Seven Dioceses in Michigan Served with Search Warrants
Yesterday, investigators and law enforcement empowered by Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette served search warrants at seven dioceses across the state, seizing misconduct records and other files related to potential abuse and cover-up cases.
This kind of action is exactly what we mean when we call for independent investigations. Rather than hoping for a voluntary release of files, Schuette compelled their release and in doing so ensured that he received all records, not just those that officials had deemed OK to be released. Given that the latter has been seen as recently as two weeks in Buffalo, it is understandable why AG Schuette chose to execute his warrants this way.
In the wake of Pennsylvania’s grand jury report, Michigan is one of twelve other states to launch investigations into dioceses in their state. Thus far, the Michigan investigation has also been one of the fastest moving and, as seen in yesterday’s actions, most aggressive in their pursuit of the truth. It’s probably not a coincidence that the two states that have been so steadfast in their investigations – Pennsylvania and Michigan – are also two states that have experienced other major institutional sexual abuse scandals in the past decade. We hope that this is a sign of a cultural shift in the way that our country views and responds to cases of sexual assault and abuse and that people are tired of seeing children and vulnerable adults hurt at places that are supposed to care for them.
People have always known that sexual abuse is a serious issue, but in the past it has been easier to dismiss the problem as something that happens “rarely,” “somewhere else” and “to other people.” But as has been made painfully clear and public thanks to movements like #MeToo and the cases at MSU and other institutions, more and more people are learning that sexual abuse happens “here” to “people we know” and more commonly than we could have thought. For that reason, we applaud the direction that AG Schuette has taken and encourage other states to follow his example.
Michigan’s Attorney General has also created a hotline that those who may have seen, suspected or suffered abuse can call to report what they know. The phone number is 844-324-3374. Reports can also be sent by email.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.