In interviews with the Washington Post, women who lived under the watchful eye of a Christian group with direct ties to Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett explained that when they went to leaders of the group to describe incidents of sexual assault, they were denied help or ignored.
The report notes that “People of Praise” — described as an organization that “grew out of the charismatic Christian movement of the early 1970s, which adopted practices described in the New Testament of the Bible, including speaking in tongues, the use of prophecy and faith healing” — is now taking a hard look at how they deal with victims of sexual assault in the past.
Case in point, Katie Logan — now 37 — revealed to the Post that she had been sexually assaulted at age 17 by her physics teacher at a school run by People of Praise, told the dean of the school what happened, who then relayed it to another official — and then it was dropped with the teacher, identified as Dave Beskar, moving on to head up several other schools without an investigation. The WaPo adds that Beskar denied anything happened.
According to Logan, People of Praise failed her and other victims.
“People of Praise leaders failed me. I think they wanted to protect themselves more than they wanted to protect me and other girls,” Logan explained while adding that she just now came forward after being encouraged by the founder of “PoP Survivors” on Facebook.
During Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings before getting a life-time appointment to the Supreme Court, no mention was made of People of Praise, even though it was accused of being a haven for anti-LGBTQ Christians.
According to Matt Laslo, “Inside the POP community, former members describe an oppressively patriarchal system (nothing like ‘Handmaid’s Tale, even if female leaders were once dubbed ‘handmaids’), a culture of spying (usually by the teen’s ‘mentors’ who rifle through disgusting trash bins looking for student’s notes), and a culture of isolating paranoia because the threat of being shamed and shunned by the community always hung thick in the air.”
As for Coney Barrett’s connection, the WaPo reports, “Barrett, who was raised in a People of Praise community in Louisiana, has long been active in the branch in the South Bend area, where she was a student at Notre Dame Law School. Barrett lived for a time with People of Praise co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, Dorothy Ranaghan has confirmed. A People of Praise 2010 directory shows Barrett served as a ‘handmaid,’ a key female adviser to another female member. Barrett served on the Trinity Schools board, whose members must belong to People of Praise, from 2015 to 2017.”
The WaPo report goes on to add that POP’s current leadership is taking the accusations seriously with Craig Lent, chairman of the religious group’s board of governors, issuing a statement reading the organization is taking the accusations “seriously” adding, “People of Praise has always put the safety of children far above any reputational concerns,” before refusing to answer any written questions.
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