Five current or former Catholic priests from Michigan dioceses have been charged with sexual abuse crimes.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel made the announcement Friday. This is part of an ongoing investigation into each of the seven Catholic dioceses in the state for potential abuse, which Nessel said earlier this year could take two years or more.
“This really is just the tip of the iceberg and our work continues day in and day out as we seek justice for the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of victims of clergy abuse in our state,” said Nessel.
Assistant Solicitor General Ann Sherman said they’ve come across documents that, in some cases, show members of the church blaming the children for their own abuse.
“These types of documents have made this investigation grueling and heartbreaking,” she said. “But they underscore how important our work is.”
The men come from the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Lansing Diocese and the Kalamazoo Diocese. They face a combined total of 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct charges of varying degrees. Three face charges with a potential life sentence.
“We have hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from every diocese in the state that we haven’t yet reviewed and that we continue to scour,” said Nessel. “So we anticipate many more charges and arrests as we continue to move forward with this work.”
The Lansing Diocese issued a statement saying the men were previously removed from ministry after complaints of sexual abuse against a minor. The diocese says it has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse.
“I welcome today’s action so that the truth can come out and justice my be served,” said Bishop Earl Boyea of the Lansing Diocese. “Any priest who commits reprehensible acts against children does grave harm to victims. He betrays the priesthood and the entire Church. I pray that Christ brings healing to all involved.”
When asked about the Church’s cooperation in the investigation, Nessel said that it has varied depending on diocese and situation.