Another Priest in Michigan Faces Criminal Penalties, SNAP Credits the Attorney General Investigation

Another Catholic priest accused of a sexual crime has been charged publicly, and we think a lot of the credit goes to the work done by Michigan’s attorney general. A.G. Dana Nessel has shown the power and importance of secular investigations and how these investigations can protect the vulnerable from harm.

Fr Lawrence Ventline has a troubled history with abuse and, thanks to the work done by A.G. Nessel and her team, the public are now better informed. The cleric had been suspended by the Archdiocese of Detroit after receiving allegations of abuse against him, yet he was still able to work around vulnerable adults and children as a counselor. A.G. Nessel suspended- his counseling license in May of 2019, after discovering the allegations that Fr. Ventline had abused sexually an 11-year-old boy. Less than four months later, the priest was arrested for indecent exposure in an unrelated case. Now, he has pleaded no contest to the charges and will be sentenced next month.

We believe those charges and the public knowledge about these crimes were only made possible thanks to the work done by A.G. Nessel and her team. We are grateful for their dedication and hope these stories inspire other survivors and whistle-blowers to contact the A.G. hotline (1-844-324-3374) and share what they know about clergy sex crimes.

It is notable that Fr. Ventline purportedly has been sidelined from ministry since 1999. Despite that, he had not been publicly restricted from ministry until 2016. Since 2004, the USCCB has ostensibly had a “zero tolerance" policy in effect. We can only wonder what happened in this case. Internally, SNAP has documented hundreds of violations of the Dallas Charter all over the United States. At least now one of those violations has a criminal record and his access to children, via the suspension of his counseling license, has been curtailed.

This situation is a clear example of the need for secular investigations and interventions. It is thanks to the work done by secular leaders, not Catholic leaders, that the public is better informed and better protected. We hope that other attorneys general across the country are paying attention to the great work done by A.G. Nessel and her team and will work to replicate it in their own states.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org)

(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)


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