As a suburban Chicago ACNA church moves forward with examining sexual abuse and leaders’ responses, critics worry the process hasn’t been independent.
As investigations into sexual abuse and abuse of church power get underway in the Anglican Church in North America’s Upper Midwest Diocese, at least five individuals who say they experienced sexual or spiritual abuse in the diocese say they will not participate in one or both of the investigations due to concerns about transparency.
In an announcement by the 13-year-old denomination on Sunday, survivors of abuse were given information about how to contact two firms, Husch Blackwell and Telios Law Firm, that will conduct parallel investigations into sexual abuse and abuse of ecclesiastical power, respectively. The denomination also furnished a number for ACNA’s confidential support hotline and said that there is a fund to assist sexual abuse survivors.
But the announcement did little to answer accusations from a group called ACNAtoo and others that the investigations do too much to protect the church. It comes weeks after three of eight people appointed to a Provincial Response Team to oversee the sexual abuse investigation resigned, saying the team’s process “never felt survivor-centered.”
Ten people have come forward since 2019 to accuse Mark Rivera, a former lay minister in the Upper Midwest Diocese, of sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Others have said Bishop Stewart Ruch III, who has been on a leave of absence since July, and other church leaders created a toxic culture of submission and control at Church of the Resurrection, the diocesan headquarters.
ACNA, a denomination of about 127,000 people, began as a group of dissenters from the Episcopal Church who disagreed with its stances on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ ordination.
One woman whose young daughter reported being sexually abused …