Spiritual abuse allegations in another ACNA diocese

UPDATE: Survivors say ACNA leaders botched response to allegations against DC priest – RNS

With churches scattered between Maine and North Carolina, Christ Our Hope Diocese was originally a church planting network in the Anglican Church of Rwanda that joined the Anglican Church in North America in 2015. The ACNA split from the Episcopal Church in 2009, largely in dissent of the latter’s acceptance of LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriages.


Survivors allege Bishop Steven A. Breedlove (pictured) of the ACNA Diocese of Christ Our Hope mishandled their abuse allegations against the Rev. Dan Claire.

Several survivors in the ACNA Diocese of Christ Our Hope are alleging wrongful behavior by the rector of Church of the Resurrection in Washington, DC, and mishandling of the allegations by the bishop of the diocese. The Anglican Church in North America, or ACNA, is an amalgamation of groups that broke away from The Episcopal Church over the issue of homosexuality.

An Open Letter from Survivors in the Diocese of Christ Our Hope is published at the advocacy group ACNAtoo. Extracts follow in italics:

Over the course of several months in 2020, multiple unrelated and uncoordinated reports were submitted directly to Bishop Steven Breedlove by individuals who alleged that they had been subjected to abuse by the Rev. Dan Claire, Rector of Church of the Resurrection in Washington, DC. 

The allegations indicated significant spiritual abuse and pastoral misconduct, including that Rev. Claire betrayed pastoral confidences, misused his ecclesial authority to control and manipulate people under his pastoral authority, disclosed and misused mental health histories in order to discredit people, and ostracized and slandered parishioners who attempted to challenge any of his questionable behavior. Additional allegations include victim blaming and defamation in cases of sexual impropriety. 

In November 2020, the reported victims alleging abuse were told by Bp. Breedlove that the Diocese would open an investigation into the allegations concerning the behavior of Rev. Claire. Bp. Breedlove stated that the investigation would be limited only to those who had come forward on their own earlier in the year. 

Throughout this process, the Diocese of Christ Our Hope failed victims in numerous ways, as outlined in the key complaints below. It was especially grievous that Bp. Breedlove did not act with transparency throughout the process and, at some points, claimed not to have knowledge of key allegations despite significant email evidence to the contrary. 

Unfortunately, the Diocese has decided to address concerns raised about the process by hiring Grand River Solutions to conduct an investigation into the mishandling of abuse allegations. Grand River Solutions has been the subject of substantial complaints from Moody Bible Institute survivors. Grand River Solutions was also rejected by survivors in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest over significant concerns regarding survivor confidentiality, unsafe investigative standards, and lack of public reporting.  

Our key complaints related to the handling of the allegations of abuse against Rev. Claire, the subsequent investigation, and its findings include:

  • The first contract between the Diocese and the investigators was not shared with us.

  • The final investigative report has not been shared with any of us. Despite the promise at the beginning of the investigation that we would have access to our own parts of the report, some of our requests were later declined.

  • The Diocese only informed us after the first investigation was concluded that it should have been a canonical investigation.

  • We are dismayed that the investigative report as well as the 7 charges presented to Rev. Claire were discarded due to protests from Rev. Claire.

  • For almost 2 years we were under a strict “gag order” in place by Bp. Breedlove, under threat that the investigation would be derailed if the allegations and investigation were discussed with anyone. 

  • We have been reportedly defamed and accused of collusion. Despite a complete lack of evidence of any collusion, there has been little to no support or defense from the Diocese.

  • Rev. Claire has been allowed to continue in his current position unfettered, and the Diocese has failed to mitigate the risk of abuse to additional people. In fact, additional new victims have come forward during this time of investigation. 

  • We were promised that Bp. Breedlove would deliver a Godly Admonition to Rev. Claire on March 18th but Bp. Breedlove has continually evaded our questions as to what that Admonition entails. 

  • We were promised that Rev. Claire would publicly address his church about the allegations made against him and the harm he has inflicted, but again Bp. Breedlove has evaded details on how this “crucial” step of the process is to be fulfilled. 

 

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