Michigan Attorney General: Church Leaders Failed Victims

The Michigan attorney general is accusing Catholic Church leaders of failing to protect victims.

At a packed press conference here in Lansing today, state attorney general Dana Nessel announced the findings so far of her ongoing investigation into clergy sex abuse and cover-up, making clear the Catholic Church cannot be trusted to police itself.

Dana Nessel:

If an investigator comes to your door and asks to speak with you, please ask to see their badge and not their Rosary. And here’s why that matters: because many churches and dioceses appear to be self-policing, and encouraging parishioners to report abuse to them so they can conduct their own internal investigations. … And victims may believe that they cannot or should not report abuse to us because the Church is going to handle it. And simply put, that’s just not true. …

Nessel also said the scope of the investigation is far bigger than most know, involving not only all seven dioceses, where priests were shuffled from one diocese to another, but multiple states as well, since abusive clergy were also moved out of state.

Dana Nessel:

Our team seized and is now continuing to review hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, including procedures for receiving and investigating allegations of abuse by the Church. … Now, as of this date, we’ve received more than 300 tips through our clergy abuse hotline, an online tip forum, and there are tips being investigated right now for potential criminal prosecutions. … Priests have been moved from one diocese to the next, protecting the priests in the parish, and we’re also going to be cooperating with other states — I believe it’s 12 other states — that now have similar ongoing investigations, because we know that there have been priests that have been moved from state to state to state.

Michigan chief of police Col. Joseph Gasper echoed the need for victims not to go to the Church first, but to law enforcement.

Col. Joseph Gasper: “I also want to echo your comments regarding the importance of reporting tips directly to law enforcement. We take all leads seriously, and it’s critically important that we hear directly from you when you have information to provide.”

Nessel confirmed the surprise statewide raids her office conducted on all seven Catholic dioceses in October, involving 70 officers and special agents as well as 15 assistant attorneys general on the scene. It was the first statewide raid of its kind in the history of the country.

Read more at Church Militant