NEW YORK – A Diocese of Lansing priest barred from active ministry more than 20 years ago following a complaint that he sexually abused a minor has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge related to the complaint, and is expected to serve one year in jail.
Father Vincent DeLorenzo, 84, pleaded guilty on April 25 to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The charge stems from the sexual assault of a five-year-old boy in 1987, following a service he officiated for the boy’s deceased family member. His sentencing is scheduled for June 13.
The Diocese of Lansing first received the complaint against DeLorenzo in 2002. At the time, Bishop Carl Mengeling of Lansing removed him from active ministry. The diocese also invited any further victims of DeLorenzo to come forward with complaints.
Since then, seven additional complaints have been made against DeLorenzo related to the sexual assault of a child between 1995-2000. The diocese forwarded all allegations to law enforcement.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel first charged DeLorenzo in 2019 with three felony counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, and three felony counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct.
In exchange for DeLorenzo’s guilty plea to the first complaint from 2002, the remaining charges were dismissed. According to the Michigan Attorney General’s office, as a result of the plea DeLorenzo is expected to be sentenced to five years’ probation, the first of which will be served in prison.
After the court proceedings, David Kerr, spokesman for the Diocese of Lansing, applauded the bravery of all of the victims who came forward with their testimony.
“It was the bravery of those victims who came forward with testimony against DeLorenzo that helped to secure today’s conviction – for that, those individuals have our gratitude, our support and, of course, our prayers that they find both healing and peace,” Kerr said in a statement.
“DeLorenzo’s actions were as gravely immoral as they were illegal, he besmirched the good name of the Catholic priesthood, he betrayed the trust put in him by the Catholic community of the Diocese of Lansing and, most disturbingly, he damaged the lives in his young victims,” he continued.
Even though the 10-year statute of limitations had passed, Nessel was able to bring the charges against DeLorenzo because the state’s statute of limitations is tolled, or paused, when a defendant leaves the state for any reason within the statute of limitations and resumes if and when the defendant returns to the state.
DeLorenzo was in Marion County, Florida, at the time of his arrest in 2019, when the charges were brought against him. According to the Attorney General’s office.
As part of the plea deal DeLorenzo must also register as a sex offender and enter sex offender counseling, pay restitution to the victims, and all of the victims will also have an opportunity to provide an impact statement at the time of the defendant’s sentencing hearing.
Nessel said the guilty plea is hopefully an important moment for the victims.
“Our team continues to work day and night to bring an end to an era of abuse that has hidden in plain sight for far too long and provide justice to those who have suffered years of unimaginable trauma,” Nessel said in a statement. “This guilty plea will hopefully close this painful chapter and open the opportunity for much-needed healing for those victimized by Delorenzo.”
The April 25 statement from the Diocese of Lansing notes that the Diocese has sought laicization of DeLorenzo from the ministerial priesthood. However, the process has been on hold pending the outcome of the court proceedings that are now resolved.
“Today’s conviction will allow the Church to pursue laicization,” the statement said.
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