Actor Andrew Rannells has revealed that a Catholic priest sexually assaulted him during confession when he was a high school student.
Rannells, known for his work in the Broadway musical “A Book of Mormon” and the HBO series “Girls,” wrote about the assault in his newly published memoir, Too Much Is Not Enough. In an excerpt published in Vulture, Rannells, 40, described several interactions with priests ― some inappropriate ― when he was a closeted gay student at Creighton Prep, a Jesuit high school in Omaha, Nebraska.
Rannells wrote that tried to come out as gay to a teacher and priest named Father Dominic during confession. Students were required to attend weekly Mass in the school’s quad, and priests would set up chairs in corners of the quad to listen to confession, he recalled.
“Sometimes he would close his eyes and grab the back of your neck firmly while you confessed,” Rannells wrote. “It seemed very ‘Roman Wrestler’ at the time, but looking back it was also very ‘Abusive Pimp.’ I waited in line to talk with Father Dominic, who was popular for confessions. I told myself that he was going to be helpful, that this was my best option.”
Rannells wrote that what happened next left him “stunned”:
I sat across from him in a dark corner, our knees touching. He grabbed my neck, as expected, and I started to talk. I started to try to explain what was happening with me, but I couldn’t make the words come out right. Instead, I started to cry. I was so embarrassed. Father Dominic squeezed my neck harder, and he grabbed both my hands with his free hand. His hands were like baseball mitts. We just sat there while I cried. He finally said, “It’s okay. You’ve done nothing wrong.” It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it still felt nice. He stood up and pulled me up with him. He hugged me tightly. I felt safe and heard and understood. Then, with unexpected force, he kissed me. On the lips. He muscled his tongue into my mouth and held the back of my head still. Then he released me and made the sign of the cross on my forehead. He smiled.
Rannells wrote that the priest assaulted him a second time a few years later during his high school graduation party.
“We stood at my parents’ front door and said our good-byes for the final time, and then he grabbed me by the back of the neck and forced his tongue in my mouth,” he wrote.
“I just stood there and let him. I didn’t kiss back, but I also didn’t move,” Rannells continued. “He smiled at me and walked to his car. I went into our kitchen and slammed a glass of wine before going back out to the party.”
The Roman Catholic church, which has been accused over covering up sexual abuse for decades, has been under heightened pressure since a Pennsylvania grand jury published a report in August that identified 301 sexual predator priests and more than 1,000 victims. The church also was criticized after it was revealed that dozens of nuns reported rape and sexual assault at the hands of priests.
Pope Francis has acknowledged the scandal, but his steps toward reform have left many critics unsatisfied.
Head over to Vulture to read the full excerpt of Rannells’ book.