Michigan AG releases report on Diocese of Kalamazoo; SNAP responds

For Immediate Release May 22, 2024

We are thrilled to learn that Attorney General Dana Nessel, one of the most aggressive and effective attorneys general in the US in terms of going after institutions that enable and perpetrate abuse against children, has released a report on the Diocese of Kalamazoo. The report contains detailed descriptions of accusations of sexual abuse or assault and other sexual misconduct by priests who are current or former clergy for the Diocese of Kalamazoo. The AG's investigation resulted in criminal charges against two Kalamazoo priests, Fr. Brian Stanley and Fr. Jacob Vellian.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo issued a statement in response to the AG's report. Bishop Edward M. Lohse said in part, “Our policies for protecting children and youth are some of the best that are out there, but that does not erase what happened in the past.”

However, persistent claims from Church officials to focus on child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions as a "thing of the past" are simply disingenuous. This year SNAP has seen, on average, at least 4 news reports per month about the arrest of Catholic clerics or staffers for sexual abuse or misconduct. There is no sure-fire way to identify potential abusers. Moreover, most victims come forward between the ages of 50-70, which means that we may not hear from those children being hurt today for another 40 years. 

We would also like to add that in our opinion, it is important for victims of clergy abuse and witnesses to first report abuse directly to law enforcement, and only then to Church officials. The best outcomes of child sexual abuse accusations in Catholic institutions come from secular investigations of these crimes. Anyone with any information regarding child abuse in Michigan should contact the Attorney General Office: Hotline: 844-324-3374 or email: [email protected].

‘What we realize after secular investigations in many states, including Michigan, is simply this…Church officials knew about child sexual abuse and covered it up. We are not convinced that the institution has yet corrected this pattern of behavior," said Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Director.

Kudos to AG Nessel. Her investigation of Catholic sexual abuse in Michigan has been one of the most effective in the country. We hope her track record will inspire those abused in any state or any similar organization to come forward and make a report to their state's Attorney General.

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

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