Michigan AG Releases Preliminary Report into Clergy Abuse
Michigan’s attorney general has provided an update on her two-years long investigation into clergy abuse, which focused on the seven Catholic dioceses in her state. The numbers are at once both startling and exactly what we expected.
We are not surprised to find out that the scope of clergy abuse in Michigan is much wider than what has been reported by Catholic officials over the years. While diocesan leaders in Michigan have admitted to 155 abusive priests, Attorney General Dana Nessel and her team uncovered 454 clergymen accused of abuse following reports from 811 victims. This simple fact points to the need for secular investigations into dioceses across the country. Evidence of underreporting, minimization, and cover-up in places like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Colorado has held true in Michigan, and we are convinced will hold true across the entire nation.
More importantly, thanks to the work of A.G. Nessel and her team, eleven abusers have been charged for their crimes. This never would have happened without secular involvement and children would still be at risk from those men today. Again, we believe that there are dangerous abusers living in communities throughout the entire nation and it is up to secular law enforcement officials to investigate their local institutions and protect their communities from hidden predators.
With only 65% of files reviewed, the extent of clergy abuse is proving to be even more serious in Michigan than it was in Pennsylvania. Michigan’s report covers 7 dioceses and more than 1.9 million Catholics, very similar to the 6 dioceses covering 1.8 million Catholics in Pennsylvania. Yet despite the similar size, A.G. Nessel has already identified 150 more abusers than were identified in Pennsylvania, a disturbing trend that leads us to believe a full accounting of abuse in the state will end up revealing 500+ abusers and more than 1000 victims.
We are grateful that A.G. Nessel is keeping her hotline for reporting open. In Pennsylvania, following the release of his report, A.G. Josh Sapiro kept his hotline open and it resulted in hundreds more reports from victims after they saw someone was taking their claims seriously. We expect the same to hold true in Michigan given how closely the numbers between the two states are tracking.
We encourage anyone who has information or suspicions related to clergy abuse in Michigan to call the attorney general’s hotline at (844) 324-3374 and make a confidential report.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(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)