LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Five former priests face 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct charges as part of Attorney General Dana Nessel’s investigation of clergy abuse within the Michigan Catholic Church.
Nessel says it’s time to bring justice to survivors of sexual abuse and although only five former priests have been charged so far, more and more victims are still coming forward.
“This really is just the tip of the iceberg, and our work continues day in and day out as we seek justice for the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of victims of clergy abuse in our state,” said Nessel.
It was an emotional auditorium this morning in downtown Lansing as the attorney general read the names of the former priests charged with sexual assault.
Andy Russell knows the pain of this crime firsthand.
“I just can’t express to you the gratitude and the joy I feel, that 50-years-old and this happened when I was 14, I can stand in front of you and say finally,” said Russell.
The five charged are Timothy Crowley and Vincent DeLorenzo of the Lansing Diocese, Neil Kalina and Patrick Casey of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Jacob Vellian of the Kalamazoo Diocese.
The first four are behind bars and police are currently searching for Vellian in India.
Nessel says it’s time to start holding people accountable.
“Some of those clergy who preyed on young children and on vulnerable adults, unfortunately those clergy were hiding in plain sight,” said Nessel.
Russell has a message for other victims turning survivors.
“This is not murder on your soul. This buries your soul, it kills everything that you’ve known as a Catholic, but your soul is not dead,” said Russell.
Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea responded to the charges today, saying:
“I welcome today’s action so that 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.”
UPDATE: The Catholic Diocese of Lansing sent a statement regarding the indictment of Rev. Vincent DeLorenzo and Timothy Crowley. The statement included additional information about DeLorenzo and Crowley as well as the zero-tolerance policy.
Additionally, Bishop Earl Boyea stated, “I welcome today’s action so that 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.”
UPDATE: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says prosecutors have brought sexual abuse charges against five Catholic priests as part of her office’s investigation into clergy abuse.
Nessel said Friday that the priests served in dioceses in Detroit, Lansing and Kalamazoo, and that they’ve been charged with various counts of criminal sexual conduct. She says four of them have been arrested in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan, and that the fifth awaits extradition from India.
Those charged are:
• Timothy Michael Crowley, 69, Lansing Diocese, was charged in Washtenaw County with four felony counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) 1, a maximum sentence of life in prison and a lifetime of electronic monitoring, and four felony counts of CSC 2 – a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Crowley, who was a priest in various parishes, including St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor, was arrested Thursday in Tempe, Arizona.
• Neil Kalina, 63, Archdiocese of Detroit, was charged in Macomb County with one felony count of CSC 4, a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a lifetime of electronic monitoring. Kalina, who was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township, was arrested Thursday in Littlerock, California.
• Vincent DeLorenzo, 80, Lansing Diocese, was charged in Genesee County with three felony counts of CSC 1, a maximum sentence of life in prison and a lifetime of electronic monitoring, and three felony counts of CSC 2, a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. DeLorenzo, who was a priest at Holy Redeemer Church in Burton, was arrested Thursday in Marion County, Florida.
• Patrick Casey, 55, Archdiocese of Detroit, was charged in Wayne County with one felony count of CSC 3, a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Casey, who was a priest at St. Theodore of Canterbury Parish in Westland, was arrested Thursday in Oak Park, Michigan.
• Jacob Vellian, 84, Kalamazoo Diocese, was charged with two counts of Rape, a maximum sentence of life in prison. Vellian was a priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Benton Harbor, and now lives in Kerala, India.
A sixth priest faces an administrative complaint and has had his counseling license suspended by the state.
Nessel is among more than a dozen attorneys general investigating or reviewing clergy abuse following a shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report last year detailing seven decades of child sex abuse by more than 300 predator priests.
She has asked the state’s seven dioceses to suspend their own internal review processes until her office’s probe is complete.
ORIGINAL STORY: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is set to give an update on her investigation into clergy abuse in Michigan.
Members of the Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigative team have been reviewing hundreds of thousands of pages of documents seized from Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses in October 2018.
In addition, the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Hotline has received more than 400 tips since the beginning of the year.
Nessel has been criticized for targeting Roman Catholics in the investigation.
She has responded to those comments by saying she is intent on pursuing sexual assault claims.
6 News will carry Nessel’s news conference Friday at 11:00 a.m. and you can see that on the 6 News Livestream.