Michigan Catholic Diocese has deemed allegations of child sexual abuse against Bishop James Sullivan as credible; SNAP responds

“Following investigation and review, the Diocese of Lansing has found two allegations against the late Bishop James Sullivan to be credible,” the spokesman for the Diocese said today. The accusations stemmed from the mid-1960s when then-Father Sullivan resided at the Church of the Resurrection Parish in Lansing.

This development illustrates how important it is for victims to report sex crimes to secular authorities, regardless of how long ago they occurred. We commend the Michigan Attorney General’s office for opening an investigation into clergy sexual abuse which resulted in an accusation against the Bishop being reported. This information was passed along to the Lansing Diocese and prodded it to launch its own probe. We are confident that the information given to secular authorities played a significant role in the Diocese's internal investigation.

However, we must add that we feel today’s announcement is long overdue. The news comes as no surprise to our Network. SNAP asked in September of 2019 why the Diocese of Lansing had not included Bishop Sullivan on its list of abusers. At the time, the Bishop and 5 others were already named on the database maintained by the independent watchdog group BishopAccountability.org. We also noted in 2019 that Diocesan officials neglected to provide other critical information on their list, such as when they first received allegations of abuse and how those allegations were handled. This data would have provided a much clearer picture of what happened in the past. We hope the Diocese of Lansing will now decide to reveal such information to show accountability and responsibility for the lifelong harm caused to so many victims.

We applaud the brave survivors who spoke out about their abuse at the hands of Bishop Sullivan. Without their courage and the support of the Michigan AG, the Diocese might never have finally admitted that the Bishop hurt children. We encourage any victims who may still be suffering in silence to find the bravery to come forward, make a report to local police and AG Dana Nessel’s hotline (1-844-324-3374), and find support and healing from trusted friends, therapists, or support groups like ours.

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