The state’s Attorney General Dana Nessel , above, yesterday (Friday) revealed that they have been charged with various counts of criminal sexual conduct. Four of them were arrested this week in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan, and that the fifth awaits extradition from India.
A sixth priest faces an administrative complaint and has had his counseling license suspended by the state.
Nearly all of the charges, which involve victims who were as young as five when they were abused, came from roughly 450 calls to a tip line and were corroborated by files seized from dioceses last fall and interviews with multiple victims, Nessel said.
She added that the cases are just the “tip of the iceberg,” as investigators have only gone through at most 10 percent of the information they have obtained. They also found many cases in which they could not bring charges because statutes of limitation had expired, priests had died or victims wouldn’t come forward.
The AG said at a press conference:
We’re holding people accountable – in this case, some of those clergy who preyed on young children and vulnerable adults. Unfortunately, they were hiding in plain sight … and taking advantage of their position of faith and authority.
Nessel, for the record, stands accused of anti-Catholic bigotry by the Catholic League’s head honcho, Bill Donohue, above. In a post earlier this year he labeled her a “disaster”, pointed out that she was Jewish and a lesbian activist who takes a strong stand against homophobia – and that she:
Singled out the Catholic Church for a probe of sexual abuse, never explaining why no other institution was targeted.
Despite the Catholic church’s stated “zero-tolerance” policy towards sexual abuse, Nessel claims church leaders are still discussing transferring abusive priests, as opposed to arresting them.
Those charged were Timothy Crowley, 69, of Tempe, Arizona; Neil Kalina, 63, of Littlerock, California; Vincent DeLorenzo, 80, of Lantana, Florida; Patrick Casey, 55, of Bellaire, Michigan; and Jacob Vellian, 84, of Kerala, India. It wasn’t immediately clear if they have attorneys.
DeLorenzo was charged on Thursday with three counts each of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct. DeLorenzo, who served several Michigan churches, admitted when he resigned from a Flint-area parish in 2002 that he had sexually abused a child. He wasn’t charged at the time, but the Diocese of Lansing recently said a total of eight people had accused him of sexual abuse and that he was being defrocked.
Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea issued a statement welcoming the actions of prosecutors, saying this way:
The truth can come out and justice may be served. Any priest who commits reprehensible acts against children does grave harm to victims. He betrays the priesthood and the entire Church. I pray that Christ brings healing to all involved.
US bishops enacted a “zero tolerance” policy against sexually abusive priests in 2002. However, Nessel said she has read more recent internal communications among church leaders in which they discuss transferring abusive priests as opposed to arresting them. She said the documents she has reviewed also outline discussions about paying victims’ families so they don’t come forward.
I want to make certain that we are taking dangerous predators off the street. That’s my No. 1 goal — not just to hold those accountable.