A Saskatchewan Lutheran pastor has resigned following an independent investigation that confirmed he targeted women online through anonymous Twitter accounts.
Retired RCMP officer Erin Folk conducted the digital forensic investigation.
She concluded that pastor Todd Guggenmos belittled, mocked, and devalued others over the course of two years using an anonymous Twitter account he created, according to a news release from the Lutheran Church of Canada.
Folk concluded that Guggenmos targeted specific people for harassment over a two-year period — all while serving as a pastor in rural communities including Langenburg, Landestreu, and MacNutt — and that his language was specifically demeaning to women.
The investigation came after allegations of online harassment were made by blogger Tammy Robert concerning the Twitter account, @NotTammyR.
In a blog post, Robert said the tweets originating from the account were “breathtakingly vile.”
Robert initially identified Guggenmos as the person behind the account, based on “enterprising internet sleuths” who allegedly outed him.
A statement from the Lutheran Church on Thursday denounced Guggenmos’ actions.
“Such misconduct is unbecoming of a spiritual leader as it fails to conform to the holy life which Scripture and LCC requires of its pastors,” it said.
“We express our sincere sorrow and pray for all who have been affected by this unacceptable situation, especially those who were the recipients of unwarranted and disturbing online behaviour.”
When questioned by CTV News about the allegations in September, Guggenmos denied any connection to one tweet in particular — one that allegedly condoned pedophilia.
“I did not ever tweet anything about sexual relations with minors. That tweet is an obvious fake and is libel,” Guggenmos said.
The Lutheran Church of Canada said the investigation could not find any connection between Guggenmos and the tweet “relating to the age of consent for sexual activity.”
-With files from Laura Woodward