Over the past eight decades, 17 priests were credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor in the Diocese of Lansing, according to a new report issued on Friday.
The data released by the diocese says this makes up just 2.8 percent of the clergy who have been incardinated in the Michigan diocese since its founding in 1937.
“The publication of today’s list is the result of an internal review of reports of sexual abuse of minors made to the diocese over the past 82 years,” the diocese said in a statement.
The list was compiled by diocesan staff with the assistance of the Diocese of Lansing’s Review Board for the Sexual Abuse of Minors, including past review board chairs.
The report comes four months after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced charges against five Michigan priests, including two from the Diocese of Lansing.
The two priests, Timothy Crowley and Vincent DeLorenzo, were both removed from ministry in 2002.
In a statement accompanying the list of credibly accused priests, the diocese said “the vast majority of credible allegations stem from the years between the 1960s and mid-1990s with the Diocese of Lansing not being aware of any credible allegations of clerical sexual abuse of a minor occurring since the implementation of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children in 2002.”
The list included 13 priests who had been members of the diocese, 3 members of religious orders, and one priest serving in Lansing from outside the diocese. There was a total of 73 allegations against the 17 clerics. The vast majority of allegations happened between the 1960s and 1990s.
“The primary intended audience of this list are victims of abuse: to encourage presently unknown victims to come forward; to help victims expose their abusers; and to assist victims in finding justice, healing and peace,” Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing told Crux.
The Diocese of Lansing also said it has received 82 additional allegations against 52 other clergymen that were deemed to have insufficient evidence available to determine credibility, often because of the age of the report and the fact that the accused priest was already deceased.
Lansing is the latest diocese to publish the names of priests credibly accused of child sex abuse since the publication of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s report into Catholic Church sexual abuse in August 2018.
Since then, over 100 dioceses have published a list of credibly accused priests.
Last summer, Nessel’s predecessor Bill Schuette said the Michigan Attorney General’s office would be conducting its own investigation into child abuse in the Catholic Church. He issued search warrants for the offices of the seven Michigan dioceses the following month.
When she took office at the beginning of the year, Nessel controversially called on dioceses to stop their internal review of files and told victims to ask investigators “to see their badge and not their rosary.”
The Diocese of Lansing states on its website that victims of child sexual abuse by someone representing the Catholic Church should “contact appropriate law enforcement.”
In response to the Lansing report, the Attorney General’s offices issued a statement saying the diocese “has taken an important step today by publicly sharing information about priests who have been credibly accused of abusing minors.”
“We welcome this transparency by the Diocese and will continue to work on our own efforts to pursue justice for the victims of clergy abuse,” the statement said.
The diocese said the figures released on Friday are “based upon the internal records presently available to the Diocese of Lansing and will be updated should new information become available in future and especially if, as is expected, the publication of today’s list encourages other victims to come forward.”
“I know I am not alone in feeling deep shame and sorrow upon learning of the plight of victims in recent years,” Boyea said in a statement. “I have met with many of them; all deserve our compassion, solace and support.”
He also pledged to help victims “find healing and peace.”
Speaking to Crux, the bishop said, “It should be remembered that, ultimately, this present crisis will not be over until that healing and peace is brought to all those who are affected.”
“When it comes to safeguarding against sexual abuse we can never, and will never, rest. One case of abuse is one too many. Our work and ministry continue,” Boyea added.
This report has been updated with the statement of the Michigan Attorney General’s office.
Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome
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