Today, the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Michigan issued its first report regarding its investigation of clergy sexual abuse in the Michigan dioceses. Today’s report, the culmination of a four-year investigation, concerns the Diocese of Marquette.
“The Attorney’s General’s investigation, which all Michigan dioceses have cooperated with, had the express purpose of examining whether the dioceses were reporting sexual abuse as required by law or whether they were covering it up and, thanks be to God, today’s report confirms the cooperation of the dioceses and shows no cover-up by the Diocese of Marquette,” said Lisa Kutas, Chief of Staff of the Diocese of Lansing, October 27.
“Indeed, today’s report shows there has not been a single allegation of abuse of a minor by a priest in active ministry within the Diocese of Marquette since the adoption of the Dallas Charter in 2002 – all in all, these findings are encouraging while, nevertheless, we commit to ongoing vigilance in protecting the Catholic faithful from any sort of abuse.”
In 2002, the Catholic Church in the United States established and enacted the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” It’s often referred to as the “Dallas Charter” as that’s the city where the US bishops ratified its articles.
The Charter mandates a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse in the Church and established procedures to protect young people, including mandatory background checks for clergy, employees and volunteers who work with minors; a requirement to alert law enforcement of all sexual abuse allegations; and procedures to thoroughly investigate claims of abuse and remove clergy from active ministry. The key findings of today’s report by the Attorney General include:
• The Attorney General report lists 44 priests for which there have been allegations of sexual misconduct since the 1940’s to present day. Six of those priests are alleged to have committed sexual misconduct relating to adults (18 years or older).
• Three of the 44 priests on the list have already been convicted of sexual crimes against minors: two other priests are currently facing charges for sexual crimes against minors: while the Attorney General’s report also emphasizes that the inclusion of the names of the remaining 39 priests “does not reflect a determination by the Department that the allegations are credible or otherwise substantiated”.
• Of the 44 priests named, 33 are known or presumed to be dead. For the 11 who are living or presumed to be living, two are retired but still active in ministry.
• Decade of alleged abuse against a minor by a priest in active ministry according to the Attorney General report: 3% from the 1940’s; 16% from the 1950’s; 28% from the 1960’s; 27% from the 1970’s; 14% from the 1980’s; 10% from the 1990’s; 2% date unknown.
• Decade of reporting to diocese of alleged abuse against a minor by a priest in active ministry according to the Attorney General report: 3% from the 1950’s; 4% from the 1960’s; 1% from the 1970’s; 3% from the 1980’s; 13% from the 1990’s; 36% from the 2000’s; 19% from the 2010’s; 3% from the 2020’s; 15% reported directly to the AG’s Office; 3% reported to other dioceses; 1% undated.
• Says the report: “In the vast majority of the cases, the allegations were only brought to diocesan officials after the statute of limitations had run or after the priest had died.”
“While the failure to find any recent conspiracy or cover-up is good news, the sexual abuse of any minor is, of course, a grave betrayal of Jesus Christ and his Gospel, of the priestly office, of the faithful throughout the Church, and most importantly of each victim of sexual abuse,” added Lisa Kutas.
“These victims deserve our sympathy, support, and prayers. The Diocese of Lansing remains committed to combatting sexual abuse and will continue to work with law enforcement to report any allegations it receives as well as meeting the other requirements of the Dallas Charter and other best practices.”
Today’s publication is the first of seven reports due to be produced by the Attorney General reviewing the seven dioceses of Michigan. The report into the Diocese of Lansing is expected sometime next year.
* The Diocese of Lansing has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse of minors. Those with credible allegations are removed from ministry. The diocese is aware of no one currently active in ministry within the diocese who has abused a child. The diocese is committed to cooperating fully with law enforcement so that anyone who harms children can be brought to justice. Reports of sexual abuse of minors brought to the diocese are shared with law enforcement and have been since at least 2002. If anyone has reason to suspect physical, sexual or emotional abuse of any person of any age, please contact Protective Services or the police, as appropriate. If abuse by anyone connected to the Church is suspected, contact the office of the Michigan Attorney General Investigation hotline at 844-324-3374. For healing and support, please also contact the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at (888) 308-6252 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.