On July 31, Marie Strassenburg, a pianist at Hope Community Christian Reformed Church in Riverside, Calif., left her part-time job as a piano instructor at a local music store. The Facebook video (since removed by Facebook) she made just after walking out went viral. Strassenburg was concerned about charges brought against a fellow employee and her employer’s apparent decision to not discuss or publicize the police investigation.

In her short video describing her employer’s reactions, Strassenburg asked viewers to share the clip and expressed hope that it would go viral to spread the word of a police investigation and charges laid on a former coworker for suspected lewd acts on a minor under 14.

After 9.6 million online views, more than a dozen media outlet interviews, hundreds of unwelcome comments, and thousands of testimonies from people who have experienced sexual abuse, Strassenburg said she is “absolutely” glad she posted this video. “It raised awareness [of] a problem that is existing, not only in this situation. . . . It’s an issue that shouldn’t be silenced; it should be talked about, however uncomfortable it is.”

Strassenburg said she reached out to local police before posting her video and asked permission before speaking to media outlets. “I wanted it to go viral . . . [for] anybody that could have known about this situation . . . it was really important to me that they knew this was going on because the police had asked for information.” She said the details she included in her original video clip came from a press release issued by the police. “I’m just somebody who made this a lot more public.”

Strassenburg said she has not been contacted by her former employer since leaving her job and that she is happy the music store has since issued a statement that they are cooperating with police.

Strassenburg’s concerns stemmed from the arrest of a coworker and her employer’s subsequent reactions. The incidents related to the charges laid are not alleged to have taken place at the music store or during lessons, but are alleged to have occurred against a minor who was a student at the music store. Strassenburg had asked her employer to be open with patrons about the arrest.

A week after posting her first video, Strassenburg recorded a second live Facebook video where she made a statement about what has happened. She said it wasn’t easy for her to leave her job but she felt strongly that “parents deserve to know that this went on.” She told online viewers she is currently employed as a church pianist, “Yes, I am a Christian, and I’m proud of it.”

Strassenburg is 21 and had been working at the music store since March 2017.

About the Author

Alissa Vernon is the Banner’s regional news correspondent for classis Niagara.