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.”
PHOTOS: Andrew Rannells out and about
Andrew Rannells out and about
Andrew Rannells out and about
Andrew Rannells attends the premiere of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" at the SVA Theatre on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Andrew Rannells pictured at Showtime's Emmy Eve Celebration at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, CA on September 16, 2018. (Photo by Blair Raughley/Invision for Showtime/AP)
Andrew Rannells arrives at the 71st annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 11, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Andrew Rannells attends the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Liberty State Park on Saturday, June 3, 2017, in New Jersey. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Andrew Rannells arrives at the premiere of "Big Mouth" at Break Room 86 on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Actor Andrew Rannells attends the New York Film Critics Circle Awards at Tao Downtown on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Andrew Rannells, a cast member in the Showtime television series "Black Monday," poses at the premiere of the show, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Photo by: Demis Maryannakis/STAR MAX/IPx 12/13/18 Andrew Rannells at the Broadway opening of "To Kill A Mockingbird" in New York City.
NEW YORK, NY July 09, 2018 Andrew Rannells at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to talk about Broadway play Boys in the Band in New York. July 09, 2018 Credit:RW/MediaPunch /IPX
Photo by: John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx
Andrew Rannells at The 11th Annual God's Love We Deliver Golden Heart Awards in New York City.
Andrew Rannells participates in the 2017 Tony Awards Meet the Nominees press day at the Sofitel New York hotel on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Actors Andrew Rannells attends the premiere of HBO's "Girls" sixth and final season at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Actor Andrew Rannells attends the premiere of "The Glass Castle" at the SVA Theatre on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Actor Andrew Rannells imitates Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Andrew Rannells wears a silver ribbon as he arrives at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Andrew Rannells, left, and Noah Galvin appear on stage at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Waldorf Astoria on Saturday, May 14, 2016, in New York. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Andrew Rannells attends the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Waldorf Astoria on Saturday, May 14, 2016, in New York. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Andrew Rannells at the New York screening of Warner Bros Pictures The Intern at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York City on September 22, 2015. Credit: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
Andrew Rannells arrives at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala, celebrating the opening of "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" on Monday, May 2, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Actors Andrew Rannells, left, and Anne Hathaway attend a special screening of "The Intern", hosted by The Cinema Society and Ruffino, at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Andrew Rannells attends the premiere of "The Intern" at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
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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.