Abuse survivor ‘shocked’ by dismissal of priest at same church
GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The news that her former priest was removed from the priesthood for credible allegations of sexually abusing a minor brought back horrible memories for a worshipper at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Catholic Parish in Grand Haven.
She was molested at the same church decades ago by a different priest.
Father William Langlois, now 75, was recently ousted from the priesthood for what the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids called credible allegations of molesting a child — news that shocked parishioners at the church where he was pastor for years.
“I right then got in a state of depression, bringing back all these memories from when I was abused,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified.
She was 14 or 15 in 1960, she said, when Father John Sullivan repeatedly molested her at St. Patrick’s. Sullivan, now deceased, had a long history of sexual offenses as a priest before coming to West Michigan — offenses that local church officials were aware of. At churches in the Grand Rapids diocese, including St. Patrick’s, Sullivan molested as many as nine young girls starting in the late 1950s.
But the survivor of Sullivan said she never suspected Langlois.
“Everybody was shocked, couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Langlois had joined the priesthood nearly 50 years ago. He took a leave of absence in 2014 after admitting he had an inappropriate relationship with a woman.
“He confessed to everybody at church, actually,” the woman said.
He retired two years later.
Pope Francis recently dismissed Langlois from the priesthood after a survivor reported in 2018 that the priest had sexually abused her from 1999 to 2006, beginning when she was a minor and continuing into adulthood.
“He was just so good and outgoing to everybody, and friendly, greeted everybody after church and if he saw you anywhere in town or in the store, he’d made a point to greet you,” the parishioner said of Langlois.
Langlois is now among 15 priests with credible allegations of sexually abusing children in the Grand Rapids diocese.
The survivor of Sullivan is in her late 70s now and still goes to St. Patrick’s, where nobody knows what happened.
“I figured it wasn’t God’s fault and I still kept going to church and donating, ever since then,” she said.
She said that won’t change despite the removal of Langlois.
“I won’t give up on God,” she said.
Target 8 couldn’t reach Langlois for comment Monday.
The state Attorney General’s Office said it started investigating him in 2018 but did not file criminal charges. A spokeswoman refused to say why.