so that we can be wise in preventing abuse when possible. When a predator manages to sneak through even our most vigilant defenses and abuse tragically occurs, we want to care for survivors well and provide them with the care that they need. We also know that many ACNA members are survivors of abuse perpetrated outside of ACNA. We want to listen to them, learn from what they have to say, and serve them well.

When survivors do report abuse, we want to see policies in place to make sure that the allegations are investigated in ways that make it safe for unknown victims to come forward. We want to make sure that leaders who feel threatened by what the investigation might reveal about their own choices or those of their friends do not have control over the investigation or its final report. We want to make sure that the first concern of any diocese that receives a report of abuse is to prioritize the well-being of the survivors of abuse rather than protect the reputations of church leaders and institutions. We want our ACNA leaders to respond to allegations of abuse not as “legal challenges” but as a call to embody the character of Christ to all those involved.

…I also know that some of you are confused and are not sure who to believe. Believing the survivors might mean that you have also believed things about people that you love that you do not want to be true. The things that you are hearing from survivors may not seem consistent with the best experiences that you have of them or your knowledge of their sincere good intentions.

Please take time to read the whole letter. She speaks well.

The accusations against Rivera

Religion News Services/Bob Smietana posted Prominent Anglican bishop takes leave of absence amid ongoing accusations of mishandling abuse allegations. He takes a look at the accusations.

Bishop Stewart Ruch III of the Anglican Church in North America’s Upper Midwest Diocese had known since 2019 that former lay minister Mark Rivera had been charged with felony child sexual abuse. But he did not tell people in his diocese about the abuse allegations until last month — which Ruch has called a “regrettable error.”

…At least 10 survivors’ allegations of abuse by Rivera have been reported to the diocese since 2019, with allegations including rape, assault, child sexual abuse and grooming.

According to a letter from Ruch in May, Rivera attended Church of the Resurrection — the diocesan headquarters — in Wheaton, Illinois, from the mid-90s until 2013. According to one victim’s mother, he also served as a prayer minister, preschool volunteer, youth leader and small group leader.

From 2013 to 2019, Rivera was lay minister at Christ Our Light Anglican, an ACNA church plant in Big Rock, Illinois, many of whose founding members were from Church of the Resurrection.

The victims do not wish to participate in an investigation by Grand River Solutions.

The diocese has apparently contracted with Grand River Solutions but the victims do not feel this group has the necessary qualifications. I’m inclined t agree with them. It is vital that this investigation be handled by trauma-informed investigators who are skilled at working with and caring for victims of all ages. The investigation is necessary but it must be performed by skilled organizations like G.R.A.C.E.

Following the announcement, Rudenborg and a team of survivors and advocates expressed concerns about Grand River Solutions’ investigative approach. Rudenborg said the firm lacks experience in trauma-informed care for victims and their families and has ineffective outreach strategies for finding other potential victims.

After speaking with Grand River Solutions, Rudenborg and the 9-year-old victim’s mother emailed Ruch declining to participate in the investigation.

Scot Mcknight who is ordained in the Anglican church expressed his dismay.

“It took too long to inform the churches involved, the families involved,” said Scot McKnight, an ordained Anglican and author who co-wrote a 2020 book about abuse of power in the church.

“They did not try to find all instances of sexual abuse. They did not incorporate the survivors into the process so that they would know what was going on and what was needed to be done,” said McKnight.

“I’m disheartened by ACNA at a profound level. If ACNA does not handle this case with Stewart Ruch right, ACNA will never recover,” he added.

Here is the Twitter thread by the mother of the 9-year-old child that caused me to be deeply concerned with the response of the diocese.

Here is a link to that Twitter thread.

The following is deeply disturbing to me on many levels. I called the Church of the Rez yesterday. At this point, the diocese is not commenting on anything. However, today, I sent an email to the dioceses containing three questions. One of those questions regarded the apparent support of Mark Rivera by the leaders in the diocese. It is alleged that the church/diocese assisted him in getting funding for a *good” lawyer.” I wondered if similar assistance was given to the victims.

I also asked if the diocese had folks sit with Rivera during his arrest and subsequent charges while not giving the victim’s family similar support. Perhaps this alleged action is the most disturbing of all. This appears to be the actions of a denomination that has been asleep at the wheel when the #churchtoo movement was gaining national support. They must have missed the SBC’s spanking on the world stage for their awful history of sex abuse in the pulpit. Were they merely waiting for their own embarrassing revelations? Well, here it is!

Here is the Twitter thread by joanna Laurel who was molested by Mark Rivera. (This has been shared on the RNS article as well.) Again, this causes me to think that the diocese has not been in the hands of those who truly care for the abused.

I guess what upsets me the most is the fact that this victim has to tell her story on Twitter because no one was listening at the diocese. Yesterday I called the diocese headquarters. The message on the machine said something like “I will be away until the following date.” It looked like no one was home.

There is so much more to say but this post is getting long. I’m quite sure TWW will be writing more in the days and weeks to come.

Thought for the victims

  • Keep up the website.
  • Love the website!
  • Add stories as they arise.
  • You all are incredibly brave.
  • You have already made a difference. Bp. Ruchs has stepped down.
  • Keep up the pressure. Say/write something each day.
  • We are listening.
  • #ACNAtoo
  • Please let us know if we can help.

Thoughts. for the ACNA

  • Get Scot McKnight involved and listen carefully to what he says.
  • Do what Scot McKnight says.
  • The ACNA is on a precipice. Make sure you take your next steps very carefully.
  • Consult the victims. They know what they are talking about.
  • Get real help so you can help the victims.
  • Get trauma-informed specialists involved.
  • Make sure that the victims have people who they can trust who are available 24/7.
  • Stop sitting on the side of the abuser.
  • Sit with the victims.
  • Be prepared that this revelation is going to get harder before it gets better. It should have been handled much sooner.

My prayer is that the diocese will finally get it and that the victims will find some peace as they go through this heart-wrenching experience.

#ACNAtoo


Comments

The Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest Was Outplayed by #ACNAtoo and Is Finally Forced to Deal With Abuse Victims in Their Midst. — 106 Comments

  1. Dee, you wrote:

    “The diocese has apparently contracted with Grand River Solutions but the victims do not feel this group has the necessary qualifications. I’m inclined t agree with them. It is vital that this investigation be handled by trauma-informed investigators who are skilled at working with and caring for victims of all ages.”
    Would you please give your reasons for suggesting that Grand River Solutions is not adequate to handle the investigation?

    On their website, on the tab showing their “Team,” scrolling down, one of the “Senior Solutions Specialists” has this in her resume: “She has conducted thousands of trauma-informed interviews that are comprehensive and inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations, and is known for maintaining a communicative atmosphere of respect, trust and empathy while attending to the rigorous task of gathering and interpreting information.”

    Here’s a different one: “Her investigations have encompassed all matters related to employment law and corporate compliance, including Title IX ,Title VII, Title 20 of the US Education Code and have included: sexual assault and sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment (all protected classes) retaliation, workplace violence, conflicts of interest and ethics, disability and accommodation, retaliation and whistleblowers, defamation, leave of absence, wage and hour, and health and safety.”

    Another: [She] “also served as the complaint resolution officer at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) where she conducted Title IX investigations for student and faculty populations.”

    Another: [She] “has a service-focused and proactive approach in matters relating to special education and disability discrimination, sexual misconduct and discrimination, free speech and expression, trauma-informed and restorative practices, and school safety and climate.” [Her] “experience includes collaborating with the Pennsylvania School Board Association on discrimination, harassment, and trauma-informed approaches to education.”

    This one has a doctorate: “During [her] 13-year tenure at UNC Asheville. . . [she] successfully resolved more than 500 sexual misconduct cases with a recidivism rate of just 2%.”

    Another: “She has extensive training in sexual violence cases, and is certified in the FETI technique of trauma interviewing.”

    Last one: “As a student leader, she spearheaded the opening of the Stetson University College of Law food pantry. [She} also established herself as a standout in Stetson’s #1 nationally-ranked advocacy program. She celebrated championships in mediation and client counseling.”

    Those examples were among the rank-and-file. One of the two Managing Directors is described with this: “A passionate advocate for meaningful, effective solutions to interpersonal violence, her intimate understanding of the needs of students, faculty, and staff enables her to address highly sensitive issues among and across the diverse communities found on campuses.”

    It sounds like a pretty impressive company.

    Would it not be an advantage to victims for the church/diocese to hire a secular company, so as to avoid the criticism that the investigative company cared too much about protecting a Christian institution?

    I’m not trying to attack or re-traumatize the victims, but to point out some things that seem relevant to this subject.

    Also, you wrote an entire post regarding your concerns with the new leadership of G.R.A.C.E. — have you found out anything that answers those concerns? It seems puzzling that you would raise those issues and then turn around and again recommend that organization.

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  2. Kudos to the folks behind the ACNAtoo website. As a fellow ACNA member, I’m glad they kept Bishop Ruch and the leadership of his diocese from sweeping this matter under the rug.

    However, I must respectfully dissent from your endorsement of Scot McKnight as a leader in moving toward a solution. Yesterday McKnight issued a tweet linking Bishop Ruch’s judgment in the abuse cover-up to the bishop’s views on same-sex attraction. Those are completely separate issues. Both ACNA and GAFCON, a global organization of orthodox Anglicans, nearly split earlier this year over a letter from an ACNA aspirant regarding same-sex attraction. McKnight’s tweet was, at best, unwise.

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  3. As more and more more ‘Churches’ and denominations go into decline and attendance roles keep dwindling, they’ll wring their hands and ask WHY???
    It’s not rocket science, but they’ll try to make it rocket science rather than face up to the real issue of sex abuse in their ranks.

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  4. Marmee March: Grand River Solutions

    Solutions for whom?

    “Grand River Solutions specializes in providing … support services to K-12 schools and institutions of higher education.” (for the institutions)

    “We are committed to lowering the resource-intensive and monetary costs of compliance.” (for the institutions)

    “Grand River Solutions is committed to lowering the cost of compliance.” – (for the institutions, $$$)

    “Incident Response
    Grand River Solution’s team of experts responds rapidly to provide comprehensive support in times of need. Confronted with a major allegation? Concerned about the community impact? Is the perception of your office threatened? We work with stakeholders to deliver support and advice in times of need. If your Title IX or equity office needs expert support and needs it now, we can help.” (Help the institution, save $$$, damage control or perception correction)

    “Investigations 360: Comprehensive Investigation Support” (Support for whom?)

    “The benefits of engaging Grand River Solutions:

    “Incident Expertise. Our team members have served in leadership roles that include responsibility for managing high-exposure incidents.”

    Managing high-exposure incidents? Managing high-exposure incidents? Benefits for whom?

    https://www.grandriversolutions.com

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  5. Marmee March: It sounds like a pretty impressive company.

    Looking at their website, not really. Unless you’re an institution trying to hide or downplay & save $$$, save face regarding an “incident”, i.e., crime.

    A family friend is a high school principal. Late on a Saturday night he received a call at home from the head football coach, who had received a call from a parent whose son reported hazing that night on the team.

    The principal hung up the phone & immediately called local LE. They took up the case. Done. Except our principal friend noted that their high school became known in a nationwide video of a textbook example of the right thing to do about an “incident” (criminal activity), which in turn, exposed the fact that their high school had hazing going on among their star players.

    The principal? Completely stood by his decision to do the right thing from the get-go without the services of a PR org hiding/downplaying crime.

    Oh my, no “$olution$” to hide what became their high profile event where the predators got charged for their criminal activity after an impartial LE investigation, at no cost to the institution, fully paid for by mostly grateful taxpayers.

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  6. Marmee March: Specialists” … resume

    Epstein had a lot of folks with fancy resumes. Same with Weinstein, Cosby, Allen, etc.

    Training does not guarantee a moral compass. In regard to interview experience & research, what are the experts looking for? What are they hoping to achieve?

    Everything on the org’s website appears to seek to benefit the pocketbook & image of institutions. Admittedly so. At least the org is not hiding their intent and whom they serve.

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  7. Marmee March: You wrote- “Would you please give your reasons for suggesting that Grand River Solutions is not adequate to handle the investigation?”

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

    You clearly read part of the survivor’s statements before popping over to Grand River Solutions to defend their honor. Did you not read the part where they asked specific questions of the Grand River Solutions investigator?

    If you are capable of doing PR for Grand River Solutions by digging meticulously through their website and finding all the bright points in their sales pitch, you should be capable of hearing the VERY SPECIFIC CONCERNS detailed by the survivors of abuse about WHY the LICENSED PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR trained in trauma awareness who had spent months researching proper investigation policies so the diocese had a chance to do this right agreed with the survivor’s misgivings. “It is vital that this investigation be handled by trauma-informed investigators who are skilled at working with and caring for victims of all ages.”

    Since you must have been exhausted after all your work on behalf of Grand River Solutions, let me help you find the relevant portion of the survivor’s thread. I’ve pasted it below after my little shout out to our friends at GRS:

    Can someone please tell Grand River Solutions that they need to work on their damage control strategy as well as being more realistic about their limitations as a team?

    As with churches, Grand River Solutions, nobody cares about what you think you know or how sincere you are or how good your intentions are if you can’t listen to survivors. The conversations that survivors had with Cherie, no doubt a person with Very Impressive Credentials who is Very Passionate About Survivors could have been an opportunity for you to realize that you don’t know what you are doing in this area. If you were sincerely committed to doing this investigation well, you would have resigned and then sent your shiny team of impressive employees for training.
    You took the money anyway.

    Also, your PR intern is silly and transparent. More Marmee, less Smarmee next time.

    Next:

    May 7, 2021: A victim’s mother calls Grand River Solution’s head investigator.

    We learn that GRS:

    has no anonymous reporting option

    offers no victim support

    can’t guarantee victims aren’t named to the client (the Diocese)

    does no outreach to find victims

    The original tweet included a screenshot of a victim’s mother’s call notes which are transcribed below:

    Is there an option for victims to share a story while maintaining anonymity? Right now the only option that has been made available is to email your firm, which might inherently feel unsafe to some victims.

    No, the only option for reaching out is by email. “If someone is uncomfortable about disclosing their identity, they can just use a fake name and we won’t know the difference.”

    If new victims come to GRS, what support will they offer to them?

    They do not offer any support to victims. They simply refer participants to the church, for whatever support the church is offering.

    Are victims’ names kept confidential even from the church? How do you respond if your client desires to know the identity of a particular witness?

    They “typically” do not disclose names to the client, but she could do not guarantee they will keep names confidential from the diocese. I explained how a victim who has something to share about the church or its leaders will likely need assurance that their name will not be revealed to the diocese if they come forward. She said that anyone who wanted to remain anonymous could just use a different name, and the diocese would have no way of identifying them.

    Will you be intentionally reaching out to victims who have already been identified or do you only speak to those who email you? How will you find other victims? Are there any steps beyond Bp. Stewart’s announcement that will be made to reach known and potential victims?

    No, they will not reach out to anyone. Stewart’s letter to the diocese is the only means of reaching out to victims.

    How are they showing themselves as safe to known victims who may not feel safe speaking up?

    They are doing nothing.

    Grand River Solutions also:

    does nothing to show victims they’re safe to reach out to

    doesn’t know what will be included in the final report, as that’s entirely up to the Diocese

    has no protocol in place to ensure they don’t unintentionally compromise victims’ criminal cases

    The original tweet included a screenshot of a victim’s mother’s call notes which are transcribed below:

    How are they showing themselves as safe to known victims who may not feel safe speaking up?
    They are doing nothing.

    How will victims’ stories and testimonies actually be conveyed in the final report? Will you tell victims’ stories and give them a voice? What about any findings of institutional or clergy failures? Will those be specifically outlined and told in the final report?
    This is totally up to the diocese. “The client dictates all of what the final report includes and what is left out and how much detail we go into.” She would not confirm whether there was a plan for what the final report would include, but seemed to suggest that the diocese had not made a decision yet about how transparent to be.

    What is your procedure if someone reports a criminal offense to you? What steps do you take to ensure that your interviews or reports do not interfere with potential criminal proceedings?
    They “let someone know” if a crime is disclosed to them, but do not take any steps to protect against interfering with criminal proceedings. They assume that anyone who shouldn’t talk to them, because doing so would jeopardize their criminal case, will not reach out. “Most people in that situation will not even reach out to us,” she said.

    I explained that someone disclosing abuse for the first time will likely not know that they need to be careful who they talk about and asked if they would at least stop someone, as soon as they disclose abuse, and direct them to the proper channels. She said, “We do not offer any legal advice, “ and confirmed that they would keep doing the entire interview, even if someone disclosed abuse or a crime to them. They absolutely do not have any safeguards in place for this and they clearly do not understand that this is even something they need to be careful about.

    Has the diocese waived attorney-client privilege in this case?
    “I actually don’t know,” she said.

    Will final reports be shared with participating victims?
    Reports will only be released to the diocese.

    May 8, 2021: The victim’s mother and I each write emails to Stewart’s team informing them that we have interviewed Grand River Solutions, are horrified by the way their process fails to center (or even marginally protect) victims, and will not be participating in the investigation.

    The original tweet included two screenshots of emails. The first screenshot of the email from a victim’s mother to Anne Kessler is transcribed below.

    To: Anne
    Cc: Stewart Ruch, [NAME REDACTED] and 4 more
    My Withdrawal

    Dear Anne,

    After speaking with Cherie at GRS yesterday I regretfully need to formally end my participation in our collaborative efforts with the diocese. I communicated to all of you in February that I had serious concerns over whether anyone other than GRACE could safely carry out this type of investigation, which led to me specifically urging the diocese to hire GRACE, when they were safely able to investigate Mark. I also explained that hiring someone other than GRACE would likely mean I could no longer participate in this process, as it would make it inherently unsafe for me to do so. Sadly, my conversation with Cherie confirmed that the GRS investigation is not at all what we were asking or hoping for. Parts of it are actually the opposite of what we carefully outlined to the diocese as essential and non-negotiable components of a safe, independent investigation.

    One significant concern I would like to highlight is that GRS does not have any protocol or safeguards in place to protect against harming [NAME REDACTED]‘s case (or that of any new victims who come forward). This is gravely concerning, both for the sake of [NAME REDACTED]’s case against Mark, but also for any victims who might unknowingly open up to GRS. GRACE, in the instance of a new victim disclosing abuse would immediately put a stop to the interview and refer a victim to the proper authorities, to prevent any duplicate testimonies that could later be used to discredit them. GRS will not do this, and seem unaware that this is even a concern they should be aware of, which is frankly horrifying to me.

    There are many additional troubling things from my talk with Cherie that I have chosen not to go into detail about. We put a great deal of effort into explaining what essential things would allow for an investigation that’s safe for victims, both known and unknown; I honestly do not have the emotional energy to go through all of this in detail, to explain why GRS does not meet the non-negotiable requirements that we carefully outlined for you.

    I appreciate how hard you have worked on this, and for your desire to reach out to victims, but I need to formally express that I cannot support this investigation and I cannot take part in it. We indicated that this kind of investigation, if done wrong or carried out by an inexperienced firm, can do more harm than good for victims; I pray that is not the case here. I sincerely hope this investigation brings new victims forward and into a place where they can receive help and healing.

    Sincerely,

    [NAME REDACTED]

    The second screenshot of an email from Joanne to the email from a victim’s mother to Anne Kessler and team is transcribed below.

    Joanna

    To: [NAME REDACTED] Cc: Anne, and 7 more
    Re: My Withdrawal

    Dear Anne and team,

    [NAME REDACTED] and I have discussed her conversation with Cherie at length, and I echo her conclusions entirely. For the reasons she stated, I also will not be participating in the investigation or further collaborating with the Diocese on this, unless something changes significantly. Like [NAME REDACTED], I still hope the investigation brings forward other victims and sets them on a path to healing.

    Sincerely,

    Joanna

    Marmee March:
    Dee, you wrote:

    “The diocese has apparently contracted with Grand River Solutions but the victims do not feel this group has the necessary qualifications. I’m inclined t agree with them. It is vital that this investigation be handled by trauma-informed investigators who are skilled at working with and caring for victims of all ages.”
    Would you please give your reasons for suggesting that Grand River Solutions is not adequate to handle the investigation?

    On their website, on the tab showing their “Team,” scrolling down, one of the “Senior Solutions Specialists” has this in her resume:“She has conducted thousands of trauma-informed interviews that are comprehensive and inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations, and is known for maintaining a communicative atmosphere of respect, trust and empathy while attending to the rigorous task of gathering and interpreting information.”

    Here’s a different one: “Her investigations have encompassed all matters related to employment law and corporate compliance, including Title IX ,Title VII, Title 20 of the US Education Code and have included: sexual assault and sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment (all protected classes) retaliation, workplace violence, conflicts of interest and ethics, disability and accommodation, retaliation and whistleblowers, defamation, leave of absence, wage and hour, and health and safety.”

    Another: [She] “also served as the complaint resolution officer at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) where she conducted Title IX investigations for student and faculty populations.”

    Another:[She] “has a service-focused and proactive approach in matters relating to special education and disability discrimination, sexual misconduct and discrimination, free speech and expression, trauma-informed and restorative practices, and school safety and climate.” [Her] “experience includes collaborating with the Pennsylvania School Board Association on discrimination, harassment, and trauma-informed approaches to education.”

    This one has a doctorate: “During [her] 13-year tenure at UNC Asheville. . . [she] successfully resolved more than 500 sexual misconduct cases with a recidivism rate of just 2%.”

    Another: “She has extensive training in sexual violence cases, and is certified in the FETI technique of trauma interviewing.”

    Last one:“As a student leader, she spearheaded the opening of the Stetson University College of Law food pantry. [She} also established herself as a standout in Stetson’s #1 nationally-ranked advocacy program. She celebrated championships in mediation and client counseling.”

    Those examples were among the rank-and-file.One of the two Managing Directors is described with this: “A passionate advocate for meaningful, effective solutions to interpersonal violence, her intimate understanding of the needs of students, faculty, and staff enables her to address highly sensitive issues among and across the diverse communities found on campuses.”

    It sounds like a pretty impressive company.

    Would it not be an advantage to victims for the church/diocese to hire a secular company, so as to avoid the criticism that the investigative company cared too much about protecting a Christian institution?

    I’m not trying to attack or re-traumatize the victims, but to point out some things that seem relevant to this subject.

    Also, you wrote an entire post regarding your concerns with the new leadership of G.R.A.C.E. — have you found out anything that answers those concerns?It seems puzzling that you would raise those issues and then turn around and again recommend that organization.

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  8. Ava Aaronson: high school had hazing

    What a nightmare. It’s good that they involved law enforcement. I would add that everyone involved needs and deserves legal representation. Guilt and innocence are not automatically identified well by police, prosecutors, and courts. Victims deserve confidence that the predators will be punished, instead of random bystanders.

    I’m not sure that a public high school would be permitted to hire a PR firm anyway… although maybe a school district can do so. Around here, criminal incidents in public schools are addressed by school district administrators and law enforcement.

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  9. Ava Aaronson: They do not need a PR firm. Doing the right thing is excellent PR.

    American corporations hire PR firms to promote and protect their image. The American church has become a business in many places … a Christian Industrial Complex that has borrowed the ways of the world to conduct business. It’s never wrong to do the right thing … but if you don’t, your PR firm will put a positive spin on things.

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  10. Muff Potter: As more and more more ‘Churches’ and denominations go into decline and attendance roles keep dwindling, they’ll wring their hands and ask WHY???
    It’s not rocket science, but they’ll try to make it rocket science rather than face up to the real issue of sex abuse in their ranks.

    Churches consistently back the wrong horse. ACNA is the same fire, different dumpster.

    And from what I understand, ACNA isn’t all that big. The Roman Catholic Church and SBC can afford to bleed out for a while. ACNA? Not so much.

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  11. Marmee March,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    When several victims say they do not trust an organization, I choose to trust their instincts. Perhaps the organization did not send the right people to cause the victims to feel safe.

    Thank you for your review of the company. It does seem they have some impressive folks in the organization. However, if the victims won’t speak to them, there is a problem. Perhaps it is a lack of trust in the ACNA. which is the real problem.

    The ACNA chose this organization without consulting the victims. That lack of trust will need to be overcome in order to go forth. The history of the ACNA in regards to this problem means that this process won’t be smooth. I say listen to the victims.

    As for GRACE, I apologized for my response. I believe that they made a mistake by hiring Samantha. If you read my words, that concern has not changed. However, as I look at the history of GRACE, they have done well, very well. I believe that Samantha will do as she is directed.. She certainly did that in the past.

    As a Lutheran, I, along with Luther, believe that Christians are,at once, saints and sinners. That means all things will be tainted by sin. I have forgiven GRACE. I should have afforded them the same thing i afford myself each week during my service: forgiveness and understanding.

    At the same time, I ask for your forgiveness if I have said things that seem confusing. The situation harkened back to my terrible experience in an SBC church which, I discovered, is quite triggering to me.

    I hope this helps.

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  12. Ava Aaronson: “Incident Response
    Grand River Solution’s team of experts responds rapidly to provide comprehensive support in times of need. Confronted with a major allegation? Concerned about the community impact? Is the perception of your office threatened? We work with stakeholders to deliver support and advice in times of need. If your Title IX or equity office needs expert support and needs it now, we can help.” (Help the institution, save $$$, damage control or perception correction)
    As usual, well done, Ava.

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  13. Heather Griffin:
    Marmee March: You wrote- “Would you please give your reasons for suggesting that Grand River Solutions is not adequate to handle the investigation?”

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

    You clearly read part of the survivor’s statements before popping over to Grand River Solutions to defend their honor. Did you not read the part where they asked specific questions of the Grand River Solutions investigator?

    If you are capable of doing PR for Grand River Solutions by digging meticulously through their website and finding all the bright points in their sales pitch, you should be capable of hearing the VERY SPECIFIC CONCERNS detailed by the survivors of abuse about WHY the LICENSED PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR trained in trauma awareness who had spent months researching proper investigation policies so the diocese had a chance to do this right agreed with the survivor’s misgivings. “It is vital that this investigation be handled by trauma-informed investigators who are skilled at working with and caring for victims of all ages.”

    Since you must have been exhausted after all your work on behalf of Grand River Solutions, let me help you find the relevant portion of the survivor’s thread. I’ve pasted it below after my little shout out to our friends at GRS:

    Can someone please tell Grand River Solutions that they need to work on their damage control strategy as well as being more realistic about their limitations as a team?

    As with churches, Grand River Solutions, nobody cares about what you think you know or how sincere you are or how good your intentions are if you can’t listen to survivors. The conversations that survivors had with Cherie, no doubt a person with Very Impressive Credentials who is Very Passionate About Survivors could have been an opportunity for you to realize that you don’t know what you are doing in this area.If you were sincerely committed to doing this investigation well, you would have resigned and then sent your shiny team of impressive employees for training.
    You took the money anyway.

    Also, your PR intern is silly and transparent. More Marmee, less Smarmee next time.

    Next:

    May 7, 2021: A victim’s mother calls Grand River Solution’s head investigator.

    We learn that GRS:

    has no anonymous reporting option

    offers no victim support

    can’t guarantee victims aren’t named to the client (the Diocese)

    does no outreach to find victims

    The original tweet included a screenshot of a victim’s mother’s call notes which are transcribed below:

    Is there an option for victims to share a story while maintaining anonymity? Right now the only option that has been made available is to email your firm, which might inherently feel unsafe to some victims.

    No, the only option for reaching out is by email. “If someone is uncomfortable about disclosing their identity, they can just use a fake name and we won’t know the difference.”

    If new victims come to GRS, what support will they offer to them?

    They do not offer any support to victims. They simply refer participants to the church, for whatever support the church is offering.

    Are victims’ names kept confidential even from the church? How do you respond if your client desires to know the identity of a particular witness?

    They “typically” do not disclose names to the client, but she could do not guarantee they will keep names confidential from the diocese. I explained how a victim who has something to share about the church or its leaders will likely need assurance that their name will not be revealed to the diocese if they come forward. She said that anyone who wanted to remain anonymous could just use a different name, and the diocese would have no way of identifying them.

    Will you be intentionally reaching out to victims who have already been identified or do you only speak to those who email you? How will you find other victims? Are there any steps beyond Bp. Stewart’s announcement that will be made to reach known and potential victims?

    No, they will not reach out to anyone. Stewart’s letter to the diocese is the only means of reaching out to victims.

    How are they showing themselves as safe to known victims who may not feel safe speaking up?

    They are doing nothing.

    Grand River Solutions also:

    does nothing to show victims they’re safe to reach out to

    doesn’t know what will be included in the final report, as that’s entirely up to the Diocese

    has no protocol in place to ensure they don’t unintentionally compromise victims’ criminal cases

    The original tweet included a screenshot of a victim’s mother’s call notes which are transcribed below:

    How are they showing themselves as safe to known victims who may not feel safe speaking up?
    They are doing nothing.

    How will victims’ stories and testimonies actually be conveyed in the final report? Will you tell victims’ stories and give them a voice? What about any findings of institutional or clergy failures? Will those be specifically outlined and told in the final report?
    This is totally up to the diocese. “The client dictates all of what the final report includes and what is left out and how much detail we go into.” She would not confirm whether there was a plan for what the final report would include, but seemed to suggest that the diocese had not made a decision yet about how transparent to be.

    What is your procedure if someone reports a criminal offense to you? What steps do you take to ensure that your interviews or reports do not interfere with potential criminal proceedings?
    They “let someone know” if a crime is disclosed to them, but do not take any steps to protect against interfering with criminal proceedings. They assume that anyone who shouldn’t talk to them, because doing so would jeopardize their criminal case, will not reach out. “Most people in that situation will not even reach out to us,” she said.

    I explained that someone disclosing abuse for the first time will likely not know that they need to be careful who they talk about and asked if they would at least stop someone, as soon as they disclose abuse, and direct them to the proper channels. She said, “We do not offer any legal advice, “ and confirmed that they would keep doing the entire interview, even if someone disclosed abuse or a crime to them. They absolutely do not have any safeguards in place for this and they clearly do not understand that this is even something they need to be careful about.

    Has the diocese waived attorney-client privilege in this case?
    “I actually don’t know,” she said.

    Will final reports be shared with participating victims?
    Reports will only be released to the diocese.

    May 8, 2021: The victim’s mother and I each write emails to Stewart’s team informing them that we have interviewed Grand River Solutions, are horrified by the way their process fails to center (or even marginally protect) victims, and will not be participating in the investigation.

    The original tweet included two screenshots of emails. The first screenshot of the email from a victim’s mother to Anne Kessler is transcribed below.

    To: Anne
    Cc: Stewart Ruch, [NAME REDACTED] and 4 more
    My Withdrawal

    Dear Anne,

    After speaking with Cherie at GRS yesterday I regretfully need to formally end my participation in our collaborative efforts with the diocese. I communicated to all of you in February that I had serious concerns over whether anyone other than GRACE could safely carry out this type of investigation, which led to me specifically urging the diocese to hire GRACE, when they were safely able to investigate Mark. I also explained that hiring someone other than GRACE would likely mean I could no longer participate in this process, as it would make it inherently unsafe for me to do so. Sadly, my conversation with Cherie confirmed that the GRS investigation is not at all what we were asking or hoping for. Parts of it are actually the opposite of what we carefully outlined to the diocese as essential and non-negotiable components of a safe, independent investigation.

    One significant concern I would like to highlight is that GRS does not have any protocol or safeguards in place to protect against harming [NAME REDACTED]‘s case (or that of any new victims who come forward). This is gravely concerning, both for the sake of [NAME REDACTED]’s case against Mark, but also for any victims who might unknowingly open up to GRS. GRACE, in the instance of a new victim disclosing abuse would immediately put a stop to the interview and refer a victim to the proper authorities, to prevent any duplicate testimonies that could later be used to discredit them. GRS will not do this, and seem unaware that this is even a concern they should be aware of, which is frankly horrifying to me.

    There are many additional troubling things from my talk with Cherie that I have chosen not to go into detail about. We put a great deal of effort into explaining what essential things would allow for an investigation that’s safe for victims, both known and unknown; I honestly do not have the emotional energy to go through all of this in detail, to explain why GRS does not meet the non-negotiable requirements that we carefully outlined for you.

    I appreciate how hard you have worked on this, and for your desire to reach out to victims, but I need to formally express that I cannot support this investigation and I cannot take part in it. We indicated that this kind of investigation, if done wrong or carried out by an inexperienced firm, can do more harm than good for victims; I pray that is not the case here. I sincerely hope this investigation brings new victims forward and into a place where they can receive help and healing.

    Sincerely,

    [NAME REDACTED]

    The second screenshot of an email from Joanne to the email from a victim’s mother to Anne Kessler and team is transcribed below.

    Joanna

    To: [NAME REDACTED] Cc: Anne, and 7 more
    Re: My Withdrawal

    Dear Anne and team,

    [NAME REDACTED] and I have discussed her conversation with Cherie at length, and I echo her conclusions entirely. For the reasons she stated, I also will not be participating in the investigation or further collaborating with the Diocese on this, unless something changes significantly. Like [NAME REDACTED], I still hope the investigation brings forward other victims and sets them on a path to healing.

    Sincerely,

    Joanna

    This is one impressive comment. Your response indicates what i said earlier. Listen to the victims. It is obvious to me that there is a problem in this area.

    I wonder if Bp Stewart stepped aside because he senses the storm that is coming. ACNA has a real problem. They need to focus on the victims. It’s time for humility of their part. This humility needs to exceed that of the missives from Bp Stewart.

    I suggest that they look to what happened in the SBC.

    So glad you are commenting here. I was a little late to the party.

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  14. Max: The American church has become a business in many places … a Christian Industrial Complex that has borrowed the ways of the world to conduct business. It’s never wrong to do the right thing … but if you don’t, your PR firm will put a positive spin on things.

    This comment reflects my broken heart over the state of the church in America.

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  15. Jack: Churches consistently back the wrong horse. ACNA is the same fire, different dumpster.
    And from what I understand, ACNA isn’t all that big. The Roman Catholic Church and SBC can afford to bleed out for a while. ACNA? Not so much

    Great comment. Todd and I were discussing the same thing last evening. the ACNA had such a good presence, standing up against the abuses of the Episcopal Church. It would seem to me that they should be the first to understand victims.

    If you remember my story, I went to an ACNA church after leaving the abusive SBC chuch. The second week their I saw a pedophile who had just gotten out of prison. I wrote a note to the pastor. He got mad at me and said I couldn’t join the church until I reconciled with my SBC church. he said their pedophile was *just fine.* A couple fo years later the pervert did something and they threw him out of the church.

    Hmmm. maybe I need to tell this to #ACNAtoo

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  16. Jack: Churches consistently back the wrong horse. ACNA is the same fire, different dumpster.

    Good reply, more than one dumpster out there.

    Jack: And from what I understand, ACNA isn’t all that big. The Roman Catholic Church and SBC can afford to bleed out for a while. ACNA? Not so much.

    Have you noticed that the secular world has virtually zero-tolerance for the sex abuse of minors? Chester the molester gets caught, goes to court, and goes to the hoosegow for a good long spell.
    Why then do they (the authorities) get squeamish all of a sudden when it involves clergy and other high ranking ‘Church’ officials?

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  17. dee: This is one impressive comment. Your response indicates what i said earlier. Listen to the victims. It is obvious to me that there is a problem in this area.

    I wonder if Bp Stewart stepped aside because he senses the storm that is coming. ACNA has a real problem. They need to focus on the victims. It’s time for humility of their part. This humility needs to exceed that of the missives from Bp Stewart.

    I suggest that they look to what happened in the SBC.

    So glad you are commenting here. I was a little late to the party.

    Dee,

    Nobody’s gonna sweat it if you’re five minutes late to a party when we’ve all been pretty late to the party you helped get started years ago.

    Mad respect to the Queen

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  18. Heather Griffin,

    Do you know that I have my own #ACNAtoo story? When I left my SBC church, I started attending the Church of the Apostles in Raleigh and I saw a pedophile who had been recently released from prison. His wife taught my kids and knew he had been abusing kids for 30 years. They left California over it.

    I wrote the pastor to warn him. He told me that the parole officer said he was safe. I wrote him and said that 8 months in prison doesn’t cure a 30-year pervert. (He was wandering around the church by himself. ) He would not listen to me.

    he would not let us join the church because we needed to reconcile with our former awful SBC church so we left. We warned him again about the pedophile. A few years later they threw him out of the church due to “something.” This was documented by a local newsgroup as well.

    If you are interested in the story. I’ve written about it frequently. Here is one of many links.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/08/08/two-churches-don-cameron-the-pedophile-and-me-am-i-nuts/

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  19. Ava Aaronson: that is precisely their market niche, PR for K-12 schools & higher ed, which are experiencing allegations of “incidents”. Alleged criminal activity. Grand River promises to save an institution’s image and money.

    Thank you for pointing that out… I had not looked at the site. Victims are not the only ones poorly served or betrayed by the PR approach. Students who are accused of breaking rules (not laws) often get pulverized by educational institutions.

    One local example: a teen had his own prescription antibiotics in his locker, against zero-tolerance drug policies. The discipline was so harsh that he took his own life. After seven suicides in one high school, the district finally changed a lot of rules and policies. Its grand public displays of strictness were leading to a lot of candlelight vigils. I attended one, and it was horrible.

    This anecdote about a school might seem off topic, but it’s comparable to what goes on in power-mad churches, where people can be punished and shunned, while everything appears to be Biblical and winsome.

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  20. dee,

    Dee,
    Thank you for not making erroneous assumptions about my identity. I am a sometime reader of this blog, with no connections to GRS.

    Thank you also for trying answer my questions. I am glad you still have concerns about GRACE, but are willing to wait-and-see. We all should take that stance, in the absence of concrete details.

    Those of us on the outside can speculate about why an organization hiring a third-party firm to do an independent investigation would choose to hire the firm that they go with. Yes, it is a problem if the victims won’t deal with that firm. That would be sad. We may remember that not all victims may be known yet. Some of them may choose to speak with GRS. Certainly there will be other people whose input will be included in the review, so I would hope that victims who feel they can speak with the company will do so. Also, there may be questions of legal overlap, that is, what should someone involved with a criminal case say to a third party?

    I do hope you will take some time to consider what exact qualifications a third-party, independent investigation firm should have. What exactly does “trauma-informed” mean, for example? You may feel this is out of your wheelhouse, and that it’s enough to point to one company you trust. If so, I can certainly understand that and would not fault you for not taking on another lengthy project.

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  21. Friend: power-mad churches, where people can be punished and shunned, while everything appears to be Biblical and winsome

    Because, … image.

    @LeahRemini & @MikeRinder note on their Fair Game podcast that there are two things religious cults care about: $$$ and their image. Because, … power. What keeps their leaders in power & fuels the cult: keep the $$$ coming in as they project a false Hollywood worthy image.

    Note: the Grand Solutions website targets these two precisely for the org market they seek: protect image & save $$$.

    Nothing about protecting children & saving the innocent. Nada. Nope, just Protect & Serve: $$$ & image of institutions that pay Grand Solutions for their services.

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  22. Marmee March: Yes, it is a problem if the victims won’t deal with that firm. That would be sad…

    I am a sometime reader of this blog, with no connections to GRS

    Sad for whom? Is it possible the victims know exactly what they are doing and know the reverse, that it would be sad to “deal with that firm”?

    If you don’t officially represent GRS, who do you represent?

    Obviously, you don’t represent the victims because they don’t agree with your assessment.

    You are not honoring their assessment, with the I-know-better comment: “That would be sad”.

    A victim is a survivor is a witness of someone crossing their agency for evil. As the victim-witness now expresses agency about what would work for them, you also trample over their agency to tell what is best for them, because, for some unknown reason, you know better?

    The I-know-better “That would be sad” is not respecting a victim-witness. It is, however, landing on the Dark Side of trampling another’s agency & their personal authority, integrity & truth about what occurred. They were there. You were not, or were you?

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  23. Ava Aaronson,

    I haven’t looked at the website for G.R.A.C.E., so maybe theirs doesn’t resemble that of GRS, but aren’t they in the same business? Who is it that pays them, groups of victims, or the institutions? One would think that an organization that hires G.R.A.C.E. has an interest, besides in making things right for the victims insofar as they are able, also in keeping the ship afloat, rather than letting it be torn to pieces. Most organizations that have a problem with a crime happening in their midst, are full of otherwise good, decent people. Places like RZIM are more the exception than the rule. But those stories don’t make the news as much, and we all forget them sooner.

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  24. Marmee March,
    Who do you represent? Not answered yet.

    Who is comparing GRS to GRACE? (you are) Why?

    Who is “sinking ships”? (your words, why?)

    “Most organizations that have a problem with a crime happening in their midst, are full of otherwise good, decent people.”

    Good, decent people report criminal activity to LE for the DOJ. It’s also best financially: free & already paid for by taxpayers. (Unless it’s a cult, which normally hate LE.)

    So why the snake oil sales pitch for GRS? Snake oil because good, decent people can simply use the services of LE & DOJ. Which you could be in support of, since you have no connection to GRS. Savings for the institution, LE/DOJ work with victims, no loss for you with your non-connections.

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  25. Heather Griffin: As with churches, Grand River Solutions, nobody cares about what you think you know or how sincere you are or how good your intentions are if you can’t listen to survivors. The conversations that survivors had with Cherie, no doubt a person with Very Impressive Credentials who is Very Passionate About Survivors could have been an opportunity for you to realize that you don’t know what you are doing in this area. If you were sincerely committed to doing this investigation well, you would have resigned and then sent your shiny team of impressive employees for training.
    You took the money anyway.

    Sums it up. Right to the last sentence.

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  26. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): somebody goes public

    Then the PR firms, as in “public” relations, step in to silence (“heal”) the victims & protect (shine spotless) the image of the institutions harboring predators.

    With all the predators in churches, pulpit & pew, it’s a HUGE growth opportunity for PR firms: $$$.

    Everybody wins*:
    PR firms swimming in business
    institutions maintain spotless image
    predators keep their hunting ground
    victim-witnesses are “healed” into silence

    *Truth, integrity, & predator-free safe environments lose.

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  27. I agree they should have hired someone else and involved survivors in the process, and was unaware that they didn’t. I do want to say for clarity (as someone in the diocese not in official paid leadership but with more access than most) that I asked Fr. Eirik whether the firm they had hired was like GRACE, and he told me that they had been the first choice but wasn’t responding promptly. This was in the context of me having to report someone in leadership for inappropriate behavior (not abusive or predatory, but a yellow flag) which has been taken seriously and resolved.
    While I agree it is a conflict of interest for Fr. Eirik to be involved in the investigation and am relieved the Archbishop’s office has taken over, I would stop short of saying that he intended to just hire somebody to save face. I do not know who got to make the final call on hiring GRS or whether that was something he had a say in, but as someone with trauma history who had to report something triggering to Fr. Eirik, I felt heard, safe, and respected. From what I understand, it was the priest at COLA and Fr. William who didn’t want to report to LE, which is part of what prompted the internal review of Greenhouse and the choice to have Fr. Eirik take over Fr. William’s position of leadership in Greenhouse. I am not close to Fr Eirik, but from our interactions I think he is attempting to reform Greenhouse in good faith. I do know that they desired to hire GRACE.
    Dee (or others), do you know of firms similar to GRACE that would be preferable to GRS? I’m uncomfortable with how GRS frames their “solutions” but I genuinely don’t know who the other better options are. It seems that law enforcement was not taking action very quickly and maybe wouldn’t have done what GRACE can do.

    dee:
    Marmee March,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    When several victims say they do not trust an organization, I choose to trust their instincts. Perhaps the organization did not send the right people to cause the victims to feel safe.

    Thank you for your review of the company. It does seem they have some impressive folks in the organization. However, if the victims won’t speak to them, there is a problem. Perhaps it is a lack of trust in the ACNA. which is the real problem.

    The ACNA chose this organization without consulting the victims. That lack of trust will need to be overcome in order to go forth. The history of the ACNA in regards to this problem means that this process won’t be smooth. I say listen to the victims.

    As for GRACE, I apologized for my response. I believe that they made a mistake by hiring Samantha. If you read my words, that concern has not changed. However, as I look at the history of GRACE, they have done well, very well. I believe that Samantha will do as she is directed.. She certainly did that in the past.

    As a Lutheran, I, along with Luther, believe that Christians are,at once, saints and sinners. That means all things will be tainted by sin. I have forgiven GRACE. I should have afforded them the same thing i afford myself each week during my service: forgiveness and understanding.

    At the same time, I ask for your forgiveness if I have said things that seem confusing. The situation harkened back to my terrible experience in an SBC church which, I discovered, is quite triggering to me.

    I hope this helps.

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  28. Headless Unicorn Guy: While all the Christians around them who didn’t get victimized sing hymns and Praise God.

    Bingo. The organized church wouldn’t be in such a mess, if the pew was really concerned about reports of misbehaving by the pulpit. Putting your Sunday face on while others are being used and abused by church leaders – regardless if it isn’t in ‘your’ church – is not pleasing to God.

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  29. Marmee March: Yes, it is a problem if the victims won’t deal with that firm. That would be sad. We may remember that not all victims may be known yet. Some of them may choose to speak with GRS. Certainly there will be other people whose input will be included in the review, so I would hope that victims who feel they can speak with the company will do so.

    So, do you wait for more victims to come forward with the hope that they will want to speak with that company? In the meantime, what happens?

    Marmee March: Also, there may be questions of legal overlap, that is, what should someone involved with a criminal case say to a third party?

    This is a fascinating question. I would assume that some victims will apporach lawyers. At this point, I would be interested to learn if the churches involved have received any settlement demands. But that would remain private. I always suggest that victims both report their incident to law enforcement and seek out a lawyer in order to understand their rights. If the church is aware that victim is going to law enforcement, the victim whould ave some support if he/she wants it. But the offer should be made.

    Interestingly, many victims are hesitant to proceed with legalities and, instead, will ask for justice and support with the offending institutions. The church should always reprot abuse to law enforcement. I think that is why all of these third party groups have lawyers on their staff. All of the ones that I know do have lawyers.

    Once a lawsuit is in play, all contact with the victim is verboten. However, my guess is that others will not go in that direction. I have see that in other situations.

    It is absolutely vital that the offending institution offer counseling services. In my former church, this was on of the defects of their stupid, internal investigation. Counseling was not offered in the beginning which made the institution look really bad.

    Marmee March: I do hope you will take some time to consider what exact qualifications a third-party, independent investigation firm should have. What exactly does “trauma-informed” mean, for example? You may feel this is out of your wheelhouse, and that it’s enough to point to one company you trust.

    I have afew thoughts in this matter. Take a look at this Google search

    https://www.google.com/search?q=trauma+informed+care+training+for+churches&client=safari&rls=en&ei=Zx_rYMjQJpG6tAbT9IqQBw&oq=trauma+informed+care+training+for+churches&gs_lcp=Cgdnd3Mtd2l6EAMyCAghEBYQHRAeOgcIABBHELADOgcIABCwAxBDOgIIADoECAAQQzoFCAAQyQM6BggAEBYQHkoECEEYAFDEkAFY7rwBYLO-AWgBcAJ4AIAB9QGIAYoLkgEGMTIuMS4xmAEAoAEBqgEHZ3dzLXdpesgBCsABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz&ved=0ahUKEwiIoMz_utvxAhURHc0KHVO6AnIQ4dUDCA0&uact=5

    There are even more than this. I know individuals who have taken part in such training. Here are the five impt areas ot trauma informed care. You might find this explanation helpful.

    “The Five Guiding Principles are; safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment. Ensuring that the physical and emotional safety of an individual is addressed is the first important step to providing Trauma-Informed Care. Next, the individual needs to know that the provider is trustworthy.”

    http://socialwork.buffalo.edu/social-research/institutes-centers/institute-on-trauma-and-trauma-informed-care/what-is-trauma-informed-care.html

    Sometimes it might be helpful to engage individuals who are well known in the area and who victims trust. This should be done in collaboration with the victims. This individual might be able to act as a go between as well as a support to victims. I have seen a few instances of this happening. I think it might help.

    This situation is terribly difficult. Here are some of the areas that bother me.

    -Did the church or diocese support Rivera without offering similar support for the victims?

    -Were the congregations in which Rivera worked (as a volunteer-churches say this all the time but to me there is no difference bewteen a paid worker and a volunteer when it comes to the fact said person abused-the church is still responsible if they know about it) notified of the abuse? Did it really take years? Why? Surely any pastor would understand the implications of Rivera’s situation and would want to keep their congregations safe.

    – It appears that this situation might have caused some congregents to blame the victim. In some instances, it may have resulted in loss of fellwoship/camaraderie. The victim feels isolated and shunned. Did the pastor speak strongly from the pulpit and tell people to care for the victims and not blame the victims?

    I hope this helps.

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  30. Headless Unicorn Guy: GRS Spokeshole under cover as “Concerned Citizen(TM)”?
    Maybe even a GRS sock poppet?
    It’shappened before. A lot.

    Which then would be an outright lie from the get-go, and completely negates the integrity of all comments.

    What’s the work-around… relative of a GRSer typing? So no employment connections but that would be the connection. Neighbor?

    They do not answer who they represent.

    A work-around is lying. Not even clever.

    The stealth predator played the “poser” game, too. Apparently GRS supporters are in the same game, on the same team. No surprise they all work together.

    Can we blame victims for not wanting to be a part of this evil game? Most victims of church predation are seeking truth and truth tellers, NOT more people pretending, lying, workarounds, bait and switch, deception, another ruse, snake oil.

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  31. RN,

    Thank you for these updates — I’m also a layperson in the ACNA and this diocese and this has been tearing at me quite a bit. I’m hurting for those who have been abused and ignored, but am cautiously encouraged by some of the news from the past day or so. That GRACE was apparently a top choice is a good sign as well.

    Keep praying for and listening to victims, and also praying for as wisdom, repentance, and insight for the ACNA during this.

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  32. RN: I asked Fr. Eirik whether the firm they had hired was like GRACE, and he told me that they had been the first choice but wasn’t responding promptly.

    This keeps sticking out to me. I would be amazed if any such firm was unresponsive. If I were in charge of such an investigation, I would keep contacting GRACE if only to say they needed to check their messages or otherwise speed up.

    Do you know how many firms they interviewed for the work?

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  33. Can’t remember which letter but in one of the announcements Bishop Stewart said they interviewed 7. I was also surprised, my only thought is they have a lot of people reaching out after the publicity with SBC? I’m not here to say they did this perfectly, just that from what I was told, GRACE was a top choice, and that from my interactions with Fr. Eirik, it at least seems like he isn’t attempting to cover things up. He was immediately responsive to me and my situation and repeatedly thanked me for my courage in coming forward/ made sure everything was accurately recorded.

    Friend: This keeps sticking out to me. I would be amazed if any such firm was unresponsive. If I were in charge of such an investigation, I would keep contacting GRACE if only to say they needed to check their messages or otherwise speed up.

    Do you know how many firms they interviewed for the work?

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  34. DavidP,

    You’re welcome, I also have been cautiously encouraged. When I joined the diocese I was following #churchtoo closely; it’s painful for me to see it happening here… the church I first came to has been a safe space for me but the diocese apparently is not so much (the situation I spoke about was not at that church). But my hope is that overall, there are enough trauma-aware and cautious folks throughout the diocese (and in leadership) that things will go in a healing direction.

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  35. Ava Aaronson: You took the money anyway.

    Ava Aaronson:
    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    In the same room, sanctuary, the hunting ground where it all begins, as they drop their $$$ in the collection, keeping the business going.

    My sources are second- and third-hand, but in some horror fiction I’ve heard and read that “If you sit and watch bad magic doings and make no complaint, even if it’s just to yourself, you’re joining in and making yourself a part of it. It gives the bad thing Power over you.” Never mind supporting the bad thing with money or active/vocal participation.

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  36. Headless Unicorn Guy: If you sit and watch bad magic doings and make no complaint, even if it’s just to yourself, you’re joining in and making yourself a part of it. It gives the bad thing Power over you.

    A Christian speaker guy once said during college he wanted to research cults but his mom warned him against going into their “sanctuary” & getting caught up in, unawares, the occult.

    During Covid, watching preachers on Sunday mornings from home (lots, many opportunities online, remote, live), the mind control aspect to listening to a sermon became clear, for the 1st time, after all these years of sitting & listening to sermons.

    Be aware & beware. No harm in listening? Being in the audience? Just “attending”? Not so sure ’bout that.

    (BTW, the preachers all seemed to be following the same dress code. There must be a GQ published for preachers out there somewhere.)

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  37. Friend: This keeps sticking out to me. I would be amazed if any such firm was unresponsive. If I were in charge of such an investigation, I would keep contacting GRACE if only to say they needed to check their messages or otherwise speed up.

    Do you know how many firms they interviewed for the work?

    Transparency is paramount.
    Predation in churches is a stealth operation.
    Only complete transparency eliminates evil.
    Truth & transparency are what victim-survivor-witnesses seek. Anything less is a sham.

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  38. As similar things happened in an SBC church I was part of, when I started to tell some friends (in an elevator) what was happening, they told me that their child wouldn’t get caught up with the person doing the sexual abuse, because he was too smart.
    I was dumbfounded. They weren’t concerned at all.

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  39. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Roland Barthes who wrote the witty essay on “Plastic” panned religion for industrialising itself from Ignatius Loyola onwards.

    (Warning – the latter piece is in the same volume as one on Sade.)

    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Ava Aaronson,

    What I’ve seen over again since my childhood is bait and switch, followed by bait and switch. Out goes belief and prayer, in comes the megaphone and passivity.

    New improved over the new improved (which can’t have been so improved then can it).

    Industrialised people lose attention span, then knowledge, then intelligence, then morale, and then the moral capital they used to have.

    As I observed in one of my outfits, “first they stole our time and then they stole our personalities”.

    Many religious movements have turned their unwilling cuckoos’ nests into soporific agents provocateurs.

    RN: It seems that law enforcement was not taking action very quickly

    Shades of Feit, Lavigne, Bevi L’Acqua and Mulkearns. Someone in LE tipped off “Law” to get on a plane minutes before the subpoena got to his desk.

    There was overt political interference in the enquiries into one of our Primates about 20 years ago, which I was uneasy about even as I though it “nice”: more facts emerged since.

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  40. Ava Aaronson,

    Um, wow. I’m sorry that I looked so suspicious to you. I don’t represent anyone. Just me, myself, and I.

    Would a normal person say, “Oh, that’s great, spectacular!” When hearing about victims not wanting to work with an intermediary group? Or would they say something like, “oh, that’s too bad”? Because the situation has just gotten harder to resolve to everyone’s satisfaction. That’s all I meant.

    I am trying to learn what I can about these types of firms for my own personal reasons unconnected with this whole situation. I need it to be a secular firm. I was trying to ask questions within a context of, how do you know if a company is good at what they do or not? Are they honest? Above board? Sensitive yet accurate? Rigorous yet open-minded? Able to understand, say, a campus culture, and critique it in a way that’s helpful to the only people who can alter it?

    I’m not free to say more than this: a mother’s heart is going to wonder, what if, even while being thankful it wasn’t worse.

    It’s true that I didn’t read all the links in the article. I did later read the victim’s mother’s interview notes from her phone call (I guess?) with GRS, after someone pasted them into the comments, along with snark. I will keep a copy of some of those questions to maybe use. Some of the questions, though, seemed a little naive to me. What kind of ‘support’ would a victim want from an investigating or auditing sort of company? Did I miss something? I’d be looking side-eye at that, but maybe I’m too skeptical (jaded?).

    Maybe I will try to find out how a licensed professional counselor would define “trauma-informed” or what FETI certification means, and how rigorous that is.

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  41. dee,

    Dee,
    Thanks, I do really appreciate this. I will look at those links.

    As for some of your other thoughts and questions, yeah, I don’t know. It is distressing, but what situation of sexual abuse isn’t? It seems, if I’ve got the dates right, that law enforcement was involved, and Rivera was taken out of his position of lay leadership right away. Then the legal process dragged on, and that was before the pandemic started and made everything more complicated. This is all in, what, a district attorney’s purview? Then, more victims (all adults?) come forward, and ask for a third-party investigation. This is about a year and a half after the initial report to LE? Yeah, messy. I may not have all the facts and testimonies and assertions in there. Honestly, since I can’t be of any practical help to anyone in it, I haven’t read every single thing.

    I want to be prepared to make things better where I can, so that’s why I’m trying to learn.

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  42. Marmee March,

    Power differentials have to be watched in both secular and sacred situations (I’m surprised you hadn’t heard / understood this).

    Even when the legit church authority was on the side of the damaged parishioners, as I witnessed, interlopers sabotaged all potential good that could be done (which wasn’t going to involve a company anyway); so when the church authority is in question as in this case that is all the more likely.

    In churches which have ceased to believe in Holy Spirit power for living, it is a long shot to look for help within the system where the problem was caused (Godel’s theorem).

    Many nasty people use institutions as their hunting ground and quite a lot of dithery and wavering authorities haven’t the fibre to root this out / stand up to who is promoting it (my own secular schooling many years ago was in fact fraught also, but I don’t have to complete my time there).

    Churches don’t own a healing God and secular schools don’t own a healing cosmos. But they should fund something without strings attached.

    For your market research I think you need to read a GREAT deal more. Survivors have to have the absolute upper hand in their own assertion and advocacy: don’t start thinking your family member should negotiate that.

    Stop letting your family members down! Oh and EVERYBODY can alter campus cultures – and that is very hard to do. Some of your own questions and statements are “naive”.

    You stated: quote When hearing about victims not wanting to work with an intermediary group? Or would they say something like, “oh, that’s too bad”? Because the situation has just gotten harder to resolve to everyone’s satisfaction. That’s all I meant unquote

    Who do you (honestly) think will want to define “intermediary group”? “Just gotten harder” from you implies that is at the complainants’ door because – no – it hasn’t “just gotten harder”. Those to blame were the ones that made it hard in the first place. Please stop misusing words!

    You should place yourself in the shoes of those younger. You read here two days ago about that high school. Can your family member transfer somewhere where they will believe the reason? Is there “School Too” or some such? Has your family member joined that?

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  43. Wes: Investigators should not be advocates, either for victims/complaining witnesses, nor for offenders/respondents. Its not the role of an investigator to be an advocate: other offices and organizations properly fill that role.

    I have an issue with “hiring investigators”. Regardless the company – including “GRACE” – there’s always a conflict of interest with the one being investigated being the one paying the bills.

    Many companies will hire outside consultants and in some cases outside investigators but many companies also have a legal department (or representation) to ensure their policies are in compliance with applicable laws and standards – my company does.

    I was president, vice president and treasurer for the board of a non-profit child care centre. A volunteer position but it was our responsibility to ensure that the licensing was in order, we signed off on all policies and audits including workplace health and safety and employee benefits. We ensured the management team was qualified and staff were qualified.

    Our board was made up people from health care, trades and finance – none of us were lawyers – we did all our own research – taking our responsibility seriously. If we needed advice from a lawyer, we had a preferred firm to deal with. Fortunately that never happened but there were certainly legal implications when dealing with children, parents and the staff.

    We may have been small potatoes but we had a budget of nearly $300 000 dollars (oh yeah – we managed government grants too & special needs kids).

    So I fail to see how denominations and churches with boards and “elders” with huge budgets and cash galore fail to take care of the nuts and bolts of running an organization. Why? Because it’s a “church”? What – these elders can’t read the applicable rules and regs? The pastor who can natter on ad nauseum about points of theology can’t go to a website and download the applicable regulations regarding their roles and responsibilities to the laws that apply to their organization?

    This is a combination of laziness and hubris.

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  44. Marmee, a p.s., a seminary “gagged” students like my friend’s son knowing they were going get hazed. Well a group of them decided to make a noise anyway. (It’s no light thing to account for study years.) Now the culprits have decided to harass townspeople instead and might get promoted. Any amount of things are hard, but (allowing for differences between countries) almost always something is doable, however unexpected and inventive.

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  45. Jack: So I fail to see how denominations and churches with boards and “elders” with huge budgets and cash galore fail to take care of the nuts and bolts of running an organization. Why? Because it’s a “church”? What – these elders can’t read the applicable rules and regs? The pastor who can natter on ad nauseum about points of theology can’t go to a website and download the applicable regulations regarding their roles and responsibilities to the laws that apply to their organization?

    This is a combination of laziness and hubris.

    Exactly.
    Most who work regular jobs in industry, respect the law, and count on colleagues, up & down the chain, to follow laws in place. When something is off, that person is out. Period. Be it in regard to $$$/resources (theft or misuse of), abuse of power, or vice (sexual harassment & such).

    Exception being those working for the Mob.

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  46. Marmee March: Because the situation has just gotten harder to resolve to everyone’s satisfaction.

    To the satisfaction of the criminal committing the crime? Seriously? As well as the enablers & the groomed, who are complicit & need to deal with their part in evil, too?

    Is this a dispute needing arbitration or a crime that has been committed?
    Disagreement vs. criminal activity.

    Each time you make a comment, it comes from a position of normalizing crime (legal term), normalizing evil (biblical term). This is the POV of:
    1. a criminal, too, OR
    2. an enabler, complicit, OR
    3. a groomed community member, also complicit.

    The answer to criminal activity is not to resolve, but to remove.

    A predator needs to be removed to restore safe community.
    If the accuser is lying, then the accuser is the criminal & would then likewise need to be removed.

    When there is an accusation of criminal activity, that is the only question: What happened? There is either a liar (criminal) or a predator (criminal).

    With the amount of accusations in the church, there is apparently a lot of criminal activity in churches, lying or predation.

    https://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/investigations/abuse-of-faith/

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  47. Marmee, in the totality of reporting it is clear i, Ruch tasked GRS not to investigate his own crimes, ii, Ruch is going to publish what they “produce”.

    This means Ruch is going to give official status to their effective misrepresentations of all evidence given by witnesses to his own crime.

    A firm concerned about its reputation would have cancelled the job and made publicly known why, in order to exonerate itself from falling for his trickery. Its only part way out is to at its own initiative publicly impose new and fair terms of reference on Ruch – leaving questions why it didn’t do so some time ago.

    I am worrying about the position your family member has been put in.

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  48. Muff Potter,

    That’ll be the day. Good day for minors, children & youth.

    Separation of church & State? Not when an org (“church”) breaks the law. It’s an invitation for LE & the DOJ to do their job.

    Note the comment from Jack above, how an org should operate with transparency in a properly regulated society, in support of the Rule of Law and for the Common Good, with nothing to hide.

    Jack,

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  49. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Likewise, Dylan, back in the day with “Gotta’ Serve Someone”.

    Bait God & Switch to Cult of Personality Church, does attendee/participant know who/what they are expected to serve?

    The question. Always.

    Looong time ago, Christian friends, various, here & there got caught up in various groups, handing over everything, until they escaped.

    Regarding the group in this post, as always, do we follow another set of rules in church where predators and victims come to agreement?

    Agency, taken by predator from victim is then demanded/expected from victim by church & “investigators” to satisfy the predator?

    Everyone to be satisfied with results of inquiry or, is a crime a crime, a criminal a criminal?

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  50. Ava Aaronson: Note the comment from Jack above, how an org should operate with transparency in a properly regulated society, in support of the Rule of Law and for the Common Good, with nothing to hide.

    They [the CIC (christian industrial complex)], have an established pattern of wanting to exempt themselves from the rules non-religious non-profits must abide by.
    How long do you think the authorities would tolerate non-faith based non-profits to stonewall and cloak their operations?

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  51. dee,
    I’ve always thought of plagiarism as literary theft, rather than the spoken word. I’ve heard multiple sermons over the years where the preacher “borrowed” phrases here and there from others and never thought it to be too big of a deal. But to preach whole sermons as your own, without crediting the person who developed it is a concern.

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  52. Muff Potter: How long do you think the authorities would tolerate non-faith based non-profits to stonewall and cloak their operations?

    Actually, it’s a constant battle for truth & integrity. In the field of humanitarian aid, all the shiny branded do-goodism tends to cloak the underbelly of evil, where that exists. Even our former Dear Leader & his kids got away with their fake nonprofits & charities for a time, until caught, so they’re now forbidden from charity work.

    Like church, humanitarian aid is a mixed bag. Everything from one bad actor to systemic evil. Donor beware and be aware.

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  53. Ava Aaronson,

    What I had in mind is the fact that religious organizations both legitimate and huckster owned, do not have to file IRS form 990 which is designed for financial transparency.
    In other words and in the case of the hucksters, where is all that moolah going?
    Citizens who get no tax breaks and foot the bill for civilization would like to know.

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  54. Muff Potter: What I had in mind is the fact that religious organizations both legitimate and huckster owned, do not have to file IRS form 990 which is designed for financial transparency.
    In other words and in the case of the hucksters, where is all that moolah going?
    Citizens who get no tax breaks and foot the bill for civilization would like to know.

    This is an excellent point. One that Elron Hubbard was onto. “Start a religion to accumulate great wealth.” Or, something like that. It seems some are doing this under the umbrella of Evangelical.

    Some of the Dones are not so much even over church, but definitely over being identified as Evangelical. With good reason.

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  55. Ava Aaronson: This is an excellent point. One that Elron Hubbard was onto. “Start a religion to accumulate great wealth.” Or, something like that.

    The version I heard in LASFS oral history was “Writing for a penny a word is stupid. If you want to make a million dollars, START YOUR OWN RELIGION!”

    This was at a WorldCon in the late Forties. Dianetics came out within a couple years of that quote. According to another oral history, Dianetics itself grew out of a bar bet between Elron and John Campbell (editor of Astounding) at the same or another con of the period. (And Campbell did plug Scientology during the Fifties and early Sixties.)

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  56. dee,

    I used to work at a community college. College policy stated that the consequence of plagiarism (or other forms of cheating) was a zero on the assignment/quiz/test/etc. MANY professors took plagiarism so seriously they wanted to flat-out flunk a student from the class if one was caught plagiarizing, but weren’t allowed to invoke this severe of a consequence. (Unless the student was caught plagiarizing/cheating on something that was worth 40% of the final grade, like a final exam, for instance. Then a zero would naturally result in flunking the class.)

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  57. Max: I’ve always thought of plagiarism as literary theft, rather than the spoken word. I’ve heard multiple sermons over the years where the preacher “borrowed” phrases here and there from others and never thought it to be too big of a deal.

    Not to put too fine a point on it… were those sermons written out ahead of time and then read aloud from the pulpit (aka, literary) or were they impromptu speeches as inspired in the heat of the moment by the Holy Spirit (aka, spoken)?

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  58. Max: Those types of sermons in the American church are rare … because preachers who speak as they are moved by the Spirit of God are a rare and endangered species in the American pulpit.

    Max, “Moved by the Spirit of God” as Private Revelation is also the claim of CULT founders. In my church, Private Revelation (in the form of Marian Visions/”Mary Channeling”) is the characteristic way to flake out, and is responsible for most of our “Cults with Rosaries”. Just if you’re not Romish you channel from a little higher up the stream.

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  59. The ACNA has a much broader issue on their hands. I have several good friends who have had their concerns regarding the way that clergy (priests and bishops) have responded to abuse allegations. Bishop Hobby was forced to resign back in Oct 2020 due to mishandling sexual abuse allegations against one of the priests, and there was another Bishop who left due to sexual related issues. I have also experienced a bishop who told parishioners that they couldn’t talk about the abuse that they experienced.

    I have my own ongoing story of an ACNA church and diocese failing to report child abuse allegations and ignoring DV.

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  60. Micah:
    The ACNA has a much broader issue on their hands. I have several good friends who have had their concerns regarding the way that clergy (priests and bishops) have responded to abuse allegations. Bishop Hobby was forced to resign back in Oct 2020 due to mishandling sexual abuse allegations against one of the priests, and there was another Bishop who left due to sexual related issues. I have also experienced a bishop who told parishioners that they couldn’t talk about the abuse that they experienced.

    I have my own ongoing story of an ACNA church and diocese failing to report child abuse allegations and ignoring DV.

    Hi Micah!

    I am so sorry to hear that you, too, have a story of abuse. I also didn’t know about Bishop Hobby. Are you interesting in telling your story here? If so, email me at dee@thewartburgwatch.com I would also be interesting in learning more about Bishop Hobby.

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  61. dee,

    Hi Dee!

    Thank you. I’m still considering my next steps; the publicity has brought out some more of the leadership structure in the province. I’m glad for that.

    The RNS article mentioned Bishop Hobby’s resignation and Bishop Jackson’s defrocking. https://religionnews.com/2021/07/09/prominent-anglican-bishop-takes-leave-of-absence-amid-ongoing-accusations-of-mishandling-abuse-allegations/

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  62. I appreciate the comments from fellow ACNA members. I’m disgusted by what’s happened and hate that our denomination apparently hasn’t learned from the mistakes of the Catholic Church, Southern Baptists and others.
    Clearly we need better bishops. It’ll be interesting to see if the denomination survives this crisis.

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  63. What’s noteworthy about this is that the Episcopal Church will learn nothing — zero, nada, zilch — from #ACNAtoo.

    Indeed, I have now had five Episcopal bishops tell me that the will not deal with Bob Malm’s perjury absent criminal charges. (For those lucky enough to be unfamiliar, Bob is my former rector, now serving at St. Peter’s in Bourne Mass.)

    So far, none seem to recognize the irony of a church that says it “respects the dignity of every human being,” yet adheres to this standard of clerical conduct. That includes Alan Gates of Massachusetts, the most recent to tell me that he does not consider allegations of perjury to be problematic.

    Truly, the Episcopal Church is utterly ethically bankrupt. And it sees no connection between this attribute and its imploding fortunes.

    Lastly, with Dee’s kind forbearance, a shameless plug for my petition on Change.org. I’d be very grateful for signatures.

    https://www.change.org/abusivebobmalm

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