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First there was #ACNAtoo; then came #ACCtoo. Where is #TECtoo?

First there was #ACNAtoo; then came #ACCtoo. Where is #TECtoo?
The time is now for The Episcopal Church to give a survivor's voice to its sexual abuse victims

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
March 9, 2022

This is the age of the #MEtoo movement where victims of sexual violence, abuse and harassment have found their voice and a safe place to vocalize. The #MEtoo movement gives victims a voice to be heard, a place to tell their unique stories, and a way to safely vent their frustrations and deep pain.


In 2021 rumors rippled around Bishop Stewart Ruch (I ACNA Diocese of the Upper Midwest) for failing to reveal to his diocese alligations of child sex abuse leveled against Mark Rivers, a catechist, at Christ Our Light Church, an ACNA church plant in Big Rock, Illinois.

The Religion News Service reports: "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."

Bishop Ruch kept this information away from the diocese since the alleged abuse incidents took place in private homes and on private property and not on church property nor at church events.

Since the police were involved and Rivera was arrested the bishop assumed that the civil criminal proceedings were sufficient because the inappropriate sexual activity did not occur on church property so the Bishop did not make his diocese aware of Rivera's legal problems.

"I made regrettable errors in this process," Bishop Ruch admitted about keeping the diocese out of the loop as Rivera's case wound through the court system.

As a result Bishop Ruch was forced to take a leave of absence and #ACNAtoo was launched in response to the pleas of survivors of sexual abuse and their advocates.

#ACNAtoo describes itself: "As a survivor-centric advocacy group, we advocate for survivors of abuse in the ACNA, hold ACNA leaders accountable to implement survivor-centered policies, and educate everyone on the dynamics of spiritual & sexual abuse and how to best prevent & respond to abuse in the church."

Using pseudonyms Clarke, Amber, Lily, Carol, Joanna and others have told their survivor stories about their encounters in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest. Angela and Laura recount similar tales and ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh.

#ACNAtoo also keeps readers updated on unfolding news.


Sexual abuse victims of the Anglican Church to the north -- the Anglican Church of Canada -- are finding their voice through #ACCtoo's new website.

"#ACCtoo seeks justice for survivors of sexual abuse and reform in the way that the Anglican Church of Canada responds to survivors," the website says. "We choose to hear the truth of survivors' experiences; we choose to become people who are ready to listen. And we call on the Church to do better. Please join us."

The #ACCtoo website is taking the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and The Anglican Journal (AJ) to task for failing to protect the identity of abuse victims.

An open letter of was penned to Archbishop and Primate Linda Nicholls; General Secretary Alan Perry and members of the Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada; and to the Anglican Journal Board calling for three actions in reparation: 1) the release the unredacted findings of the investigation to a representative chosen by the survivors;
2) require the resignation of the ACC church official who circulated a draft of the Anglican Journal article to four institutions outside the General Synod office; and
3) submit an apology for publication in the Anglican Journal that summarizes the investigation report, confesses wrongdoing, and presents a plan of action that is a worthy beginning of repentance.

"In spring 2021, preparation of the Anglican Journal article was going according to plan," Religion News Service explains. "To protect survivors from backlash, Anglican Journal staff agreed that the article wouldn't name the people or institutions implicated in their stories and would use pseudonyms for two of the three survivors. The newspaper also told survivors they could review the story before publication."

But apparently that didn't happen as planned and the end result was that the names of the alleged abuse victims were made known to the four Anglican Church of Canada institutions where the misconduct allegedly took place.

"On March 7 the Anglican Journal published an article on #ACCtoo by Sean Frankling," #ACCtoo posted on its website. "The article confirms various details of our open letter and states that #ACCtoo is on the agenda for the next meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS), which starts Thursday, March 10."

"The letter appeared last month on the website of a group calling itself #ACCtoo," the Anglican Journal explained in a story posted March 7. "It (the letter) refers to an early draft of a scrapped 2021 Anglican Journal article on the topic of alleged sexual misconduct in several church institutions which staff shared with senior church management after being asked to do so and after assurances it would not be shared more widely."

"We therefore share the survivors' shock that the ACC broke these promises, abandoned their duties of confidentiality, and failed to care for the survivors' privacy," says #ACCtoo's letter. "We believe that the AJ staff provided this list under duress, and only after being assured the draft would not be circulated to the four institutions involved. We understand that a high-ranking official of the ACC then chose to send the draft outside of the General Synod office to each of these four institutions."

Even though #ACCtoo does not fault the Anglican Journal directly, heads rolled as a result of the Anglican Church of Canada's failure to keep the newspaper's assurance of confidentiality. Last year Anglican Journal editor Matthew Townsend and staff writer Joelle Kidd turned in their resignation papers following the incident.

The incident and #ACCtoo's open letter is now on the agenda for discussion when CoGS meets later this week.

"The Council of General Synod (CoGS) is slated to discuss this week an open letter claiming senior church officials failed to protect the identities of alleged victims of sexual assault," Sean Frankling wrote in his latest Anglican Journal story.

I am aware that whenever the Church fails, individually or systemically, the resulting harm and pain is devastating, "Archbishop Linda Nicholls wrote in response to #ACCtoo's letter. "At the outset I must acknowledge that this has been a painful incident for all involved but especially so for the sense of betrayal felt by the sources for the article and for the journalist and editor who felt it necessary to resign. Although we may, and must, learn much from this incident it cannot erase the harm done. We are committed to ensuring that it does not happen again and ensuring the integrity of our journalistic practices now and in the future. It was never intended that the article not be published."

"The Primate's response does not address our three calls to action, nor does it identify any misrepresentations in our open letter," #ACCtoo responded. "If the leadership of General Synod believes there are any misrepresentations in the open letter, we would encourage them to name them, privately or publicly, so that they can be corrected."


There is no #TECtoo website to give Episcopal survivors another voice and seeking justice and reparation as a result of sexual abuse and misconduct.

The only "tectoo" Internet website belongs to a "cutting edge architectural studio based in Milan, Italy with international expertise" and it is in no way associated with The Episcopal Church.

But The Episcopal Church does not have clean hands when it comes to dealing with abuse.

Three recent abuse incidents immediately come to mind: 1) Defrocked Episcopal priest Howard White for his sex crimes in New Hampshire, West Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. He is now serving 12 years in prison for his sexual sins; 2) the sexual Senior Salute at St. Paul's School in Concord which robbed younger, underage underclasswoman of their virginity; and 3) the former pedophile Roman Catholic Benedictine priest Bede Parry who was received into the Episcopal Church and given priestly faculties by Katherine Jefferts Schori and placed in a Nevada church with a school.

There must be other #TECtoo stories out there, which are not being identified through the officially church-sanctioned Title IV process. These hidden #MEtoo stories might come to light if survivors were given the anonymity and the chance to have their stories told in their voices heard.

My own #MEtoo story

Unfortunately, I too have a #MEtoo story.

I was raped while in college.

It was a horrific experience. I was thrown against the wall and could not use my arm to lift a fork, much less a prayer book, for months. I still couldn't lift anything heavy for more than a year.

I remember when talking with a priest after the event that he said to me: "You know you can't cut the guys balls off."

told him: "I wasn't thinking that low, Father, just a little bit higher. Just so that he has to sit to pee the rest of his life; and a rusty razor blade would be a nice touch."

At the time a well-known and respected Episcopal priest told me: "Since you have lost your virginity, you have nothing to offer God."

That priest is long long dead, and I have forgiven him for his comment. However, it totally changed the trajectory of my life. I would not have become a journalist otherwise; I would have sought a life of service in the church. My life would, in all likelihood, be much different.

It wasn't until years later that a priest -- a Roman priest -- finally said that I had not sinned rather I was sinned against. He said my virginity was "stolen" from me and that I did not "give it away." Thankfully he put things into a spiritual perspective.

Even writing about this now, more than 50 years later, brings tears to my eyes.

All those years I carried the guilt and shame and humiliation of that unwanted sexual attack. I never even told my Daddy. To the day Daddy died he never knew what happened to his little girl in college.

Many of us, more than you would realize, have #MEtoo stories, and many times the sexual victim -- male or female -- is too humiliated and too shamed to say anything times thinking that they are the only one.

Yes, I have forgiven the rapist. I had to because the Lord taught in His Prayer: "... and forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." But the memory remains. True, it's not as acute as it was but it's still there. I can only pray death removes it.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline.

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