‘I have to speak up’: Sex abuse survivor reacts to Mercy Corps report

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A sexual abuse survivor who broke her silence about the abuse she experienced from her father, a co-founder of Portland-based Mercy Corps, is now reacting to a new investigation that detailed the shortcomings of the organization during another investigation into the abuse nearly 30 years ago.

Tania Culver Humphrey tells KOIN 6 News she cried for hours after the report was released Wednesday, but said it had to happen in order to save other people.

The report details horrifying accounts of sexual abuse at the hands of her father, Mercy Corps co-found Ellsworth Culver, and other men.

“An 11-year-old girl, me an 11-year-old girl, had to be underneath the table in the Mercy Corps headquarters being forced to perform a sex act,” Culver Humphrey said, adding the public needs “to know what we’re really talking about.”

Culver Humphrey said the abuse happened for years not only in Portland but in other countries when she traveled internationally with her father for Mercy Corps.

Culver Humphrey said other young girls were abused as well, including a 9-year-old girl she said died in a Thai hotel after severe sexual and physical abuse.

“I have to speak up for her because she literally doesn’t have a voice, she literally is dead,” Culver Humphrey said. “And nobody cared, and just because she was a refugee does not give anybody the right to discard her, even now.”

According to the recently released investigation, an investigation committee in 1993 focused too much on the public relations aspect of the allegations and told Culver about Culver Humphrey’s allegations against her wishes.

Read the full investigative report; story continues below

Culver Humphrey came forward with the abuse allegations through The Oregonian’s reporting in 2019, and praised the reporters who told her story.

“It took people being willing to stand up and take a risk and throughout my whole life, no one was willing to stand up and take any risk to protect, they only just were interested in protecting themselves,” Culver Humphrey said.

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Mercy Corps said, “We feel deep regret that Mercy Corps failed in its responsibility in 1992 and 1993 to understand the extent of the abuse, assist in pursuing justice, and potentially prevent further harm.”

Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer resigned in 2019 after the allegations resurfaced.

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