Jonathan Ryan/Weyer still Pastoral Associate of Evanglization at Lafayette parish

This article is the third in a series of investigative reports covering allegations of spiritual and sexual abuse by Jonathan Ryan, a.k.a. Jonathan Weyer, co-founder of Sick Pilgrim. Part I is here; Part II is here.  This series is a collaborative effort by Simcha and Damien Fisher.

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After revelations that Sick Pilgrim co-founder Jonathan Ryan has been accused of committing a series of exploitative and spiritually abusive acts against several women, St. Alphonsis Liguori Church in Zionsville, Indiana, which employs him as Associate Pastor of Evangelization Pastoral Associate of Evangelization has not responded to inquiries about his status at the parish. The Diocese of Lafayette and the Bishop’s office have also not responded to inquiries. Ryan’s name was removed from the parish website on Monday.

Donna Provencher, who recently revealed her allegations of harrowing spiritual abuse and sexual exploitation at the hands of Ryan, said on Monday afternoon that she sent emails to the HR department of the Diocese of Lafayette, but they declined to give her any information about whether Ryan will be dismissed.

“The diocese called me today and they informed me he is being investigated but still employed there,” Provencher said.

She says the HR spokesman told her there will be no way of victims or the public getting answers about his employment because “we won’t be allowed to tell you.” Provencher says the HR spokesman said that Monday morning was “the first she was hearing of [the situation].”

“I’m horrified,” said Provencher.
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“Remember that time when [the Catholic Church] buried a sex abuse crisis and shuffled perps around from diocese to diocese and we all realized that was a terrible idea and they made a whole movie about it? Maybe let’s not do that again.”
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“I’ve heard from two women now who he met in the very early days of the group who had similar experiences [of sexual and spiritual exploitation]. It’s possible it was going on at this rate all along.” The Sick Pilgrim blog was launched in 2015.
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Griffith says she believes his behavior has been escalating, “becoming sloppier and more erratic.”
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Griffith has rediscovered a post Ryan wrote for Sick Pilgrim in February of 2016, titled “Dark Devotional: The Devil Inside.” In it, Ryan says that, when he was younger, he deliberately cultivated a “man of God” persona to become more attractive to girls.

“Because, let’s face it, there is nothing more erotic to Christian girls than a guy who loves Jesus. I spoke in tongues and used my tongue,” Ryan wrote.

Ryan, who sometimes uses the name “Jonathan Weyer,” continues:

“When I reached my twenties, my thirst for spiritual recognition and power led me to becoming a Presbyterian minister (when, in my heart, I just wanted to be a history professor and writer). That was a disastrous decision that eventually blew my life apart. I got divorced and started my life over again at 41 years old. All because of choices I started making in high school: to value my reputation, to grab for power and to allow a deep-seated spiritual arrogance to rule me. I failed all three tests because I failed to remember one simple thing: when religion offers power, control and manipulation, it’s always a very, very bad thing.”

Griffith says she rolled her eyes at the time, thinking he was “trying to be some kind of sexy bad boy,” but now she considers this essay a strong clue about why he was removed from ministry. The behavior he describes as in his past is precisely the behavior he is accused of as recently as Friday.
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Provencher notes that, at the bottom of Ryan’s post is a link to the Rolling Stones song “Sympathy for the Devil.””He was actually outing himself while pretending to be repentant,
Provencher said, “and thumbing his nose at everyone while he did it.”
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Near the top of the website for the Diocese of Lafayette is this message:

“The Diocese of Lafayette and the Office of Safe Environment are pleased to announce that we have been notified by the auditing firm appointed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that we are again in full compliance with all data requirements for the 2015-2016 charter audit period.  The Office of Safe Environment has met all requirements since the inception of the Safe Environment Program and will continue to carry out all that is needed in order to protect our youth throughout the Diocese.”

Ryan was responsible for hiring and overseeing the St. Alphonsis Liguori youth ministry coordinator, according to an ad posted August 29, 2017.

Provencher says the Zionsville local newspaper has contacted her about her involvement in the story, and she hopes this will encourage the church to dismiss Ryan promptly.

 

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Image: Jonathan Ryan, detail of photo by Michelle Sterling, used with permission
 EDIT November 21, 12:34 a.m.: Ryan’s title at Alphonsis Liguori is Associate Pastor of Evangelization, and not Pastoral Associate of Evangelization.

14 thoughts on “Jonathan Ryan/Weyer still Pastoral Associate of Evanglization at Lafayette parish”

  1. Wow. The humble-bragging about how bad he “used to be” in the “Dark Devotional” post rings some bells. I recall that John Corapi also used to regale audiences with spicy anecdotes about what a bad boy he “used to be” under the guise of witnessing to God’s work in his life. Romanticized confessions like this should be a warning sign to tread carefully.

  2. As a FYI everyone, it seems the coordinator position has gone up again, or is for another(?) at the parish alongside a custodian position. The hiring has been taken over by a Susan Derocher with the Parish. So it seems like this is being somewhat handled, at least he is not being allowed to be in a position of authority in terms of hiring parish staff.

  3. Standard HR protocol is being followed here. HR professionals have to honor the confidentiality of all employees, even those being accused. There open themselves up to legal liability if they do not follow this protocol. You may not like it, but it serves as protection to all of us, so it’s a big disingenuous to call attention to the fact that HR won’t divulge details about how they are handling the situation as though it were out of the ordinary. I agree with the above commenter that the first two articles on this were important, but that this one just seems like a pile-on. Following internal processes can take some time, and for all we know he’s been placed on an administrative leave while an investigation takes place.

    1. You know what would have helped tremendously? If any of these offices had responded by saying, “We take allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously, we’ll be looking into this thoroughly, and we will respond appropriately.” I didn’t say they did anything wrong; I just reported what they said. It wasn’t a disaster, but considering how much trust the Church has lost in matters like this, they could have handled it a lot better.

  4. A person in a position to provide spiritual direction to others (including youth) should not be doing what this man has done. Assaulting an unconscious woman is illegal. Manipulating and coercing women into believing they are altar-bound into having sexual relationships with other irons in the fire is not appropriate for someone in a position of spiritual leadership. He engaged in spiritual and emotional abuse with multiple women and then sexually assaulted his business partner. There are total strangers defending him and believing this is a witch hunt and that is how sexual predators thrive.

  5. I have no doubts about the accusations that have been made against Ryan. I believe the stories because they truly seem genuine and everything Ryan has said in his defense is creepy as hell. Still, I think you’re taking it too far with this post. This story broke just before the weekend. And as of Monday they are doing their own investigation. How much more prompt do you expect them to be? This is the Church, after all. They don’t do anything hastily.

    And considering that nothing he did was actually illegal, I don’t think it’s fair to expect them to just fire him right off. They have every right to do their own investigation. In fact, I question whether anyone accused of sexual abuse or misconduct should be fired only on the basis of the accusation. Because false accusations are made sometimes. And ruining someone’s livelihood over an unproven accusation is not just or merciful.

    Isn’t it enough that the word is out and the process is started?

    1. How many accusations do they NEED? And I believe most of the women have evidence, as well.

      I agree that nothing he did was illegal. But this is hardly a man who should be in a position of trust in leadership. If he were in another profession — a maintenance man or a lawyer, for example — I imagine his employer could say, “Just keep it out of the workplace.” But by the very NATURE of his job, he is someone the Church is telling us we can trust. Someone we can look to for advice and leadership. It’s not even close to the same beast as any other profession.

  6. It is directly to the point that a man in his position had no business having “former love interests”. Note the plural.

  7. The reports about Mr. Ryan are very concerning. There are not by impartial witnesses though, but by former love interests, which reminds me of the proverb: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
    I hope the author has weighed well the protection of the public from Mr. Ryan against the protection of his privacy. This should not degenerate into a revenge against Mr. Ryan.

    1. Actually, some of us ARE impartial witnesses. Jonathan approached me online this summer. I was initially very taken with him, but he came to visit me, I found several things about him unsettling. Namely, I found him extremely self-centered. He “talked the talk” very convincingly about his faith, but I saw no evidence of any true depth to it. He told me he used Tinder to meet women and was utterly unconcerned as how this might look for a man with a position of leadership in a parish. He also mentioned a woman he had been engaged to 2 1/2 months after meeting her. (To the best of my knowledge, she has not come forward yet.) He also repeatedly expressed his willingness — unasked — to move to my state, despite the fact that it would have put him 10 hours away from his children. Fortunately, I am not only a decade older than Ms. Provencher but have experienced this sort of “love bombing” before and recognized it for what it was.

      I ended things and thought almost nothing more about him until October, when I accidentally pocket dialed him. I hung up, but he called me back. We chatted briefly. I mentioned I was taking a break from dating and and he told me he was as well. He suggested we be each other’s “emotional support.” I felt that didn’t sound healthy and declined. (I also found out that was the very same time he was telling Donna he planned to marry her.)

      I have told Simcha and others, including the bishop (who has yet to respond), my own story. For my own reasons, I am choosing not to use my name publicly, although I did use it in my communications with the diocese and Simcha, as well as Donna. But I have ZERO axe to grind here. Jonathan did, fortunately, minimal damage to my own life, and even before all this broke, you couldn’t have paid me to have a relationship with him. My ONLY goal has been to help protect other women from him and lend my support to those whose lives he up-ended far more than he did mine.

      1. AB,
        Thank you for your reply and thank you very much for writing about your experiences with Mr. Ryan/Weyer to the diocese where he works as a spiritual leader. From what you write, Mr. Ryan/Weyer sounds unfit for his current job, and I hope the diocese will make a wise decision not too far in the future. I was especially bothered by his apparently parallel endeavors with different women – if I might suggest to send a specific timeline of your experience with him to the diocese, which might help them to see any duplicity.
        I’m sorry for your disappointing experience with Mr. Ryan/Weyer and wish you God’s blessing in your future.
        Regards,
        Peter Tobias

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