Michigan AG Releases Preliminary Numbers in Investigation into Clergy Abuse, SNAP Applauds AG Effort

Yet another secular investigation into clergy abuse has uncovered more crimes than have been revealed by church officials. Most damning of all is the fact that at least twenty five priests that were found to be abusive were still working in active ministry in Michigan.

This means that children and the vulnerable were actively at risk and would have remained at risk if it were not for the efforts of Michigan AG Dana Nessel and her team. We are incredibly grateful for their work and know that they have prevented more children from being abused. Thanks to these dedicated law enforcement officials, communities in Michigan are safer and more informed.

Through her investigation, AG Nessel uncovered 40% more cases of abusive priests than had previously been known to the public. According to the AG, she has received more than 640 tips on her hotline which helped her identify 270 priests accused of abuse that involve at least 552 victims. The attorney general also said that she expects to have identified “several thousand” victims by the time her probe is complete. We believe that she is correct and hope that she will keep her hotline open for as long as possible. When victims start to be believed and action is taken against the people who abused them or covered the crimes, those victims will be more empowered to come forward and report their abuse.

In Pennsylvania, thousands of additional victims came forward after the release of the attorney general report there, and we are confident that the same will occur in Michigan. Pennsylvania and Michigan both have very similar numbers of active parishioners, and based on SNAP’s internal analytics we expect to see at least 100 more priests named as the investigation continues and as more victims come forward.

The number of active priests with allegations against them in Michigan is disturbing. What is equally disturbing and disheartening is the fact that the vast majority of the cases identified by AG Nessel cannot be prosecuted due to statute of limitations reasons. We hope that this news will compel Michigan legislators to take steps to reform the civil statute of limitations so that more victims have the opportunity to come forward, name their abusers, and ensure that the person who abused them is publicly identified and will be kept away from children and the vulnerable.

This news demonstrates once again that it is through the secular justice system, not internal church structures, that the public becomes informed about clergy abuse and are able to take steps to prevent cases of abuse in the future. We believe every single state in the United States should follow in AG Nessel’s footsteps and begin an independent investigation of their own. It is clear that church officials cannot be counted on to reveal the full depth of this crisis on their own; fortunately, dedicated public servants like AG Nessel have taken up that mantle. We are incredibly grateful to her.

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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