MI - Just-ousted priest was accused before
He allegedly sexually harassed someone 15 years ago
Victims’ group says archbishop breaks pledge of “openness”
And group wants archbishop to “come clean” about other predator priests
In sharply worded letter, SNAP blasts “recklessness, callousness and deceit”
For immediate release: Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is releasing a private archdiocesan memo showing that a Detroit priest who was ousted last week because of credible child sex abuse allegations was also accused of sexual harassment 15 years ago.
In a one page memo, dated September of 1997, a high ranking Detroit archdiocesan official writes to two colleagues that “we have lost the mediation process” arising from accusations that Fr. Louis Grandpre sexually harassed an individual. The memo indicates the mediator “recommended (a) settlement of about $160,000.00”
The memo is written to then-Bishop Kevin Britt and Msgr. John Zenz by then-auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. Harrington and carries this subject line: “Sexual Harassment Case/Fr. Lou Grandpre/St. Paul of Tarsus.”
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, want Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron to “explain why this secret was kept from parishioners and the public” and “discipline the staffers who are responsible for this deceit.”
“Vigneron’s public relations team gave a list of Fr. Grandpre’s assignments and other details last week,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “So why did the church hierarchy keep silent about another accusation against Fr. Grandpre? And what other wrongdoing – by Fr. Grandpre and other priests – are Vigneron and his staff they keeping secret?”
SNAP is not disclosing how it obtained the memo but Clohessy is “extremely confident” it’s authentic.
“In clergy sex cases, bishops pledge ‘openness’ but practice secrecy,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “As a result, they deliberately mislead parishioners and the public into thinking a cleric has only been accused once when in fact that’s rarely the case.”
Clohessy urged the archbishop to make Fr. Grandpre’s personnel records public and punish those responsible for what he called “the deceitful news release and website posting” about Fr. Grandpre.
“The official - and supposedly binding - US bishops’ abuse policy mandates transparency,” Clohessy said. “But when bishops break that promise, no one is ever disciplined. So others in the church continue to act deceptively.”
Clohessy cited a similar case disclosed just yesterday in Minnesota.
“If Vigneron wants people to believe he’s serious about stopping church abuse cover ups, he’s got to take action against those who wrote and approved these announcements that hid serious allegations against Fr. Grandpre 15 years ago,” said Dorris.
Church records show that from 1990-2008, Msgr. Zenz was the archdiocesan vicar general, a high-ranking post. He now pastors Holy Name parish in Birmingham MI (248-646-2244, [email protected]).
Bishop Harrington went on to head the Diocese of Winona and is now retired. Bishop Britt was named Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit in 1993, and promoted to Bishop of Grand Rapids in 2002. He died in 2004.
When he was suspended, Fr. Granpre was the retired pastor of St. Paul of Tarsus Parish in Clinton Township and also worked at Epiphany Parish in Detroit, St. Alphonsus Parish in Dearborn, St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Algonac in 1966, and at St. Ives Parish in Southfield and was part of the faculty at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.
Fr. Grandpre was ordained in 1961 was named pastor at St. Paul of Tarsus in 1990 and retired in 2003.
A copy of the 1997 memo is here: http://www.snapnetwork.org/to_bishop_kevin_britt_and_msgr_john_zenz