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Mark Rivera, a former Anglican lay pastor, discovered responsible of felony youngster sexual assault

(RNS) — Mark Rivera, a former lay pastor on the heart of a number of sexual abuse allegations in a conservative Anglican denomination, was discovered responsible of 5 counts of felony youngster sexual abuse and assault on Thursday morning (Dec. 15).

Choose John Barsanti of Illinois’ sixteenth Judicial Circuit Courtroom in Kane County discovered Rivera responsible of two counts of predatory sexual assault of a sufferer beneath 13 years outdated (a Class X felony) and three counts of aggravated prison sexual abuse of a sufferer beneath 13 (a Class 2 felony). The protection has 30 days to file a movement to request a brand new trial, and if the movement is denied, the sentencing listening to is anticipated to happen on Feb. 10. Barsanti revoked Rivera’s bail, and Rivera will likely be held at Kane County jail awaiting the ultimate final result of the prosecution.

The choice has been a very long time coming for the household of Cherin Marie, whose younger daughter initially reported being sexually abused by Rivera in 2019. Cherin requested to go by her first and center names to guard her household’s privateness.

“We’re grateful for the decision and we hope this is step one of many in the direction of justice for Mark Rivera’s victims,” Cherin mentioned on behalf of her household. 

Rivera served as a lay minister at a church plant of the Anglican Church in North America in Large Rock, Illinois, from 2013-2019. He was initially arrested in 2019 and charged in connection together with his crimes in opposition to Cherin’s daughter, who attended the church plant with Cherin and her household. Rivera has since been accused of abusing greater than 10 different alleged survivors, and has additionally been charged with two felony counts of prison sexual assault.

The three-day bench trial — a trial determined by a decide, not a jury — befell over the span of three months on the Kane County Judicial Heart on July 12, Sept. 2 and Oct. 16.

Julia Petersen, an ACNA member who attended the primary day of the trial in solidarity with the reported survivors, informed Faith Information Service that seeing Cherin’s daughter give her testimony was profoundly shifting. “I’ve by no means seen braveness like I’ve seen that day,” she mentioned.

Matthew Rodgers, an legal professional from the Kane County State’s Lawyer Workplace who represented the folks of Illinois on this case, informed RNS in an electronic mail that the prosecutors took on this case as a result of “we and the grand jury discovered the sufferer and the allegations to be credible.” He mentioned the protection’s fundamental argument was that the state had inadequate proof. Rivera’s lawyer, Brittany Pedersen, didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.

Earlier this 12 months, the anti-abuse advocacy group ACNAtoo reported that the prison trial was initially deliberate for December 2020 however confronted a number of delays. “For practically two years, this younger lady has repeatedly steeled herself to face her abuser in courtroom, solely to have the trial delayed once more each time,” they wrote in September.

“We’re grateful that as we speak’s responsible verdict marks the start of justice for this brave younger lady and her household. Let justice roll down for all of Mark Rivera’s victims,” ACNAtoo mentioned as we speak in an announcement to RNS. 

The Anglican Church in North America shaped in 2009 after splitting from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over the 2 denominations’ acceptance of LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage. Management within the younger denomination’s Higher Midwest Diocese, the place the Christ Our Gentle Anglican church plant was positioned, has been roiled by accusations of mishandling sexual abuse allegations for over a year. Spokespeople for ACNA and the diocese didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Katie Robichaud, a former member of Church of the Resurrection — the Higher Midwest Diocese’s headquarters and the onetime church residence of Rivera — attended the second day of the trial. She informed RNS she’s apprehensive church leaders nonetheless could not take the fact of sexual abuse within the church significantly.

“The priority I’ve is that the province, or the diocese or the native church Rez, will attempt, consciously or not, to interpret this as an exception and a fluke as a substitute of an enormous warning signal that if it’s not taken significantly, instantly, that it’s only a matter of time earlier than we repeat this entire state of affairs.”

In Might, Cherin Marie filed a lawsuit in opposition to Christ Our Gentle Anglican Church, the now defunct church plant the place Rivera was lay pastor, arguing that her daughter has skilled psychological anguish and emotional and bodily ache due to the church’s negligence. The lawsuit requests over $50,000 in damages. Evan Smola, a lawyer who’s representing Cherin within the civil case, says the responsible verdict probably is not going to affect the lawsuit.

“As a result of the burdens of proof are totally different criminally than they’re civilly, the outcomes of prison circumstances are usually not admissible in a civil case,” he informed RNS.

Rivera continues to be awaiting trial within the Kane County circuit courtroom for costs associated to rape allegations made in opposition to him by his former neighbor, Joanna Rudenborg. She informed RNS in an electronic mail that Thursday’s responsible verdict demonstrates that “the State, if not the Church, takes the serial sexual assault of a 9-year-old youngster significantly.”

“Each conviction of a serial abuser brings a sigh of reduction and a few sense of justice for the survivors watching,” Rudenborg informed RNS. “I do know there are nonetheless a number of Mark Riveras on the market. However my thoughts could be put vastly comfy to know that the precise one who shattered the lives of so many individuals I like, that at the least he’s lastly someplace the place he can’t damage folks so simply.”

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