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Andrew Rannells Says a Priest 'Muscled' His Tongue into His Mouth as a Teen

Andrew Rannells

Broadway star Andrew Rannells's memoir Too Much Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood was released Tuesday. And it arrives at a time when the Catholic Church is reckoning with even more sexual abuse scandals. In his memoir, Rannells shares that a Catholic priest shoved his tongue into his mouth when Rannells was a high-school-age altar boy, according to an excerpt in Vulture.

In an excerpt titled "It’s Never the Priest You Want to Kiss," the Book of Mormon star chronicles the nuns and priests he encountered throughout his Catholic school education. But it was at his high school, Creighton Prep in Omaha, where a priest took advantage of Rannells. He writes that he was struggling with aspects of his sexuality and a relationship with an older man and sought out a priest's guidance during confession.

Rannells describes the incident where he went to a priest in his 60s who he refers to as Father Dominic. He writes that after-mass confessions at his high school weren’t held in a curtained box like is so often depicted in movies, so the priest and confessor sat face to face. Rannells writes:

“Priests would set up two chairs close to each other in various darkened corners of the quad, turn on music at a low volume to muddle the sound of confessions, and then you would basically just get right up in a priest’s face and whisper your sins. Sometimes he would close his eyes and grab the back of your neck firmly while you confessed. 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.”

The actor goes on to describe the incident with Dominic in greater detail:

“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.”

The revelation that a priest sexually assaulted Rannells comes at a time when the Catholic Church is dealing with fresh scandals around clerical sexual abuse. In February, the Vatican defrocked ex-Cardinal and Archbishop Theodore McCarrick after he was found guilty of sexual abuse of minors and adults. And the church held its first-ever summit on how to deal with sex abuse within its walls.

Rannells ends the chapter of his memoir with a story about how, after months of actively avoiding Dominic, the priest assaulted him again at his graduation barbecue.

“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,” Rannells writes. “I just stood there and let him. I didn’t kiss back, but I also didn’t move. 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.”

Rannells’s memoir is available now.

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