Upper Midwest parish volunteer found guilty of child abuse

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The man at the center of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest abuse scandal was convicted last week of five counts of child abuse.

Mark Rivera,, was found guilty at a bench trial before Judge John Barsanti of the 16th Judicial District for Kane County on 15 Dec 2022 of two counts of predatory sexual assault of a victim under 13 years old and three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under 13.  Rivera served as a volunteer at Christ our Light Anglican Church in Big Rock, Ill. between 2013 and 2019. He was arrested in 2019 after he was accused of molesting a young girl, his goddaughter.

Rivera’s attorneys have thirty days to file a motioun for a new trial, otherwise sentencing will take place on 10 Feb 2023. The court revoked Rivera’s bail following his conviction and he has been returned to custody.

The Rivera case sparked controversy within the diocese and the ACNA with allegations the Rt. Rev. Stewart Ruch and his staff mishandled the affair, allegedly not acting according to the ACNA’s abuse protocols. Bishop Ruch took a voluntary leave of absence while a law firm engaged by the province reviewed the evidence while several members of the diocesan council resigned from their posts. 

In October 2022 Bishop Ruch returned to lead the diocese after the investigation found no malfeasance on his part.

Rivera also faces charges he sexually assaulted a woman. That case continues.

N.b. The final sentence in the fourth paragraph of this story was updated to remove confusion. Several members of the bishop’s council resigned. The diocese has a single salaried staffer and that person did not resign.