The ACNA diocese has hired the firm Grand River Solutions to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations against Rivera and its own failures in responding to these allegations.
Survivor Raises Red Flags About ACNA Investigation
Roys also retweeted a thread from a woman named Joanna Rudenborg, who not only says that Mark Rivera raped her twice but also accuses Olsen of being complicit in protecting Rivera. Rudenborg did not spell out Olsen’s exact relationship to Rivera, but she did post a picture from 2008 with both men in it and said that church leaders including Olsen, Ruch, Rivera “and other leaders directly implicated in this scandal…have all been professionally and/or socially intertwined for decades.” Olsen served at Church of Resurrection at one point in his ministry. Rudenborg also raised red flags about the independent investigation, saying Ruch’s open letter “contains multiple still-uncorrected factual inaccuracies and several as-yet-unfulfilled promises.”
In her retweet, Roys alluded to her own connections with Church of the Resurrection, as well as Rudenborg’s accusations against Olsen. “So heartbroken over this,” said Roys. “As you may know, our family attended Rez & one of those Joanna names was a TRR brd mmbr & close friend.”
Rudenborg confirmed in her thread Ruch’s statements that Rivera was a lay pastor at COLA and that he was removed from leadership in 2019. She said her connection with Rivera was that her godfather was a priest at COLA and church members, including Rivera, were her friends and neighbors.
“My neighbor Mark Rivera raped me twice, pressured me to keep this secret, and repeatedly propositioned me to have an affair,” said Rudenborg. “Mark told his best friend, COLA’s senior warden and worship pastor Chris Lapeyre, about the first rape almost immediately. Chris kept Mark’s secret indefinitely and would later (November 2020) try to shame me into continued silence when he realized I was coming forward.”
Rudenborg also confirmed Ruch’s statement that a minor had accused Rivera of assault in 2019, but Rudenborg had more detail to share about Rivera’s alleged crimes and abuses. “The first rape was in 2018. In 2019, a 9-year-old in Mark’s church told her mother Mark had been sexually assaulting her. A teenage girl also alleged assaults. Stories surfaced of predatory behavior spanning decades. Mark said this was just Satan attacking the church.”
Even though Rivera was removed from leadership in 2019, Rudenborg claims that church leaders and friends protected him while “his victim’s family” was forced out of the church. “A dozen+ allegations against Mark include unwanted touching, exposing teens to pornography, indecent exposure, sexual abuse, child sexual assault, attempted child sexual assault, and rape. He’s now awaiting trial for child sexual assault and under police investigation for rape.”
Rudenborg accused Ruch of serious abuses of his responsibility to hold Rivera accountable. “In January, a group of Mark’s victims and our advocates wrote Bp. Stewart begging him to enlist third-party help,” she said. “He assembled a committee from his staff and advisors to respond to us.” Olsen is a member of that committee.
The investigation the ACNA has commissioned is not truly independent, argues Rudenborg, because those who are being investigated are the ones paying for the investigation. Other red flags Rudenborg raised are that leadership has not committed to publishing the investigation’s results, are limiting its scope, and have refused to waive client confidentiality privileges. The diocese, says Rudenborg, “has drastically downplayed both their own 2+ years of mishandling this and Mark’s long history with the Diocese.”
Rudenborg pointed to concerns that Boz Tchividjian has raised about the investigation commissioned by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, as well as to concerns raised by Rachael Denhollander about the investigation commissioned by the Southern Baptist Convention. Rudenborg sees similar warning signs in the ACNA’s situation. “This thread doesn’t begin to address the institutional enabling, mandatory reporting failures, pressure not to contact authorities, severe pastoral care negligence, or absurd levels of spiritual bypassing we’ve experienced,” she said. “That information will come out in time.”
Correction: This article originally listed Joanna Rudenborg’s last name incorrectly.