Leaked Michigan police report points to Alabama Catholic Bishop covering up abuse; SNAP reacts

For immediate release: March 4, 2024

An Alabama blog, Birmingham Diocesan Watch, anonymously received a copy of a 2007 Flint, Michigan, police report earlier this year. The report indicated that Fr. Steven Raica of the Diocese of Lansing was told by an 8-year-old boy that the child had been brutally assaulted by Fr. Vincent Anthony DeLorenzo from May to June of 1978. The victim said that the assaults stopped after he talked with Fr. Raica.  At the time of the victim’s disclosure, Fr. Raica was a deacon in Michigan. He is now Bishop Raica and leads the Diocese of Birmingham.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has questions about what Bishop Raica did or did not do after he learned of Fr. DeLorenzo’s assaults on the victim. Michigan’s Child Protection Law, which was enacted in 1975, required clergy to report abuse to the civil authorities at the time of disclosure. The police did not have a report on the assaults prior to the victim’s 2007 disclosure.

Lansing SNAP Leader Nadja Tirrell wonders, “Why didn’t Bishop Raica tell law enforcement back in 1978 that a little boy accused Fr. DeLorenzo of sexual abuse? How many others could have been saved if he had reported these crimes?”

SNAP is asking the Michigan Attorney General’s office to investigate Bishop Raica’s apparent failure to make the required report. We also hope that anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered criminal behavior by any Catholic clergyman, brother, nun, staffer, or volunteer in Michigan or Alabama will come forward and make a report to law enforcement. We cannot expect to make the Church a safer place for today’s children if the secrets of the past remain hidden.

CONTACT: Nadja Tirrell, SNAP Leader Michigan, [email protected], 517-285-0631, Nancy Crabbs, SNAP Leader Michigan, 616-514-7973, Mike McDonnell, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected] 267-261-0578)  Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386 [email protected])

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant