Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has announced the arrests of five priests in an ongoing probe of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse of children in Michigan.
Five former Catholic priests have been charged with criminal sexual conduct, Attorney General Dana Nessel said at a news conference. But hundreds, or even thousands, of alleged victims could still remain across the state, she said.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “We anticipate many more charges and arrests.”
The charges are based on disturbing evidence of abuse investigators said they found in records seized from Michigan dioceses, authorities said Friday, and just the first in what will be a long investigation of clergy abuse in Michigan.
“Some of those clergy who preyed on young children and vulnerable adults, unfortunately those clergy were hiding in plain site,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said Friday. “[They were] reporting to comfort their parishioners, hearing confessions, taking advantage of positions of faith and authority. Today we begin holding those clergy accountable.”
The suspects charged Thursday were priests in the Lansing Diocese, Archdiocese of Detroit and Kalamazoo Diocese when they preyed on children and vulnerable adults, Nessel said. Investigators identified one victim in each case ranging from 5 to 26 years old.
The criminal suspects face a range of possible prison time, from life to 15-year sentences, depending on their convictions.
The following men were charged:
- Timothy Michael Crowley, 69, Lansing Diocese. Crowley was a priest at various parishes, including St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor. He is charged with four counts of first-degree and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 15th District Court in Washtenaw County. He was arrested Thursday in Tempe, Arizona.
- Neil Kalina, 63, Archdiocese of Detroit. Kalina was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township. He is charged with four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 41 A1 District Court in Macomb County. He was arrested Thursday in Littlerock, California.
- Vincent DeLorenzo, 80, Lansing Diocese. DeLorenzo was a priest at Holy Redeemer Church in Burton. He is charged with three counts of first-degree and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 67th District Court in Genessee County. He was arrested Thursday in Marion County, Florida.
- Patrick Casey, 55, Archdiocese of Detroit. Casey was a priest at St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish in Westland. He is charged with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in 18th District Court in Wayne County. He was arrested Thursday in Oak Park.
- Jacob Vellian, 84, Kalamazoo Diocese. Vellian was a priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Benton Harbor. He is charged with two counts of rape in 5th District Court in Berrien County. He lives in Kerala, India and has not yet been arrested but awaits extradition.
The charges were the latest effort by law enforcement nationwide to hold Catholic officials accountable for sexual abuse in the church. Since Thursday, four of the former priests were arrested in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan. The fifth faces possible extradition from India.
The arrests come after the Attorney General and her staff have completed a review of only 5-10% of the documents they’ve obtained from the church.
Michigan reformed its statute of limitations laws last summer, after the case against Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University sports doctor convicted of widespread sexual abuse. The new laws allow victims who were sexually assaulted as minors to file criminal charges until their 28th birthday, or up to 15 years after the incident, whichever is later. Previously, they had until their 21st birthday, or up to 10 years after the incident. The new laws also gave more time for childhood victims to file civil lawsuits.
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