A former Michigan Catholic priest is arrested for solicitation of minors; SNAP reacts
Aaron Nowicki, a former priest from the Catholic Diocese of Marquette who was removed from ministry in 2019, has been arrested in a sting operation for allegedly attempting to meet children for sex. We are grateful for this arrest, and we hope this will encourage others who may have been harmed by Nowicki or anyone else in the Diocese to come forward and make a report to law enforcement.
According to a statement from the Diocese following the cleric's arrest, "Nowicki resigned and was removed from priestly ministry on Jan. 25, 2019, due to allegations of serious, but not criminal, sexual misconduct with a vulnerable adult." The Diocese also said that those accusations were reported to the Michigan Attorney General’s office. However, to the best of our knowledge, they were never shared with parishioners or the public. Father Nowicki was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 2016, and worked as an associate pastor at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette and St. Mary Mission in Big Bay until his resignation in 2019.
It is incomprehensible to us that Catholic officials in Marquette referred to those 2019 allegations as "serious, but not criminal." An adult who goes to their parish priest for guidance is not looking for an uninvited sexual experience. Moreover, the position of a Catholic clergyman is such that no such encounter can be considered truly consensual. In fact, in a handful of states, such activity is considered a crime. We also note that in December such behavior from a cleric will be considered a crime under Catholic law as well.
We can only now wonder how many others the former Fr. Nowicki may have harmed both during his brief tenure as a priest and also after the Diocese recklessly allowed him to walk away. We know that perpetrators generally have more than one victim. Given the way that the 2019 allegations were treated so cavalierly by Catholic officials, we fear there are other victims who are suffering alone and in silence.
We applaud the work of the Chippewa County Sheriff's Office, the Sault Ste. Marie Police Department, the Sault Tribe Police Department, and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office that led to Nowicki's arrest. We encourage anyone who may have been harmed by Nowicki or any person who has direct information that could help law enforcement to please call the Michigan Attorney General’s office at 1-844-324-3374, email them at [email protected].gov, or fill out the online form.