Amy Coney Barrett’s former religious group has been accused of child sex abuse

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People of Praise, an Indiana-based religious group in which Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett once held a leadership position, is in hot water over newly uncovered child sex abuse allegations. and other sexual misconduct, according to court documents from the 1990s. obtained by The Guardian. The allegations come as the Supreme Court prepares to to spill Roe vs. Wade with Barrett’s backing, opening the door to the state-sanctioned abuse and gender-based violence that is forced pregnancy and childbirth.

Court documents shared on Monday come after the outlet first reported Two years ago, People of Praise hired a law firm to carry out an “independent” investigation into numerous allegations of sexual abuse made by minors from the religious group. The investigation has since been completed, but curiously, its findings will not be made public or to the alleged victims of the religious group.

Cynthia Carnick, a woman who was suing to deny visitation to the father of her children citing her membership in the People of Praise, filed the court documents in question in 1993. The allegations made in the documents primarily name Dorothy and Kevin Ranaghan, the founder of the religious group, which is a covenanted community that requires members to live together and share their income.

According to the allegations, Dorothy Ranaghan “tied the arms and legs of two of the Ranaghans’ daughters – who were three and five years old when the incidents were allegedly witnessed – to their crib with a tie”. The Guardian reports. Carnick further alleged that the Ranaghans performed “sex parades” in front of their children and the adults in the household, including Dorothy lying on Kevin and “rocking” in front of their children.

An affidavit supporting Carnick’s written statements came from a woman who had lived in the Ranaghan household and said she was ‘shocked’ to learn that Kevin had showered with two of his young daughters. She later recalled being told by Dorothy that Kevin had “decided to stop showering with them”, shortly after the woman asked Dorothy about it.

Another affidavit from a woman who had lived with Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan in the 1970s confirms that she also witnessed inappropriate sexual behavior by the Ranaghans, and details the extreme control Kevin had over her life. :

“When I was in the People of Praise, I was in full submission to Kevin Ranaghan, under his full obedience and he exercised that authority over most areas of my life. For example, we were ‘in common’ financially, this which meant that I had to give my paycheck to Kevin Ranaghan and he would decide how that paycheck would be used. Kevin Ranaghan controlled my romantic relationships, deciding who and when I had to date.

Just last year, four people claimed to have been victims of sexual and physical abuse while members of People of Praise published a letter in the South Bend Grandstand calling on the group to make sweeping reforms. Specifically, the letter demands that the group publicly acknowledge “the systemic failure to protect People of Praise’s children from abuse,” publicly name members of the group who have been “credibly accused of abuse,” and amend its leadership policies so that it has “an equal number of women in the highest management positions in the group. The group notably allows only men to sit on its board of directors.

According to public records, Barrett lived in the Ranaghan home while attending law school in the 1990s, and her husband Jesse Barrett, also a member of People of Praise, also lived there. In addition to this, Judge Barrett served in a leadership capacity as a “servant”, or advisor to other female members of the group. And from 2015 to 2017, Barrett served on the Trinity Schools Board, which requires its members to belong to the People of Praise, and proudly bars admission of children of same-sex parents as well as openly LGBTQ teachers.

Judge Barrett’s affiliations with a group accused of sexual misconduct should surprise no one: In 2018, while serving as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, she reversed a jury award to a teenager who was allegedly raped in prison by a guard. This cruelty towards survivors is ultimately inseparable from its objective of forcing pregnancy and childbirth on pregnant women without their consent.

Today, as we await the Supreme Court’s inevitably dire ruling on abortion rights, Barrett’s ties to a religious group rooted in outright patriarchal domination and plagued by allegations of sexual abuse are inseparable from his crusade on reproductive rights. Despite his laughable claims throughout his confirmation hearings that his ties to People of Praise would not prevent him from being impartial on abortion and LGBTQ rights issues, we all knew what his confirmation in court would mean for pregnant women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. In 2006, she sign on a newspaper ad calling deer “barbaric.” Between 2010 and 2016, she was member from the Faculty for Life at Notre Dame University.

Nonetheless, we’ve been told to celebrate Barrett’s confirmation as feminist victory. Her followers reminded us at every turn that she was a mother of seven who still managed to excel in her career – the implicit message of this story was that if she could do it, then all the selfish pregnant women who had abortions during their economic well-being could have done it too. Barrett’s children, two of whom are black and one disabled, have long been armed by his supporters to deny accusations about Barrett’s racist policies, and in the future will likely be used to justify his support for discrimination race, sex and disability-selective abortion bans that will eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Ultimately, the hypocrisy of Barrett once helping to lead a group that allegedly enabled rampant child sexual abuse, while claiming to be “pro-life,” is shocking, but at this point, it’s not even not vaguely surprising.

About Jessica J. Bass

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