Michigan’s clergy abuse probe identifies 454 accused priests, 811 victims
LANSING, MI – A two-year investigation into sexual abuse in Michigan’s Catholic churches has, so far, identified 454 accused priests and 811 victims, and led to charges against 11 clergymen.
Of the 11 charged, two have been convicted thus far. Their sentences were for 60 and 45 days in jail.
“We are committed to ensuring that every case of sexual abuse and assault is thoroughly reviewed and that whenever we are able to pursue justice for a victim, we do so aggressively and relentlessly,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “We must all commit to breaking down the walls of silence that so often surround sexual assault and abuse. In the end, we hope this investigation provides a voice to those who have suffered in silence for so long and shines a light on those offenders who have escaped punishment for their crimes by hiding in shadows.”
Authorities executed search warrants in October 2018 on all seven of Michigan’s Catholic dioceses. Two-hundred and twenty boxes of paper documents and more than 3.5 million digital documents were seized for review by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office’s Clergy Abuse Investigative Team.
A review of 65% of the paper documents identified 454 accused priests and 811 reported victims; victims and accused clergymen were found in all seven dioceses with the most of both being in Grand Rapids and the least being in Kalamazoo, according to the investigation report released earlier this month. There are another 78 boxes - all related to the Diocese of Saginaw and the Archdiocese of Detroit - to review.
In addition, the state’s clergy abuse tip line (1-844-324-3374) has generated 750 tips that uncovered an additional 435 victims and 316 accused priests leading to 112 police investigations, 180 victim interviews and 285 police reports.
Investigators have also reviewed 2.24 million, or 64%, of the digital documents as of late September, according to the report. The number of victims and suspected priests identified through digital document review cannot yet be determined, the report said. The totals will be available when the investigation is complete. The team is expected to finish the document review in 2021.